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Zuora at a Crossroads
June 18, 2018
Zuora's recent Subscribed user conference was a good first outing since the company's IPO, coming off some impressive first-quarter results. Year-over-year subscription revenues grew 39 percent and total revenue grew an amazing 60 percent, for example. As good as its present situation is, now that Zuora is a public company, it has to push down the gas pedal to feed the insatiable stock market.
SAP Discovers CRM
June 6, 2018
SAP has unveiled a new attempt to consolidate a group of about a dozen front office apps into a fully integrated CRM suite -- next year. How do you say "lipstick on a pig" in a non-derogatory way? Look, CRM is over 20 years old now. For most of the early days, the vendors scrambled to integrate their apps into a coherent whole, supporting multiple customer-facing processes.
Oracle's Security Jag
June 2, 2018
Oracle has been on a security campaign ever since Larry Ellison openly began discussing the new "autonomous database" -- so called because it can manage itself, including self-patching and upgrading, without human effort. The hands-off database can eliminate human labor to keep it tuned and running, according to Oracle, greatly reducing the time between availability and implementation.
Benioff Endorses GDPR for US
May 27, 2018
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff described Facebook as the "new cigarettes" in a recent appearance on the TV show CBS This Morning and called for the U.S. to adopt a national privacy law like the GDPR, which just went into effect in Europe. "Maybe this is a time where the government has to step in and regulate not just that product but really our industry," Benioff said, referring to Facebook.
Middle Office or No-Man's Land?
May 20, 2018
It was once common knowledge that Apttus was the next big acquisition target on Salesforce's radar, until Salesforce decided to acquire another CPQ vendor to augment its Sales Cloud. In the two-ish years since, Apttus has nicely pivoted, diversifying its partner base and justifying its existence with a new strategy and nomenclature around what it calls the "middle office."
Oracle's Drive to Automate
May 13, 2018
Oracle -- or could we say "Autoracle"? -- has introduced more autonomous products, generally in keeping with what I see as a build-out of an information utility. The products include Autonomous Analytics, Autonomous Integrations, Autonomous Builder code generation and free premium service. The autonomous products broadly leverage a variety of analytics and machine learning tools.
Platform Logic
May 1, 2018
For some time, it has been my impression that in the CRM market, all -- or at least most -- of the good ideas have been taken. It's been a long time since we've seen a new systemic approach to front-office business. It's even been a long time since we've seen a major innovation at the department level. CRM itself was a systemic innovation in the last decade of the last century.
The Scaling Challenge
April 26, 2018
There is a meme making the rounds and I have no idea how old it is or its origins but I've heard it twice in the last week. It's easier to start a company than it is to scale one. You can't say it's a revolutionary thought, but for the last 20 years the emphasis has been decidedly on founding, so this is something of a departure. Startups don't grow to the moon on average.
Honesty Proves Best Policy for Closing B2B Deals: Study
April 23, 2018
Vendors have a better shot at closing deals for large-scale B2B software purchases when they are upfront and honest about the quality of their products, a new study suggests. There is a bit of a trust gap between what is promised in negotiations for these deals and what actually is provided, indicates the poll of more than 650 technology vendors and buyers.
Zuora Takes It to the Big House
April 17, 2018
After nearly a decade of company building, Zuora last week went public, valuing itself on the open market at roughly US$2 billion after gaining 43 percent on its first day of trading. Those outlines don't reveal the importance of Zuora generally, and subscription billing systems in particular, to the rapid evolution of the subscription economy and CRM.
Digital Disruption
April 4, 2018
Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfesson, who teach at MIT's Sloan School of Management, started writing about the impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning almost a decade ago. Their early books provided deep insights into the way the era we live in would unfold. A lot of their ideas were on display last week at TrailHeaDX: The Salesforce Developer Conference in San Francisco.
Salesforce's Latest Big Gamble: APIs
March 25, 2018
Anyone who has attempted to adopt Salesforce cloud solutions in an enterprise environment knows that it may not be as easy as expected because of the additional effort typically required to integrate data sources. This is a common problem that has plagued the enterprise application industry since its inception. In fact, it spawned an entire subsegment of integration vendors and service providers.
Healthcare, CRM's New Vertical
March 14, 2018
Healthcare might offer the best example of the potential for vertical market CRM, but most people in CRM may not realize this. Healthcare is, after all, a bit of a stretch from what we do in the enterprise or SMB world, but perhaps it shouldn't be. In both spheres we see a relatively small number of highly paid and overworked people addressing the needs of a vast number of people.
To Fix Healthcare, Fix IT First
March 1, 2018
We spend a great deal of time and effort trying to make healthcare more affordable and to ensure better outcomes. Too often, the upshot is to reduce all problems and challenges to a singularity in search of a silver bullet. It never works, but it seems like human nature to take that approach. Salesforce has taken a tactic that is bearing fruit, in part because it isn't really trying to fix healthcare.
AdRoll Creates New Division to Target B2B Marketers
February 28, 2018
AdRoll has announced RollWorks, a new division that will provide business-to-business marketers with highly targeted, personalized marketing at scale across multiple channels and devices. The result of a corporate restructuring, RollWorks will focus specifically on B2B marketing, while the AdRoll business unit will focus on the company's legacy products for e-commerce SMBs.
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.
Salesforce's Triangulation Strategy
January 24, 2018
Partnerships may be playing the role usually reserved for M&A activity in the CRM world right now. Generally a company makes a purchase when it wants to capture the benefits of another business' R&D or established market base. However, at the moment it appears that the desirable targets are too big to swallow, and the result is more partnering between the big guys and the really big guys.
Infrastructure as an Anchor
January 18, 2018
Oracle's race to the cloud has offered multiple successes to its investors and some disappointment as well. No transition of this magnitude can be expected to run like clockwork, but the difference between revenues for Oracle's Software as a Service apps for last quarter, $1.1 billion, and those for its Infrastructure as a Service apps, at $396 million, should at least get you thinking.
Cloud Training to Boost Competitive Advantage Strategies
January 11, 2018
One of the biggest challenges facing organizations of all sizes trying to move to the cloud is finding and retaining the skilled workers necessary to implement today's rapidly expanding assortment of on-demand services. This skills gap cost companies more than $250 million in lost business opportunities in just one year, according to a recent survey conducted by the London School of Economics.
The Platform Wars of 2018
January 10, 2018
The new battleground in enterprise software is likely to be the software platform. This is not to say that analytics and security are not important, but they are being handled in different ways. Security is being handled in ways that address both hardware and software vulnerabilities, but these things aren't what customers or consumers spend their days thinking about.
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.
Reading Between Oracle's Lines
December 19, 2017
Oracle's most recent financial report reveals some hints about its future. Oracle has posted some very impressive numbers as its cloud computing products and services have taken off, and the recent Q2 reporting is a fine reference point. From the company's Q2 announcement: Cloud SaaS revenues were up 55 percent; PaaS plus IaaS revenues were up 21 percent; total cloud revenues were up 44 percent.
Cool Effect
December 8, 2017
Dreamforce is a bit like a holiday feast in that there are usually leftovers to savor. One of the stories that didn't get enough attention was Salesforce's path to becoming a carbon-neutral company. Time to savor it. Salesforce has made a monumental effort to switch to green electricity generation and ensure that its buildings and business processes are as light on the planet as possible.
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.
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.
Email Marketing Goes Hand-in-Glove With E-Commerce Shipping
October 20, 2017
ShippingEasy on Thursday launched Automated Email Marketing as an addition to its customer management module. This new tool has a powerful rules engine that helps users increase sales, the company said. Among other things, it can set up a trigger to send an email to first-time buyers immediately after an order is downloaded -- customized with a logo and specific coupon code if desired.
Counting Down to ASC 606
October 19, 2017
There will be little New Year's Eve celebrating but perhaps a lot of morning-after hangovers for U.S. businesses that haven't begun preparing for ASC 606, the Financial Accounting Standards Board's new rules about revenue recognition. They are set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018. The news is much the same for Europe, though there the rule's name is "IFRS 15." The change is hard to do.
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