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Microsoft Trolls Small Biz With Outlook CRM Tool
November 18, 2016
Microsoft this week introduced Outlook Customer Manager, a new cloud-based tool that aims to help its small businesses clients stay on top of their customer relationships. The new service organizes everything from emails to meeting invitations, call logs, notes, tasks, files and other essential items. It comes just four months after the launch the company's Bookings tool.
AI and Customer Loyalty
October 19, 2016
AI and machine learning have taken the industry by storm. Some say they will usher in a new age of better business processes and customer orientation, while others fret that automation will kill jobs. There definitely will be jobs that no longer make sense for humans to do, thanks to automation. However, there are some neglected business processes where AI and ML could make real contributions.
Microsoft Adds Muscle to Dynamics 365
October 18, 2016
Microsoft last week shared new information about its upcoming Dynamics 365 cloud service: the addition of 100 new apps; the inclusion of Solution Integrator partners in Appsource; the division of apps and features into Enterprise and Business Editions, the latter for SMBs; and a new subscription model. Many of the new capabilities will be available in both editions on Nov. 1.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud Hits the Streets
October 5, 2016
Salesforce last week unveiled the Salesforce Commerce Cloud, billing it as the fastest path to unified commerce. It's built on technology from Demandware; Salesforce completed its acquisition of the company this summer. Commerce Cloud enables brands to provide personalized experiences for shoppers across the Web, mobile devices, social networks and in stores.
Oracle OpenWorld
September 29, 2016
Larry Ellison was having too much fun. In his second keynote of this year's Oracle OpenWorld user conference, he was talking about his company's database, Oracle 12c, and comparing it highly favorably to Amazon's competing databases. It seems Ellison always has fun, which is one likely reason that the 72 year-old CTO and executive chairman of the board, looks 52, sounds 42, and probably feels 32.
Microsoft Dynamics Edges Out Salesforce, Oracle for HP Win
September 15, 2016
Just two months after announcing the integration of its CRM and ERP platform under the Microsoft Dynamics 365 umbrella, Microsoft this week announced a six-year agreement to deploy the service to HP Inc.'s ranks. Under the agreement, HP will deploy the Microsoft Dynamics platform -- including Azure, Office 365 and other solutions -- to tens of thousands of its employees.
Sales Tech's Forgotten Byproduct: Employee Happiness
September 13, 2016
Why do companies invest in CRM, sales performance management software, business intelligence, and every other component of the customer-facing technology stack? The obvious response is ROI. CRM paid back $8.71 for every dollar invested in it, Nucleus Research reported way back in 2014. Business analytics applications were delivering $13.01 in value for every buck spent on them.
Dreaming Up Einstein
September 10, 2016
Salesforce isn't waiting for Dreamforce to begin the drumbeat over its AI offering called "Einstein." There is so much to discuss about this turn of events that it's hard to begin, so rather than starting at a conventional jumping-off point I'll start with the name. You couldn't have lived at any point in the 20th century and not have some idea of who Albert Einstein was.
Harlequin Romances Customers
September 6, 2016
I recently read a user story about how Harlequin -- a publisher of romance novels -- keeps its customers loyal. It has embraced several ideas that work really well, including emphasizing a consciousness of customer loyalty, keeping things simple, and focusing on personalizing relationships and engagement. Consciousness is relatively easy, but someone high on the org chart has to promote it.
Einstein to Make Dreamforce Appearance
August 25, 2016
Salesforce plans to unveil Einstein, an artificial intelligence product, at next month's Dreamforce 16. Einstein integration will give Salesforce's sales, service, marketing, collaboration and e-commerce products predictive suggestion and insights capabilities. It will serve as a new nerve system across the entire business. AI is key to Salesforce's future, CEO Marc Benioff has emphasized.
Salesforce Gets a Grip on Quip
August 2, 2016
Salesforce has agreed to acquire Quip, Quip CEO Bret Taylor and Head of Product Kevin Gibbs announced Monday. Quip lets users manage live documents throughout the collaboration process. The deal is worth about $582 million, according to a Salesforce filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Quip provides a chat feature that's built into every document and spreadsheet.
Oracle Hauls In NetSuite
July 28, 2016
Oracle has inked an agreement to acquire NetSuite -- the company its former chief marketing officer, Zach Nelson, cofounded in 1998 -- for $9.3 billion. NetSuite offers various software packages as cloud-based services, including ERP, accounting, CRM and sales force automation. What's surprising about the deal is "why it took so long and why Oracle paid so much," said analyst Trip Chowdhry.
LinkedIn Spiffs Up Sales Navigator
July 22, 2016
LinkedIn this week announced three updates to Sales Navigator. One is deeper integration with Salesforce CRM data, allowing leads and accounts to be imported into Sales Navigator automatically. More than 20 LinkedIn customers already are using this feature. The second is direct integration of Sales Navigator with Gmail. The third is a new recommendation tab on the Sales Navigator mobile apps.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Brings CRM and ERP Together
July 7, 2016
In a bid to augment its cloud services business with more flexibility on pricing and customization, Microsoft has announced the launch of Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft AppSource, which will integrate its ERP and CRM solutions. The combined cloud offerings, which will become available this fall, will allow customers to choose purpose-built apps for a range of business management processes.
Microsoft Dynamics Rides the IoT Wave
May 25, 2016
Microsoft on Monday made its Dynamics CRM Spring 2016 Wave generally available to customers. The application focuses heavily on machine learning and the Internet of Things. It offers field service and project service automation capabilities, as well as four preconfigured Web portal solutions for customers. The portal solutions can be used on any desktop, tablet or mobile device, Microsoft said.
Deeper Connections
May 23, 2016
Salesforce held its Connections 2016 user event in Atlanta earlier this month. About 7,000 people attended, but in the Georgia World Congress Center and airplane hangar, attendance seemed smallish. Attendance might have been held down by Gov. Nathan Deal's slow response to vetoing a religious freedom law largely seen as discriminating against the LGBT community.
Marketing and Loyalty
May 17, 2016
The CRM industry is shining a bright light on digital marketing, and it is a sign of how early we are in the digital marketing boom that few vendors are championing the idea of using marketing in any way other than for driving sales. Based on recent events by Oracle and Salesforce, it appears that the focus on driving more sales makes perfect sense for organizations just getting their feet wet.
Sugar 7.7 Aims for a Sweeter User Experience
May 12, 2016
SugarCRM on Tuesday unveiled Sugar 7.7, the latest version of its CRM package, with several enhancements. A custom tag feature lets any record in the application be tagged for better classification and sharing. A new search UI automatically expands upon selection. The Sugar 7.7 Knowledge Base has been enhanced with an intelligence panel that displays context-sensitive information.
Salesforce Brings Lightning to Government Cloud
April 29, 2016
Salesforce on Thursday launched Government Cloud Lightning for government agencies, contractors and federally funded R&D centers. It provides a modern, component-based platform and an intuitive user experience, as well as access to Salesforce's partner ecosystem. It lets users build apps for desktops and mobile devices with Lightning App Builder's drag-and-drop visual interface.
Fusion Launches Enterprise Cloud Contact Center Solution
April 21, 2016
Fusion this week launched Contact360, an enterprise cloud contact center solution developed in collaboration with Technology for Business, the partner it acquired earlier this month. "Fusion will be offering a clear migration path to the cloud for TFB's Fortune 500 enterprise and government customers, and will sell into our own base of 13,000 business customers," said EVP Jan Sarro.
Chatbots Drive Shopify's Kit CRM Deal
April 15, 2016
Shopify on Wednesday announced that it has agreed to purchase Kit CRM, whose Kit chatbot automatically sends out marketing text messages for online stores. It also lets businesses run targeted ads on Facebook and Instagram, make recommendations based on store activities, post on social media and use functionality provided by other social media apps, Shopify CMO Craig Miller said.
CPQ's Challenge
March 31, 2016
Virtually every CPQ -- configuration, price and quote -- software vendor on the planet has a credible solution for the processes from which the category gets its name. That's the good news. Unfortunately, the world has moved on. Most CPQ is effective for helping promote transactions, especially the sales transaction, in which a buyer or buying entity makes a one-time purchase of a bill of goods.
Commoditizing Software
March 24, 2016
For more than 50 years, the IT industry has followed a well-known script associated with emerging and evolving paradigms: First a product or category is introduced, then it gains wide acceptance (or dies on the vine), followed by a long period when vendors and customers seek out more efficient ways to produce the thing. Ultimately, the category becomes so important that all must have it.
GoDaddy Offers Small Businesses a Place in the Cloud
March 23, 2016
GoDaddy on Monday launched a pay-as-you-go cloud platform along with applications powered by Bitnami. The tools, Cloud Servers and Cloud Applications, are designed to help small businesses -- individual devs, tech entrepreneurs and IT professionals -- quickly build, test and scale cloud solutions. Provisioning takes 54 seconds or less, GoDaddy said.
LiveOps Launches Contact Center as a Service Platform
March 10, 2016
LiveOps Cloud on Tuesday unveiled its enterprise-level CxEngage Contact Center as a Service, or CCaaS, platform. The omnichannel open framework, which was built from the ground up, integrates with standard APIs. It essentially links applications such as CRM, workforce management and business intelligence to help agents make better customer service decisions, according to the company.
The Salesforce Health Cloud
March 2, 2016
Salesforce is opening a can of snakes with its new Health Cloud, which became generally available this week. Having worked in the healthcare software industry for many years in the last century, I have mixed feelings about the announcement. While I'm relieved that an innovative company is taking on healthcare software at last, part of me thinks it could be a long and expensive slog.
The Right Sales Technology Buys Time to Turn B Players Into A Players
February 24, 2016
In sales, A-B-C does not simply refer to the Alec Baldwin scene in "Glengarry Glen Ross." It's the system that sales managers (and salespeople themselves) use to categorize performance. A players smash their quotas on a regular basis; B players battle to deliver results, and usually do; C players have a history of missed objectives and should consider work in another field.
Twitter Puts Some Eggs in Customer Service Basket
February 22, 2016
Twitter last week announced two tools designed to help businesses improve their customer service capabilities. One product would allow users to move from sending companies tweets to using Direct Messages, according to product manager Ian Cairns. Companies will be able to embed on their sites a Direct Messages link that would allow customers to send information directly.
Pegasystems Takes Customer Service Far Afield
February 12, 2016
Pegasystems has launched Pega Field Service, an application designed expressly to streamline and automate critical components of field service operations. The software's key components are a customer service dashboard and a mobile application that enables organizations to centralize distributed field service work. Pega Field Service keeps track of all aspects of the field service process.
Birth of the Modern
February 5, 2016
Nearly every generation sees the birth of what, for it, will define modern life going forward. As uncertain as the twenty-teens have been, in retrospect economists may point to this decade as being as important as the tipping points of the 1870s and 1920s. If so, there may be no better event to symbolize the beginning of the era than the Salesforce fiscal-year kick-off this week.
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