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Flights of Fancy: The Multibillion-Dollar World of Fantasy Sports
September 30, 2015
Americans are expected to spend $4.6 billion on fantasy sports this year, while vying for a payout of around $107 -- the average prize for winning the biggest fantasy league games, according to American Express. Driving that spending and risk taking are a passion for sports, the promise of purses, the push of new platforms, and the pull of camaraderie.
Amazon Flexes Its Muscles in Crowdsourced Delivery Space
September 30, 2015
Amazon has entered the on-demand delivery space in its hometown of Seattle, where independent workers are delivering orders within two hours or less. Under its new Amazon Flex program, the company pays workers between $18 and $25 per hour to deliver packages to Prime Now customers, said company spokesperson Kelly Cheeseman. The service is available only in Seattle for now.
Vertical Ventures
September 29, 2015
I'm always looking for emerging trends at Dreamforce, the kinds of things that are hiding in plain sight. They might never amount to much, but given that it's Dreamforce, many likely will bloom. A case in point is the emergence of vertical market CRM. Its time is now because application development tools have become so good, and because customers need fast, budget-friendly deployments.
Volkswagen's Fines - Billions; Lost Customer Loyalty - Incalculable
September 25, 2015
There's a rough road ahead for consumers strapped into Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars kitted out with software to fool emissions testing. Many of VW's loyal customers feel let down and even duped, said Agnes Huff, CEO of the Agnes Huff Communications Group. Many of them now question the brand's overall integrity. "Regaining customer trust will be an ongoing challenge."
Gmail Blocking Tools Narrow Email Marketing Channel
September 24, 2015
Google on Tuesday announced new block and unsubscribe features for Gmail that will make it easier for users to manage their in-boxes and harder for marketers to creep out of the spam folder. "Sometimes you get mail from someone who's really disruptive," said Sri Harsha Somanchi, product manager at Google. When that happens, "you should be able to say, 'Never see messages from this person again."
Groupon Rethinks Its Road Map
September 23, 2015
Groupon on Tuesday announced plans to cut 1,100 jobs and close operations in seven countries and said it has filed a statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission to that effect. The biggest cuts will hit its customer service and international deals centers, as the company regroups to leverage new efficiencies. The restructuring will be complete in about a year.
Amazon Fans Fire's Flames
September 21, 2015
Amazon last week confirmed and detailed the bare-bones Fire tablet, which will sell for just $49 -- and it announced five other Fire family additions while it was at it. Flanking the Fire tablet are the refreshed Fire HD, the Fire TV with 4K, the Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote and the updated Fire Kids Edition. Amazon announced two flavors of the revisited Fire HD.
Court Bolsters FTC's Authority to Regulate Cybersecurity
September 16, 2015
Companies that experience data security breaches have a lot to worry about -- but their problems encompass much more than responding to irate consumers. The business community also has to worry about the U.S. government, which can penalize e-commerce companies for failing to provide adequate protection for consumers' personal data. A recent federal court ruling could give the FTC more muscle.
Salesforce IoT Cloud Makes Thunderous Debut
September 15, 2015
Salesforce has launched IoT Cloud, an Internet of Things offering designed to connect billions of events with Salesforce, which the company says will help its clients' bottom line. IoT Cloud is powered by Salesforce Thunder, the company's new massively scalable, real-time event processing engine. "Salesforce is turning the Internet of Things into the Internet of Customers," said CEO Marc Benioff.
Google, Twitter Forge Open Source Publishing Partnership
September 15, 2015
Google and Twitter reportedly are collaborating on an open source project that focuses on helping publishers bring instant articles to mobile phone subscribers. Facebook launched its Instant Articles feature earlier this year. Apple and Snapchat reportedly have similar tools in development. The Google and Twitter team-up "is a very important development," said Zebra Social CEO Jordani Sarreal.
When Data Breaks the News
September 15, 2015
Google is putting a new spin on the news. Instead of relying on journalists to gather facts and report events the old-fashioned way, the company's News Lab, launched earlier this year, aims to deliver news stories through data. Case in point: Who needs polls to reveal that Donald Trump is the most popular candidate in the Republican primary free-for-all?
The IoT's Data Prioritization Pearl
September 14, 2015
The era of digital transformation and the digital business, the customer experience as a key differentiator, and the movement toward smart machines are some of the common themes Gartner Distinguished Analyst Don Scheibenreif touched on in his keynote last week at the Gartner Customer 360 Summit in San Diego. These are all phenomena that have been on their way for a little while -- like a glacier.
Fear of Ad Blocking Could Lead to More Effective Advertising
September 10, 2015
Adblock Browser for Android re-emerged at the Google Play store on Wednesday, after more than two years of banishment. It is also available at the iTunes App Store. "The reason we were readmitted to the Play store is that this app is different than the one that was kicked out. This one is a browser. The previous one provided some blocking for in-app ads," said Eyeo's Ben Williams.
The Tyranny of Spreadsheets
September 10, 2015
As a former sales and marketing guy, I am more than familiar with spreadsheets as a not-so-good tool for managing the avalanche of data generated by the front office, even before the big data craze. Name a department or function in business and it's easy to find people using spreadsheets to manage it -- often poorly, but through no fault of their own.
An Insider Betrayed Ashley Madison - Go Figure
September 4, 2015
When the giant data breach at infidelity website Ashley Madison made headlines last month, the CEO of the site's owner was quick to claim the caper was an inside job. He had the attacker's profile and work credentials, Avid Life Media's CEO Noel Biderman told ace cybersecurity blogger Brian Krebs. Though not an employee, the individual had accessed the company's technical services.
SaaS' Next Wave: Customer Lifetime Value Management
September 4, 2015
Salesforce's latest quarter, along with the buzz surrounding its upcoming Dreamforce lovefest, have showcased CRM's rapid migration to the cloud. However, today's SaaS CRM solutions deliver limited value-add if the organizations that use them are unable to realize marketing and sales promises. This is especially true for those guiding prospective customers on an omnichannel journey.
Google's Rebuttal Against EU May Be in Vain
September 3, 2015
Google has responded to the EC's statement of objections regarding its search practices by rejecting outright the Europeans' argument that its innovations were anticompetitive. The SO, published in April, doesn't support the claim that the company's displays of paid ads diverted traffic away from shopping services, Google said. Nor does it counter major advantages to consumers and advertisers.
Playing Whac-a-Mole With Windows 10
September 3, 2015
Autumn is coming, and it's time for county fair fun with candy apples, fried dough and the midway. You remember the game whac-a-mole? As the moles popped up through holes on the table, it was your job to whack them before they disappeared. Now, every time another Windows 10 reminder pops up on my screen, all I want to do is grab a mallet and start whacking!
Sprint Goes Fishing for DirecTV Subscribers
September 1, 2015
Sprint last week announced it was celebrating the AT&T/DirecTV merger by extending a truly valuable offer to DirecTV customers. "The Sprint network is winning awards across the country for reliability and speed, and our customers have never been more satisfied," crowed Sprint spokesperson Kristin Wallace. "We are simply giving DirecTV customers a compelling reason to experience Sprint."
How the Windows Phone Could Rise Up and Dominate
August 31, 2015
Last week marked the 20th anniversary of the launch of Windows 95. What people often forget about Windows 95 is that it not only kicked Apple's butt, but also kicked IBM's -- and it wasn't even a complete product. The thing was an operating system. It's especially hard to imagine now that these things typically are downloaded from the Web, and there's no need to stand in line.
Amazon Firing Spree Follows Fire Phone Flop
August 27, 2015
Amazon reportedly has given the boot to dozens of engineers who worked on its ill-fated Fire Phone. The purged staffers worked at Lab126, Amazon's secretive Silicon Valley-based hardware development center. Amazon also scaled back or killed off several other Lab126 projects, including a large-screen tablet, and it reorganized the center to combine two hardware units into one.
Malvertising Headache Swells to Migraine Proportions
August 26, 2015
Online advertising that pushes malicious software to consumers has increased 325 percent over the past year, Cyphort Labs reported Tuesday. Malvertising is adding to what is already a significant problem for online advertisers. Ad fraud will cost global advertisers more than $6 billion this year, according to the Association of National Advertisers.
iPhone Users Can Test-Drive Samsung Galaxy for One Thin Dollar
August 21, 2015
Samsung on Friday kicked off the Samsung Ultimate Test Drive, a new promotion aimed at drawing iPhone users into its fold. For just one dollar Samsung will provide iPhone users with a Galaxy smartphone -- models available include the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge, as well as the S6 edge+ and Note 5 -- plus a month of cellular service. The promotion is open only to iPhone users.
Back to School
August 20, 2015
It felt like back to school this week at the CRM Evolution show in hot and muggy New York. The first week or two of the school year is always like that. Though it still feels like summer vacation, you know you have to get focused, because the first exam will be here before you know it. Cramming begins almost immediately, because there seem to be a lot of new ideas percolating.

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Do you want to live in an Internet-connected home?
Yes -- I have some smart things, and I want more.
Yes -- I'm looking forward to all the conveniences.
Not sure -- I have security and privacy concerns.
No -- the technology isn't good enough yet.
No -- it's a ridiculous waste of money.
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