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Closing the Enterprise Security Skills Gap
April 18, 2018
The security skills gap has become a topic of acute interest among practitioners responsible for building security teams for their organizations -- and keeping them running smoothly. It impacts everything from how they staff, how they cultivate and develop their workforces, and how they train, to the operational controls they put in place, and potentially numerous other things.
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.
Swedish Sounds, Cool Phones, and Smart Switches
April 17, 2018
Not quite content with furnishing every other aspect of our homes, IKEA has continued its push into smart home territory with its first Bluetooth speaker. The Eneby comes in two sizes: 8 x 8 and 12 x 12 inches. You can use it as a portable speaker with up to 10 hours of battery life with the optional $20 battery, and there's a handle for added portability.
Facebook and Google Could Be Nationalized in 5-10 Years
April 16, 2018
After I considered Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's testimony before Senate and House committee hearings last week, it became very clear to me -- and I expect many in Congress -- that social media companies need to be regulated. However, I think this is only a step in the path that governments -- and I do mean more than the U.S. -- will take to ensure their effectiveness and protect their people.
UC Has a Bright Future as the Next Generation of Business Communications
April 12, 2018
Unified communications is coming on strong and growing fast. It is positioned as the next big step forward in the communications industry, both wireline and wireless. In the past, companies of every size had to have telephone gear -- like an expensive and complicated private branch exchange -- that was paid for, installed and continually updated. The rise of UC has replaced that burden.
What Should We Expect From AI?
April 12, 2018
Fear mongering about killer robots and the recent deaths connected with Uber and Tesla autonomous vehicles have rekindled concerns about AI in the machines around us. We are well beyond answering Alan Turing's question, "can machines think?" There is now good reason to ask how we should think of AI, and what we should expect from it. There have been phenomenal advances in just the past few years.
Beyond CRM
April 10, 2018
We should start discussing what's beyond CRM. I chose the word "beyond" advisedly. CRM is far from dead or even in decline, so "after" would be incorrect. However, CRM already has changed so much that it may be time to rethink it. Also, many of the tangential technologies that have turbocharged CRM in the last few years, like social media, have drawn so much attention that some analysis is due.
Turning Social Media From a Problem Into a Solution
April 9, 2018
The shooting incident that took place last week at YouTube had less to do with guns than with the failure of the police to act on information in a timely way and the inability of social media to be anything but part of the problem. Google has been giving this issue little more than lip service, but I expect it has become motivated to do more, given that YouTube was the latest target.
The Danger of Underestimating Your Brand's Value
April 5, 2018
A solid brand is key to business success, but over the years I have seen many companies try to commit suicide by killing the brand identities they spent so many years and so much money creating. Many are now gone. Others are still around, but in a weakened position. You must give the customer a compelling, emotional reason to want to be connected to your company.
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.
The Power of Social Media and the Coming Repeal of the 2nd Amendment
April 2, 2018
One of the most powerful political organizations in the U.S. is the National Rifle Association. The president of the United States recently claimed he wasn't afraid of the NRA, only to have an NRA spokesperson -- not the president himself -- later announce that the president had changed his mind. It was painful to watch the most powerful man in the free world be treated like a small child.
It's Getting Lonely at Quota Club
March 27, 2018
Sales people and their managers should be celebrating the economic gains of the last few years but for many of them the gains may be illusory. Sixty-three percent of sales reps made quota in 2012, but five years later -- despite an improving economy -- that number dropped to 53 percent, according to CSO Insights' continuing research, which stretches over more than two decades.
Chaos Threatens Tech Takeover
March 26, 2018
The tech world experienced more insanity last week. We finally got confirmation from AMD that the CTS Labs security report was a tempest in a teapot, but the big question remained unanswered. A self-driving Uber vehicle killed a pedestrian, but we didn't ask the right questions. Facebook admitted that it gave our information to a bad actor, and we forgot what really would wake up Zuckerberg.
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.
The Social Utility
March 24, 2018
If you study economic cycles, you can watch the evolution of a disruptive technology throughout its lifecycle, from a specific product to a competitive industry. The last phase in the evolutionary chain is the formation of a utility. For example, over a couple of centuries we've seen the evolution of electricity from a curiosity, to a business, to a group of public companies.
Squandering Customer Loyalty Is Risky Business
March 22, 2018
Customers often make investments in their relationships with the businesses they choose to patronize. There is plenty of competition, so companies must pay attention. It's only when a company respects and wants a customer as much as the customer wants the company that things will go well, and a long-term brand relationship will be created. However, too many companies focus only on themselves.
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.
Fake News Has Become an Existential Threat
March 19, 2018
The scene in A Few Good Men with Jack Nicholson going off on handling the truth has been coming to mind way too often of late. Sadly, this is the world we are living in right now, and social media is at the heart of it. I recently noticed a headline that implied a lot of people had taken exception to something Gal Gadot tweeted about Stephen Hawking.
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.
I Have Seen Technology's Future
March 12, 2018
One of the most interesting parts of Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference, Inception, allows small focused startups to pitch their ideas in a Shark Tank-like atmosphere to compete for a significant cash prize. Two of the more compelling solutions were presented by companies run by women this year. However, the big news was a company that was well along the way to creating an electronic human/machine interface.
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.
Most Companies Have No Idea Where They Are Going
March 5, 2018
Dell recently collaborated with the Institute for the Future -- an interesting think tank largely driven by futurists, which focuses on helping firms ride future waves rather than being killed by them -- on a survey that creates a frightening view of 2030. It could be far closer to Terminator than the utopia we once hoped for. I think more companies should go through a process like this.
Mobile Pay, Smart Speaker Brand Confusion Means No Winners
March 1, 2018
Google Pay launched last week, becoming the latest entry in the world of master-brand confusion. The new Google Pay combines features of Android Pay and Google Wallet, brands that each had different brand relationships with customers. That means the master brand message, which should be simple and clean, and which Google should have been building all along, is shaky at best.
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.
When It's Time for a Linux Distro Change
February 27, 2018
It's common for Linux users to hop between distributions and survey the field, and I recently reached a point where I had to seriously rethink the one I was using most of the time. Between hardware compatibility issues with my old standby and some discouraging missteps with other go-to choices, I felt the time had come to reassess my pool of preferred distributions and repopulate it from scratch.
Real Danger and Dangerous Distraction - AI to the Rescue?
February 26, 2018
The shooting at the school in Florida was devastating, and it appears clear that Russia has been manipulating public opinion in the U.S. to stoke the flames of a divisive argument on guns. What is being missed is a brewing problem that potentially could have an even more devastating impact. Competing for our eyeballs is the news that the U.S. president kissed a woman without her permission.
'Different Strokes' Approach Can Damage a Brand
February 23, 2018
One fundamental element of building a brand relationship with customers is consistency. Widely franchised companies like Starbucks compromise consistency, however. They employ several different business models instead of sticking to one. This approach confuses customers and hurts the master brand, since customers never really know what to expect.
Gadget Ogling: A Different Sort of Activity Tracker and a Smartwatch for Kids
February 21, 2018
More often than I'd care to admit, I feel the seconds, minutes, and hours of a day slip into the ether before I realize it's happening. When it's time for bed and I try to take stock of my day, it's difficult to recall exactly how I spent my time. As someone who would like to be more efficient and productive, I think Timeflip seems like a terrific way to keep track of where my time goes.
Are You Engineering the Customer Experience Out of Your Business?
February 20, 2018
Automation. Robots. Technology taking our jobs. I defy you to pick up a business magazine and avoid this topic -- it will be in there somewhere. Here's another theme you won't be able to avoid: the need to focus on the customer experience. These two trends are in tension much of the time. They don't have to be, but most businesses seem determined to focus on themselves instead of the customer.
Silicon Valley's Corrupt Underbelly: It's Far Worse Than We Thought
February 19, 2018
After addressing the topic of sexual harassment and misconduct in Silicon Valley last month, I finally got my hands on a copy of Brotopia, an eye-opening new book, and a lot of executives should be happy I did not pursue my career in law enforcement. Otherwise I would be working my butt off to get them off the streets behind bars. Everyone connected to tech should read this book.
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Why is Facebook taking so much more heat about data privacy than Google?
Google actually manages personal data more responsibly.
It's Facebook's turn now -- Google is next.
Google's data collection and sharing activities are less obvious.
Facebook is a scapegoat for the entire tech industry.
Google is more powerful than Facebook.