Denis Pombriant

About the Author Denis Pombriant


Enterprise Apps

The Platform Wars of 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.

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Trends

CRM in 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.

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Sales

CPQ’s Other Life

Configure, Price, Quote systems have a name problem. When they debuted, their basic functions gave a name to the category that was self-explanatory, and it fit well. As with any good idea in technology, however, frequent use brought with it demand for more functionality that quickly outstripped the technology’s charter — a happy problem.

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Vendors

Revisiting Show Season

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.

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Customers

Oil Patch CRM

A recent story chilled me to the bone. The headline supplies all the reasons: “Saudi Arabia’s Grand Plan to Move Beyond Oil: Big Goals, Bigger Hurdles.” At first glance, this doesn’t ring any CRM bells, but maybe it should. Why would any business or business-state contemplate moving out of its sweet spot if it weren’t required to? What happens to the customers that have become dependent?

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Business

Counting Down to ASC 606

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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Vendors

Salesforce’s IoT Strategy

Salesforce is a large and well-disciplined development company. It’s pretty good at marketing too. It continues to innovate in all product areas, from core platform to applications, and the one criticism I’d make is that it’s information overload at times. Lately Salesforce has made a big deal of adding its AI product, Einstein, to every application area to provide insights and stack rank options.

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Vendors

Salesforce Gets Granular

If you need an example of digital disruption, you can’t do better than the retail banking industry. A byzantine collection of rules and regulations plus the overhang of many legacy systems have conspired to prevent banks from becoming more involved with their customers. Even innovations like the ATM, which entered the scene several decades ago, only serve to distance banks from their customers.

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Vendors

OpenWorld 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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Vendors

Show Season

Autumn officially kicked off about a week ago — not with some celestial convergence but with show season, with companies like HubSpot and SugarCRM holding conclaves of their faithful. This is traditionally the beginning of attempts at closing the calendar year on a high note, as CRM vendors work to garner customer dollars based on the promises of new technologies unveiled at conferences.

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Vendors

Digital Hub Returns

Digital Hub is not a new idea. It’s been percolating for a few years, and its roots can be traced to Dublin, Ireland, where in a cluster of eight buildings, there exists what might be the original hub. In Dublin, it’s made up of 97 companies employing 725 people, and it was given a jumpstart by the government in 2003. Elsewhere, we might be more attuned to the idea of a tech incubator.

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Sales

Einstein Tries Sales Forecasting

When Salesforce unveiled sales forecasting with its artificial intelligence tool, Einstein, my immediate reaction was that it should have tried something easier — like solving global warming. Really, a sales forecast that bears some resemblance to reality has been a grail quest for all of us for many years, and Salesforce is not the first software company to throw its hat in the ring.

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Vendors

Salesforce Parallelism

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.

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Trends

The [xxx] Economy

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?

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Vendors

The Subscription Economy’s Maturation

A lot happens in a decade. Bill Gates once said that we overestimate what we can do in two years and underestimate what we can do in 10. 2017 is a particularly good time to stop paddling and look back at what’s been going on in the last decade. While we will all have our favorite memories, there’s one in CRM that stands out more than others for me. After all, 2007 was the year of the iPhone.

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Analytics

Building a Sales Team by the Numbers

I don’t know why more subscription vendors don’t do this. Subscription companies collect mountains of data from their customers, and analyzing the aggregations can deliver profound insights virtually for free. Yet too often subscribers are reluctant to let their data be stripped of identifying characteristics and used for research. Too bad, because there’s gold in that big data.

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Vendors

Helpshift Integrates With Salesforce

Mobile technology has delivered a lot of useful functionality that enables vendors and their customers to be on the same page more frequently. However, the screen size has an inherent drawback: It shows a very narrow slice of a reality — typically one idea at a time. The problem is especially acute in the key areas of sales and service. A mobile “help” app should deliver help the customer values.

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Vendors

Ecosystem Two-Dot-Oh

Salesforce this week announced significant enhancements to its AppExchange Partner Program, including a $100 million Salesforce Platform Fund to encourage developers of AI-driven solutions. Salesforce arguably was the first kid on the block with a partner program of this kind in which buyers could access a large community of apps based on a single standard from a single store.

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Trends

Reasoning in CRM

It gives some measure of the importance we give to AI that I went to two conferences last week and sat through two panel sessions on the subject. At CRM Evolution, I was part of the discussion in a breakfast session. At the Oracle CX show, executives involved in the adaptive intelligent applications product line tried to define the basics in a session for analysts and reporters.

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Customer Experience

Then and Now

A few years ago, when Oracle was busy buying companies to fill out its front-office cloud offering, RightNow developed a “day in the life” video that has stuck with me. It was shown at RightNow’s last user meeting as an independent company. In fact, at the conference where it debuted, Oracle announced its acquisition of RightNow. The video’s importance was as a harbinger of things to come.

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Vendors

Oracle’s Strategery

Watching Oracle’s cloud strategy roll out has given me renewed respect for its approach to the market. As a company that has been public for a long stretch of time, Oracle has displayed all the warmth of an anaconda. I have friends there, and they are not anacondas, but I hope they know what I mean. Oracle knows its business and it’s making money, and it does it unabashedly.

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Deals

It’s Mud Season Again

It’s mud season here in New England — that time of year when everything merges into an amorphous mess. The gray sky merges with a gray landscape made into slop by continual rains and dirty gray melting snow. It’s hard to tell where one thing ends and another begins. Eventually the sun comes out and dries everything, the sky becomes distinct from the horizon, plants bloom, and order is restored.

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Enterprise Apps

Blockchain: CRM’s Next Frontier

We’ve seen a parade of technologies coming into the front office since 2000, including browser-based cloud computing, social media, mobile technology, workflow, journey mapping, and big data and analytics. It’s typical that at first there’s only a tenuous relationship between the technology and CRM’s original mission, but over a short time innovators adopt and commercialize the innovation.

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Analytics

Analytics and Workflow

There’s a big difference between B2C and B2B analytics that no vendors seem to be addressing, and it involves the consumption model. I recently spoke with K.V. Rao, founder and chief strategy officer of Aviso, an analytics company focused on sales, and his unabashed opinion is that “if you’re trying to expose insights and make things consumable, you have to address workflow.”

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Analytics

New Rules

One of the foundational ideas of business is the Pareto analysis, which tries to identify the small portion of factors that are responsible for the majority of business results. You know — 80 percent of profits come from 20 percent of the customer base, and similar observations. Vilfredo Pareto formulated a business classic that we now refer to simply as “the 80/20 rule.”

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marketing

Social Marketing Grows Up

Before there was experimental data to support various contentions, it made perfect sense to believe that the likes and endorsements posted to friends on social media would drive more business. After all, didn’t we all subscribe to the idea that a disgruntled customer would tell many more people about a brand’s shortcomings than a happy customer would sing its praises?

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Vendors

Oracle’s DB Dilemma

Seeking Alpha is an online outfit that offers investors good research and analysis on tech vendors, and it is especially well versed in Oracle. Its writers’ expertise involves matching technologies to investment attractiveness. I am sure you are familiar with the type. XYZ company’s product does this, it should result in sales of this much, and that will drive profits so that the stock is worth so much. You get the idea.

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