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Zoho VP Rodrigo Vaca: AI Can Help Salespeople Seize the Moment
March 26, 2018
"The rise of artificial intelligence, for sales teams both internally and externally, is the biggest trend in the industry," observed Rodrigo Vaca, vice president of marketing for CRM at Zoho. If you think of CRM as the centerpiece for your company, and you marry that with the escalating amount of data that each company is gathering each day, ... you can do any sort of analysis on it."
Managing in Mature Markets
March 20, 2018
Markets and companies change as industries grow and as a disruptive innovation commoditizes. Generally, prices come down because the innovation becomes commonplace and competitors fight for every scrap causing margin erosion. Eventually markets equilibrate, and a monopoly or small oligopoly sets in. We can see this playing out right now -- mature industries like databases have an oligopoly set up.
Facebook's Vulnerabilities Surface
March 7, 2018
Adam Smith famously referred to "the invisible hand" of the free market in his landmark book The Wealth of Nations, and with that made himself one of the very first political economists. Smith's observation was so on point that most of us assume markets run through the agency of individuals pursuing their enlightened self-interests, which helped drive the evolution of CRM as a tracking tool.
Customer Experience Revolution Ahead: Gartner
February 24, 2018
Enterprises have begun overhauling the way they handle customer experiences, suggested Gene Alvarez, managing vice president at Gartner, at the firm's customer experience event in Tokyo earlier this week. Twenty percent of brands will abandon their mobile apps by 2019, he predicted, choosing consumer messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WeChat instead.
Keeping It Simple
February 22, 2018
Disruptive innovations expose longstanding needs and signal that there's a solution at hand -- one that usually is less expensive than the status quo. The lower-cost aspect makes adoption inevitable and disruptive. Document management is like that. Decades ago, many enterprises found that the cost of capturing documents as electronic images vastly improved on costly file cabinet systems.
Broken Corporate Processes Degrade Customer Experience: Survey
February 21, 2018
Broken corporate processes have been contributing to negative customer experiences, a recent survey suggests. One thousand employees in U.S. companies with a workforce of 500 or more who work on a computer or mobile device for more than five hours a day responded to the online survey conducted by Nintex. Overall, 54 percent observed broken administrative processes within their organization.
Advanced Selling Strategies
February 17, 2018
One of CRM's overlooked benefits, accrued over many years, is its influence on business processes. Twenty or so years ago, front-office business processes were simplistic, due in part to the lack of technology support. For example, business leaders might have wanted to peer into a sales process to better incentivize sales reps, but rarely did so because it required a lot of data.
Trending in CRM
February 14, 2018
It's uncertain how the CRM market will look in six months, given the stock market, the economy and the tax bill. Initial indications are that more money will be available for various corporate activities, like hiring and rewarding employees and investments in products and business processes. If so, a decent amount of cash might find its way into various CRM company coffers.
To Win in the New Delivery Economy, Go to the Cloud
February 12, 2018
As Amazon sets consumer expectations for rapid delivery to the home, companies in nearly every industry have been recognizing that they must move to the cloud to keep pace. This means revamping their transportation and logistics systems to meet their customers' escalating delivery expectations. These rising demands have been fueling the growth of a new generation of cloud-based, SaaS solutions.
Five9 President Dan Burkland: Leveraging Tech for Great Customer Experiences
February 7, 2018
"We're seeing a digital transformation take place, where companies are moving their contact centers to the cloud," noted Dan Burkland, president of Five9. "There are two key criteria for a contact center -- there's the CRM and the contact center infrastructure, and those two really go hand-in-hand. You bring a call, chat, text or email into the center, and you have to look for an agent who's available and properly skilled to handle such an interaction."
Document Management Revisited
February 5, 2018
The IT industry has been playing whack-a-mole since its inception. We've been applying sophisticated technology to our biggest business problems not once but repeatedly, as each new generation of technology offers and delivers order-of-magnitude improvements to our business processes. In some cases, we're on our fourth or fifth iteration of solutions.
The Top 20 CRM Blogs of 2017: Countdown, Part 2
January 31, 2018
Where does the discipline of CRM begin? We have a good idea where the software fits, but where does its impact end? With a sale? With a customer saying good things about your company to other customers? With a repeat purchase? And does CRM contribute to these events alone, or is there a web of other activities that help drive these relationships -- and do we ever consider these things to be CRM?
The Top 20 CRM Blogs of 2017: Countdown, Part 1
January 22, 2018
Something very interesting is happening in the world of CRM blogs: CRM is becoming less and less of a subject. Oh, it's in there -- it's just being elbowed to the back of the stage by a whole host of other related disciplines and technologies. Customer experience, customer engagement and content marketing are vying with artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and bots to elbow ahead of CRM.
CRM in 2018
January 3, 2018
Figuring out the year ahead in CRM is tricky and getting more so. Making predictions has been more challenging for the last several years. We've seen an array of new technologies take root and blossom, but managers have had trouble figuring out how to adopt them. Those innovations have fueled a lot of anxiety in the C-suite about digital disruption, but each company's disruption is different.
2017: CRM in Full Stride
December 23, 2017
There was a lot in customer relationship management to like in 2017. The industry racked up north of $35 billion and the cloud reigned supreme. However, future growth presents a challenge. We're going to need to look beyond selling generic seats to grow the CRM market from here. It's a whole new ball game now that Oracle has credible cloud CRM. Other vendors will need to bring their A-games.
B2B Digital Ad Spending to Jump Next Year
December 18, 2017
B2B ad spending will increase 13 percent in 2018 to hit $4.6 billion from this year's estimated $4.07 billion, eMarketer has predicted. However, its proportion of all U.S. digital ad spending will remain unchanged at 4.9 percent, which implies growth in other digital ad spend areas as well. Desktops and laptops will continue to attract the bulk of B2B digital ad spend, according to eMarketer.
Most Marketers Struggle to Reach Targeted Customers
December 16, 2017
Sixty percent of the digital marketing professionals who responded to a recent survey reported difficulty in reaching their target audiences with messaging and content. Only 19 percent of those surveyed were "very familiar" with how automation could help drive marketing campaigns, according to Ytel. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed said they liked to use phones for marketing.
Creeping Decentralization and CRM
December 13, 2017
One of the big stories of next year might be decentralization. Decentralization is what it sounds like: pushing centralized processes and decision-making to the periphery, where it is believed people can be more effective at dealing with whatever is on tap. Western democratic capitalism runs circles around Soviet style centralized command-and-control economics.
Machines Could Become Driving Force Behind CX
December 6, 2017
Customer experience improvements have become an important part of companies' digital transformations, according to survey results Mitel released Tuesday. More than 2,500 senior IT decision makers across North America, the UK, France, Germany and Australia responded to the survey. The participants represented businesses ranging from 250 to 10,000-plus employees in a wide range of industries.
B2B Tech Marketers Have Work Cut Out for Them
December 4, 2017
Product reliability and ease of use are key for B2B technology marketers, suggests a recent survey of technology product and service decision makers in the U.S. Four hundred B2B tech buyers participated in the survey, conducted for Lavidge by WestGroup Research. Overall, 68 percent cited reliability as the most critical criterion in their purchase decisions; 64 percent said ease of use was key.
Everybody Talks About CX, but Nobody Does Anything About It
November 21, 2017
Customer experience quality didn't improve in the retail industry this year, despite keen competition among online retailers, according to Forrester's U.S. 2017 Customer Experience Index. The three top-ranked etailers came within fractions of a point of each other. Among the industries Forrester examined, online retail was the only one in which no brands kept the same position as last year.
E-Commerce Provides Fertile Ground for B2B Growth
November 19, 2017
Business-to-business firms view increased online activity as an effective way to boost their growth, according to a new report from CloudCraze. Eighty-nine percent of the 400-plus B2B decision makers CloudCraze surveyed in the United States and Europe expected digital commerce would help their businesses grow. E-commerce has altered the role of sales teams, the CloudCraze survey also suggests.
Revisiting Show Season
November 14, 2017
Show season changes the CRM market. One day you're in the vanilla application software space, and a week later you understand the need to incorporate social media or analytics or machine learning, or you see a need for enhanced integration and development through platform services. It goes on. Today, in the wake of many companies' trade shows, we're again taking a look at the available suites.
Real Human Interactions Beat Automation, Survey Says
November 13, 2017
Customers prefer human interactions to IVR systems or other automated customer service offerings, according to a new report from B2B ratings firm Clutch. Businesses need to move carefully when outsourcing customer service operations, the research also suggested, because there are big differences depending on a number of factors, including how familiar reps are with the local language.
Driving Digital Transformation by Making Citizen Developers Heroes
November 10, 2017
Corporate executives know that if they don't transform their companies into digital enterprises they're going to be at a significant competitive disadvantage. Yet many corporate leaders have been unable to make significant progress transforming their organizations. Many executives have found that changing their corporate cultures is a lot harder than adopting cloud-based applications and services.
Dreamforce Pivot
November 9, 2017
Dreamforce 2017 is in full swing this week in San Francisco, which means that Salesforce is changing, shedding a skin to reveal a new and improved creature. This time, rather than announcing a new cloud or a mountain of technology, the company seems focused on improving what it has and delivering a tighter and more powerful solution set for a future that's just emerging.
With Gamification, CRM Is a Brand New Ball Game
October 27, 2017
Advances in technology -- including speech analytics, metrics, a wider array of scrabble data, and perhaps even big data -- are making gamification a must-have tool in customer relationship management, call centers, collections, sales and other business areas. Technological advances have enabled the design of games that offer employees incentives to make customers happy.
Retailers Slowly Embracing In-Store Tech Tools
October 16, 2017
Most retailers don't have the in-store technology to view customer information across various touchpoints, suggests a new study from Kibo. Fifty-eight percent of retailers who participated in the study, released last Thursday, acknowledged they did not have that capability. The study was based on questions posed to 115 retail executives during the Future Stores 2017 conference.
Study: Music Improves Customer Experience, Even in Serious Settings
October 14, 2017
Music can enhance the customer experience even in nontraditional retail environments, suggests a study released Thursday by Mood Media and the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers. The study was conducted in France. Customers had a more favorable experience in five business locations -- including gas station, optical, banking, sports apparel and pharmacy locations, the study found.
OpenWorld 2017
October 10, 2017
I spent last week at Oracle's OpenWorld 2017 in San Francisco. When I wasn't drinking from an information fire hose, it was alternately fascinating and exhausting. There were major announcements in database, blockchain, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and other stuff I'm associated with only tangentially. For instance, my eyes glaze over when they start talking about bare metal servers.
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What best describes your attitude toward social networks and politics?
The value of engaging in serious political discourse outweighs the negatives.
Most of the political conversations seem overheated and ignorant.
Social networks provide a lot of very good political information from reliable sources.
Almost every political post I see is skewed or totally fake.
Political interactions on social networks simply mirror those in the real world.
Social networks remove inhibitions, bringing out the worst in people and politics.