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Spanning Front and Back Offices
August 2, 2017
CPQ -- that is, configure, price, quote -- is one of the most transitional apps, because it spans front and back offices, and because its very existence has changed these functions. Another app in this category is sales compensation management. Both of their stories are about front-office processes needing back-office data. Once the data is made available, the process evolves to be far more useful.
Why Facebook's Willow Beats Apple's Saucer
July 31, 2017
Facebook knocked it out of the park with its financials last week, and a lot of its success comes from Zuckerberg's unique focus. Unlike other firms that jump from project to project, ranging widely from what makes them money -- like Google -- Facebook stays close to what made it successful. There is no stronger evidence than when you compare the two office projects from Apple and Facebook.
The Elusive Total Linux Convergence Dream
July 28, 2017
Regular readers know that I usually stick to the well-charted territory of essential terminal commands and practical overviews of Linux history, since they are immediately useful to newcomers. Thankfully for beginners, the basics don't change very quickly -- but that's not to say that Linux is a stagnant ecosystem. Far from it. Linux can be found at the very frontier of emerging computer trends.
Sage Buys Intacct
July 26, 2017
Sage's Tuesday announcement of its agreement to buy Intacct prompts a multilayered look at the evolution of the cloud ERP space. Both companies are partners with Salesforce and have products based on the Salesforce platform. Each is a member of the AppExchange, and both are situated in the broad cloud ERP space, which has been receiving a lot of attention lately as the market seems to be moving en masse, albeit glacially, to the cloud.
Elon Musk: Luddite?
July 24, 2017
It's hard to believe that the founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX could have such reactionary views about AI. Elon Musk last weekend had some very un-Musk-like things to say about AI when he addressed the U.S. National Governors Association meeting in Providence, Rhode Island. "AI is a fundamental existential risk for human civilization, and I don't think people fully appreciate that," Musk said.
The 5 Technologies We Need to Change the World
July 24, 2017
I just finished reading an interesting hard science fiction book called The Punch Escrow. The story takes place several decades in the future, and it revolves around the idea of quantum foam and teleportation. It points out why teleportation never may be practical, but it brings up the idea of human 3D printing, which could be used more effectively for space exploration.
A New Service Model
July 19, 2017
People concerned about automation killing jobs might look at Helpshift's strategy and similar automation approaches. By enabling businesses to build help or support into mobile apps, these new models are re-inventing support to get the job done. Sure, they provide automated support in lieu of conventional agents, but they do so at a level where it often can be uneconomic to position live agents.
HP Is Back: Should It Rename Itself Compaq?
July 17, 2017
HP just took over the PC market lead worldwide. You probably don't get how incredible this is, so here's an analogy: It's as if a crooked referee put a bunch of lead on a racer who already was overweight and shuffled him to the back of the pack, but in the end, the guy finished first. You'd seriously want to look under his T-Shirt to see if you'd find Superman's costume.
Gadget Ogling: Show and Tell, Fidget Folly, and Connected Nightlights
July 12, 2017
The Echo Show is the first in Amazon's line of smart speakers to incorporate a screen, and it seems very much more "speaker with a display" than "tablet with better audio and microphones." It has all the functionality of Echo, including access to Alexa, Amazon's voice-operated assistant. The screen can, for example, provide a more detailed weather outlook than what Alexa spouts out.
Trailhead Matrix
July 11, 2017
Salesforce had a strong showing at its TrailheaDX developer conference, roughly quadrupling last year's attendance and flooding its developers with new technology. Over the last few years, the company has built out a multidimensional matrix of product offerings that include CRM components like SFA and customer service, but it has been careful to introduce back-end technology products as well.
Could Tech Nerf North Korea?
July 10, 2017
When a hostile country regularly lobs missiles into the ocean with the stated objective of transforming a U.S. state into a radioactive cloud, we have a problem. One "oops" and we could suddenly become a 49-state nation again. Approaches to North Korea tend to be in-the-box thinking, but there are new technologies that effectively could neutralize the threat it poses.
Is SaaS Slipping Into the Legacy App Abyss?
July 7, 2017
Everywhere you look, organizations are shifting their software acquisition preferences and policies away from traditional, on-premises legacy applications to a new generation of on-demand SaaS solutions. Although I was an early advocate, I'm becoming concerned that many leading SaaS vendors and their enterprise customers are taking actions that significantly compromise SaaS' fundamental value.
The Stupidly Dangerous Politics of Blame
July 3, 2017
I hope that, like me, you are off this long holiday weekend and have a chance to think about the drama that now surrounds the U.S. administration. What I find fascinating isn't that the government is a bit of a mess but that the accidental transparency of this administration is focusing us more on the visibility of the problems rather than on the problems themselves.
Naming the Ephemeral
June 30, 2017
So much is happening as we approach the end of Q2 -- our industry's busiest quarter, at least by some measures. I'm flying around seeing things but not always able to comment from a middle seat on a red-eye. So this piece is an attempt to catch up and set some markers for the traditionally slower summer. I've been searching for a word to describe a new category I see: Service as a Service.
Can Amazon Reinvent the Shopping Experience?
June 27, 2017
There is little doubt that the Internet has altered the way U.S. consumers think about shopping. E-commerce sales grew 15.6 percent in 2016 and now account for 11.7 percent of all retail sales, according to recent reports. Amazon accounts for a whopping 43 percent of those e-commerce sales. Amazon, in particular, has changed the way consumers think about e-commerce sales, or etail.
Where FinancialForce Fits
June 26, 2017
FinancialForce held its first big time user conference in Las Vegas last week, headlined by new CEO Tod Nielsen. The company seems to be telling us that it is adjusting course in an effort to create a new category aligned with enterprise resource planning, but very much for this century. The key concept is services, which must be explained.
Sudo or Sudo Not, There Is No (4th) Try
June 24, 2017
If you're a Linux user, at some point in some tutorial or troubleshooting guide you've more than likely encountered Linux's magic word: "sudo". A casual observer probably can tell you that it's used to access restricted functions on your computer, but there is much more to it than that. My hope is that by taking a moment to learn about the power of "sudo", you will be better equipped to use it.
3 WannaCry Talking Points to Win Security Buy-In
June 21, 2017
By this point, most technology practitioners -- and nearly all security practitioners -- know about WannaCry. In fact, you might be sick of people analyzing it, rehashing it, sharing "lessons learned" about it, and otherwise laying out suggestions -- in some cases, contradictory -- about what you might do differently in the future. The level of unsolicited advice can border on the annoying.
Savvy Marketers Don't Ditch the Non-Digital
June 20, 2017
A good motto for modern marketing would be, "When in doubt, check the data." Perhaps an even better one would be, "When not in doubt, check the data to see if you should be." There's never been a time when we've had such an ability to compile, collate, analyze and understand marketing data. It's not possible to get by on intuition -- even if it's rooted in deep experience and personal knowledge.
The Art of Manipulation and Misdirection
June 19, 2017
Last week, I listened to an economist talk about Apple's complaints that Qualcomm had charged Apple too much for access to patents. What was fascinating was that Apple had folks focused on the 5 percent Qualcomm had charged it instead of on the massive profit that Apple made on each phone. The price of the iPhone 8 likely will be well over $1,000 -- but it could cost well under $500 to build.
Securing Your Linux System Bit by Bit
June 13, 2017
As daunting as securing your Linux system might seem, one thing to remember is that every extra step makes a difference. It's almost always better to make a modest stride than let uncertainty keep you from starting. Fortunately, there are a few basic techniques that greatly benefit users at all levels, and knowing how to securely wipe your hard drive in Linux is one of them.
Salesforce Parallelism
June 12, 2017
For several years now, Salesforce has built distinct product lines that all work off the same platform and can integrate in interesting ways. There are product lines for the enterprise, small and mid-sized businesses, business-to-business firms and business-to-consumer operations -- and probably some others that I haven't considered. The rationale for all of these new products is simple.
Gadget Ogling: Apple at Home
June 12, 2017
The battle for your home just got a little more intense as Apple pulled back the curtain on HomePod, its smart speaker that seeks to hold dominion over your home empire and all the gadgets that reside within. HomePod holds a 4-inch woofer and seven tweeters, and it has six microphones to pick up your voice commands for Siri, wherever you happen to be in the room.
Hearing Crickets at Apple's WWDC and a Pin Drop in the Senate
June 12, 2017
The two mammoth events last week were the Apple WWDC keynote and ex-FBI chief James Comey's appearance at a Senate committee hearing. Now I'm sure a lot of folks didn't have the time to watch both events -- and particularly for the Comey event, I'm sure the coverage has the right and the left believing very different realities. Apple is becoming more and more like a typical tech firm.
The [xxx] Economy
June 6, 2017
While sitting in the audience at Zuora's recent Subscribed event, I couldn't help contemplate the meaning and progress of what was once a set of words that didn't roll off the tongue. I am talking about the "subscription economy" -- and it's really something. The data coming in from a variety of sources shows how rapidly subscriptions have become a big part of our lives, and why not?
Seeding the Next Generation of Consultancies
June 6, 2017
There's been a lot written recently about how artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation are going to displace millions of workers. However, these powerful new technologies already have spawned a surge in demand for a new wave of highly skilled consultants to help organizations capitalize on the added business opportunities resulting from the latest innovations.
Managing Commissions to Boost Sales Productivity
June 5, 2017
Ask salespeople and they'll tell you: They don't have enough time in the day to sell. That's not because the laws of physics cause salespeople to move through time faster than the rest of us -- it's because salespeople are pulled in many directions over the course of a day, cutting into their selling time. Actual selling takes up just 36 percent of the average salesperson's time.
The Max-Q: The Coolest Thing Out of Computex
June 5, 2017
I didn't attend Computex this year, and that was sad for everything but my budget, because there was a ton of cool stuff announced at the show. Dell, HP and Lenovo showed off new designs that were both attractive and compelling. Mixed-reality headsets hit; based on Intel and Microsoft technology, they were far more affordable than the strong virtual reality stuff already in market.
PCs Shine Again, but for How Long?
June 1, 2017
Just when PCs looked to be dying a slow, painful death, they became interesting again. As expected, this week's news coming from Computex is flush with new PCs and PC technologies, but is it enough to reinvigorate a market that has faced declining sales since 2011? The market peaked at just over 365 million units annually, and fell to 269 million units last year. So, why all the excitement?
Hacking and Linux Go Together Like 2 Keys in a Key Pair
May 31, 2017
Ever since taking an interest Linux, with the specific aim of better understanding and enhancing my personal digital security, I have been fascinated by hacker conferences. As soon as I learned of their existence, I made a point of keeping tabs on the major conferences so I could browse through the latest videos in their archive once each one wraps up. I thought that was the closest I would get.
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