Monthly Archives: April 2017

Marketing Automation for the New Buyer’s Journey

blog title new buyers journey ma 351x200 Marketing Automation for the New Buyer’s Journey

Just a few short years ago, the average B2B buyer still responded well to the classic marketing and sales tag-team approach, with marketing providing high-quantity product exposure and sales moving in to close the deal. This had been the model for decades, and everyone (buyers and sellers alike) was trained to it.

And then the buyer broke the mold.

The evolution of the Internet drastically changed the way prospective buyers fulfill their needs and wants. Where once a scarcity of available information drove all buyers to the same mass-media outlets, such as trade magazines and industry conferences, buyers now have a world of information literally at their fingertips: over 1 billion smartphone subscriptions are reported globally. Today’s population is the most connected and self-educated to date.

In the modern world of data overstimulation, buyers seek relevance over all else. They actively seek out products that relate to their own individual interests, valuing the quality of information presented specific to their needs over the quantity of marketing touches.

And they’re taking control of their own buying experience: 78% start the buying process with a web search, and 50% research through peer reviews, blogs, and news sites before engaging directly with companies themselves. In effect, they proactively construct an educational curriculum for themselves that meets their unique needs, rather than passively absorbing marketing messages pushed through mass media.

Buyers have unprecedented, unlimited access to information and choice, giving them full control of their buying process. In fact, according to SiriusDecisions, 70% of the buying process is already complete by the time a prospective buyer is ready to talk to a sales rep.

How do marketing and sales teams respond to the challenges these new buyers present?

To reach these modern buyers, marketing teams need specific, targeted digital programs designed to adapt to the unique needs of every prospective buyer depending on where they are in the buyer’s journey. But sending marketing messages that are directly relevant to each individual in a diverse group is a tall order.

Enter marketing automation. Originally built to extend marketing and email capabilities for the large enterprise, the technology has evolved to enable meaningful connections to modern buyers that work as well for the small and mid-sized business as for the big ones.

The marketing automation platform has become a hub of marketing intelligence, tracking each individual buyer’s journey from their first touch point to their final sale, providing an in-depth view of the 70% of the buying process that traditionally occurs in the dark, beyond the firewall of traditional marketing and sales programs. Marketing automation overcomes this firewall – it’s the science and technology that enables marketing and sales to streamline, automate, illuminate, and measure the modern buyer’s journey through the purchase process.

Data is marketing’s new power.

Data that was previously unavailable to marketing and sales teams can now be tracked and analyzed, from the age-old staple of traditional demographics, to behavioral data like email clicks, website visits, and content downloads. Marketers are now empowered to measure this digital body language and discern where buyers are on their purchasing journey and what types of content they want to consume.

Marketing automation centralizes this intelligence. It identifies every meaningful interaction that a buyer has with your brand, following the individual’s journey toward making a purchase decision. It tracks, measures, and analyzes the data of every interaction so that marketing and sales teams can sell smarter to a more engaged audience.

So what do you do with this trove of data? It’s already clear that the number of prospects you reach – or “quantity of eyeballs” – is no longer a meaningful goal to pursue. The world of marketing and sales has changed, but not for the worse. What emerges is the ability to wait for likely buyers who will identify themselves as they become sales-ready, and follow up with a proactive, targeted outreach, making the marketing process more efficient.

The availability of behavioral data makes it possible for marketing teams to push content that is directly relevant to the buyer’s interests and stage in the purchasing journey. Instead of taking the control from the buyer, it is now the marketer’s job to help buyers make the purchase decisions they are currently contemplating, giving them the right information to come to a conclusion on their own.

Where do you start with marketing automation tech?

Getting started with marketing automation can be a daunting task – with so much information available, where do you start? Start with your buyer. Create your programs around what you know about your buyers, and build out from there:

  1. Map out typical buying stages.
    Take a close look at how your best customers make buying decisions. Are there common trigger events that cause prospects to start investigating new solutions? Common questions or challenges that must be overcome? Tip: talk to your sales team. They’ll have a pretty good idea of common decision stages.
  2. Map out programs and activities that will help you get in front of buyers at each stage.
    What do you need to do to get in front of buyers at each stage of the journey? Here you map out tactics, required content, and initiatives necessary to start getting in front of buyers as they begin to make their decision. For example, if most of your buyers start with a web search, creating great web content that’s optimized for search engines should be on the top of your list.
  3. Map out the systems and technologies needed to support the initiatives outlined in step 2.
    What technical systems do you need to support your activities? Ensure that your marketing automation platform meets your key requirements and has the flexibility to integrate with other technologies as your business needs expand. For instance: if SEO is one of your key tactics, you’ll need an SEO auditing tool, a feature that’s baked into top marketing automation platforms.

These three steps are the foundation for building a marketing and sales engine that is centered on your customers – not your teams or products. You’ll be well positioned to dive head first into the digital age and attract modern buyers with this customer-centered approach.

Dismantle, destroy, destruct the “sales vs. marketing” approach.

The traditional “versus” setup has been pitting marketing and sales teams against each other for years. Without a clear central focus on the modern buyer’s journey, sales and marketing teams often become adversaries.

The marketing team thinks the sales team is throwing away good leads out of laziness, and the sales team thinks the marketing team isn’t doing enough brand building or providing the quality leads the sales team needs to do its job. However, it’s likely that neither of these assumptions are true. Quite simply, the way buyers operate has changed. Marketing and sales teams need to change, too.

Nearly 80% of leads deemed “bad” by sales go on to make a purchase within 24 months. That’s a lot of missed opportunities. You know that sales rep who keeps complaining that the marketing team is sending him horrible leads? He might be missing out on some great deals. But on the other hand, he might be at least partially right! The leads he is getting probably aren’t ready to talk to a sales rep yet, leading to frustration from sales, marketing, and prospective customers alike.

With a focus on the buyer’s journey, and the new ability to track and measure that journey, marketing teams can prioritize prospects that are most likely to make a purchase now. And prospects that are earlier in the decision-making process can be held back and warmed up in an automated lead nurturing program.

Companies that use marketing automation see big returns.

So what does the adoption of marketing automation mean for the bottom-line? The figures are astounding:

  • Marketing automation helps you more efficiently engage prospects with information that’s directly relevant to them – this builds trust and understanding with your prospective buyers. For marketers who deploy lead nurturing, the return is a 2x win rate and a 47% increase in average order value.
  • Targeting the right content to the right prospects at the right time accelerates a buyer’s decision-making process. In fact, companies that use marketing automation also see 70% faster sales cycle times.
  • 67% of B2B marketers say lead nurturing increases sales opportunities throughout the funnel by at least 10%, with 15% seeing opportunities increase by 30% or more.

Want more information on how to use marketing automation to connect with the new breed of buyer? Check out how Act-On is paving the way with Adaptive Journeys.

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Microsoft Announces Integration Plans with LinkedIn

CRM Blog Microsoft Announces Integration Plans with LinkedIn

We’ve previously discussed Microsoft’s $ 26B purchase of LinkedIn and speculated how it might integrate with Dynamics 365. Now it appears that some of that speculation is coming true as Microsoft has revealed its first two tools to take advantage of LinkedIn data and Dynamics 365. These tools, available in July 2017, will challenge Microsoft’s competitors and will likely rank Microsoft high above their major competitors, including Salesforce, Oracle, and SAP.

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, has been under a lot of pressure to prove that Microsoft’s high-priced acquisition of LinkedIn was a beneficial one.  Nadella’s vision for Microsoft has always been to “empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. The new updates to Microsoft’s sales software and data integration with LinkedIn will allow for data to be used more efficiently and build better relationships. Nadella reports that Microsoft will continue its offering of LinkedIn data to other companies.

Two LinkedIn Integrations Announced

The first major announcement centered around a bundle of LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Dynamics 365. Costing $ 135 per month, ted to LinkedIn. The new insights LinkedIn Sales Navigator allows salespeople to deliver better outcomes and do their jobs more productively and efficiently. The app will utilize Azure powered AI features to AI dig thought a salesperson’s emails, calendar appointments, opportunities and LinkedIn relationships to look for buying signals as well as to uncover hidden relationships between coworkers and customer employees that can help to seal the deal.

Microsoft also announced Dynamics 365 for Talent, a new Human resources app. Available in July, this app integrates HR Profile data from multiple sources, including LinkedIn profiles, Office 365 and data in Dynamics 365. This is the first app released as part of Microsoft’s  upcoming Human Resource application.

More details are available on the official Microsoft Blog.

Informative Live Web Event-upcoming

On Wednesday, May 3 at 10 am ET, join the Microsoft Business Forward event.  Here you will learn more about Dynamics 365 and how these new solutions can help you and your employees.  You will hear from Microsoft leaders such as CEO Satya Nadella, Corporate VP James Phillips, Executive VP Judson Althoff among others.  Visit the virtual event site here to receive event updates and register to attend this live event.

About enCloud9

enCloud9, based in Omaha, NE has one of the most experienced Microsoft Dynamics CRM teams in the US. From pre-sales to project management, and user support, we respond quickly with our expertise to answer your questions.

Our history dates back to 2009 – During the Dynamics CRM 4.0 days! – but our experience dates back even longer. Our consultants have been advising companies for almost thirty years to give them the tools to achieve their goals. Our experience leads to your success. We use our unique approach in helping small and medium-sized businesses lower their costs and boost productivity through Microsoft’s powerful range of cloud-based software.

We can be contacted at our webform or call us today at 1-844-264-0729

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Mobileye, Intel’s $15.3 billion computer vision acquisition, partners with Nissan to crowdsource maps for autonomous cars

 Mobileye, Intel’s $15.3 billion computer vision acquisition, partners with Nissan to crowdsource maps for autonomous cars

Mobileye, the Israeli computer vision firm that’s currently in the process of being acquired by chip giant Intel for $ 15.3 billion, has announced a new tie-up with automotive giant Nissan to generate “anonymized, crowdsourced data” for precision mapping in autonomous cars.

Founded in 1999, Mobileye builds the visual smarts behind cars’ driver assistance systems that include adaptive cruise control and lane departure warnings. Its technology is already used by the likes of BMW, Volvo, Buick, and Cadillac, and last summer Mobileye announced a partnership with BMW and Intel to put self-driving cars into full production by 2021. The trio later committed to putting 40 autonomous test cars on public roads in the second half of 2017, before Intel went all-in and decided to buy Mobileye outright.

For self-driving cars to become a reality, carmakers and the technology companies they work with need access to accurate maps of roads and the environment around which autonomous cars will operate — these high-definition maps complement on-board sensors and add an additional level of safety. Mobileye’s existing Road Experience Management (REM) engine is essentially a mapping and localization toolset that can use any camera-equipped vehicle to capture and process data around geometry and physical landmarks, send it to the cloud, and then feed this back into autonomous car systems using minimal bandwidth. It’s basically a crowdsourced data collection effort using millions of cars already on the roads.

Mobileye already powers Nissan’s recently announced ProPilot, a system that’s similar to Tesla’s AutoPilot offering, which can already automate some car functions on the road, including steering and acceleration. And with Nissan recently kicking of its first self-driving car trials in London, it seems now is the time for Mobileye to work with Nissan to boost its crowdsourced mapping efforts.

This adds another major automaker to Mobileye’s existing roster of REM partners, which include the previously announced General Motors and Volkswagen, while the likes of Audio, BMW, and Daimler are on board via their ownership of the HERE mapping platform that partnered with Mobileye last year.

The more carmakers sign up to integrate Mobileye’s REM, the more data can be combined to scale the system to cover every locale where humans drive.

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Salesforce, QuintilesIMS Team to Push New Therapies to Market

Salesforce has entered an alliance with
QuintilesIMS’ aimed at helping life sciences companies move treatments from clinical phases to commercial applications more effectively.

QuintilesIMS, formed last year through the merger of healthcare data provider IMS Health and medical research firm Quintiles Transnational, is one of the world’s largest integrated healthcare services companies. The combined entity has 50,000 employees in 100 different countries.

QuintilesIMS plans to use the Salesforce Platform’s cloud, mobile, social and artificial intelligence capabilities to build new solutions to bring therapies to market.

Clinical Trials

Quintiles initially plans to use Salesforce to help manage clinical trials, patient recruitment, marketing and other functions, according to Quintiles spokesperson Tor Constantino.

For example, the companies will work together on ways to improve the feasibility of clinical trials, improve patient enrollment and communications, and help mitigate delays, he told CRM Buyer.

Over the long term, Quintiles plans to work with Salesforce on items like digital health, patient engagement and precision management, according to Constantino.

Salesforce has worked with Quintiles for more than a decade, dating back to 2004, when it inked a deal to provide CRM software for more than 2,000 users at Quintiles Transnational.

The alliance will help QuintilesIMS “create solutions that empower life sciences firms to collaborate with providers and patients in smarter and more predictive ways throughout the clinical life cycle,” said Salesforce COO Keith Block.

The deal represents “transformative potential for the life sciences industry, as it will better equip and enable our customers to meet the clinical and commercial challenges they face as they move healthcare forward,” noted Kevin Knightly, QuintilesIMS president, information and technology solutions.

The agreement represents a clear validation of Salesforce’s efforts to build its health cloud business, observed Jeff Kaplan, managing director at ThinkStrategies.

It shows how Salesforce’s cloud solutions can be leveraged with healthcare service providers like QuintelesIMS, he told CRM Buyer.

Mega Merger

The Salesforce deal is significant for QuintilesIMS, as it is one of the company’s first major announcements since the 2016 merger between Quintiles Transnational and IMS Health Holdings was announced nearly a year ago.

The goal of the merger was to help transform the clinical trial process while creating a database of anonymous patient information that could be used to drive new efficiencies in the pharmaceutical and patient care industries.

When announcing the merger, the companies anticipated the deal would create an annual run-rate in cost savings of US$ 100 million by year three. The combined companies reported revenue of $ 7.78 billion for 2016, an increase of more than 7.4 percent, and issued a full-year forecast of between $ 8.1 and $ 8.2 billion — between $ 4.40 and $ 4.55 a share.

The Salesforce deal is important because “partnership strategy is key,” said Sheryl Kingstone, research director at 451 Research.

“Salesforce looks to vertical partners such as QunitilesIMS to build upon the Salesforce platform for its customers,” she told CRM Buyer.

“While Salesforce has made headway into a few key verticals, it relies very heavily on its partners,” Kingstone pointed out. “Life Sciences and Healthcare are critical vertical markets that are undergoing digital transformation, with 32 percent in the planning stages and 24 percent in formal strategies.”

Salesforce last month entered an agreement to integrate the Veeva CRM and Salesforce Marketing Cloud to deliver a more coordinated and consistent experience for healthcare professionals.

Veeva is a worldwide provider of CRM for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, and the companies have more than 250 combined customers.
end enn Salesforce, QuintilesIMS Team to Push New Therapies to Market

David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain’s New York Business and The New York Times.

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CRM Buyer

Digital Transformation And The Successful Management Of Innovation

CDP 2 1 Digital Transformation And The Successful Management Of Innovation

Achieving quantum leaps through disruption and using data in new contexts, in ways designed for more than just Generation Y — indeed, the digital transformation affects us all. It’s time for a detailed look at its key aspects.

Data finding its way into new settings

Archiving all of a company’s internal information until the end of time is generally a good idea, as it gives the boss the security that nothing will be lost. Meanwhile, enabling him or her to create bar graphs and pie charts based on sales trends – preferably in real time, of course – is even better.

But the best scenario of all is when the boss can incorporate data from external sources. All of a sudden, information on factors as seemingly mundane as the weather start helping to improve interpretations of fluctuations in sales and to make precise modifications to the company’s offerings. When the gusts of autumn begin to blow, for example, energy providers scale back solar production and crank up their windmills. Here, external data provides a foundation for processes and decisions that were previously unattainable.

Quantum leaps possible through disruption

While these advancements involve changes in existing workflows, there are also much more radical approaches that eschew conventional structures entirely.

“The aggressive use of data is transforming business models, facilitating new products and services, creating new processes, generating greater utility, and ushering in a new culture of management,” states Professor Walter Brenner of the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, regarding the effects of digitalization.

Harnessing these benefits requires the application of innovative information and communication technology, especially the kind termed “disruptive.” A complete departure from existing structures may not necessarily be the actual goal, but it can occur as a consequence of this process.

Having had to contend with “only” one new technology at a time in the past, be it PCs, SAP software, SQL databases, or the Internet itself, companies are now facing an array of concurrent topics, such as the Internet of Things, social media, third-generation e-business, and tablets and smartphones. Professor Brenner thus believes that every good — and perhaps disruptive — idea can result in a “quantum leap in terms of data.”

Products and services shaped by customers

It has already been nearly seven years since the release of an app that enables customers to order and pay for taxis. Initially introduced in Berlin, Germany, mytaxi makes it possible to avoid waiting on hold for the next phone representative and pay by credit card while giving drivers greater independence from taxi dispatch centers. In addition, analyses of user data can lead to the creation of new services, such as for people who consistently order taxis at around the same time of day.

“Successful models focus on providing utility to the customer,” Professor Brenner explains. “In the beginning, at least, everything else is secondary.”

In this regard, the private taxi agency Uber is a fair bit more radical. It bypasses the entire taxi industry and hires private individuals interested in making themselves and their vehicles available for rides on the Uber platform. Similarly, Airbnb runs a platform travelers can use to book private accommodations instead of hotel rooms.

Long-established companies are also undergoing profound changes. The German publishing house Axel Springer SE, for instance, has acquired a number of startups, launched an online dating platform, and released an app with which users can collect points at retail. Chairman and CEO Matthias Döpfner also has an interest in getting the company’s newspapers and other periodicals back into the black based on payment models, of course, but these endeavors are somewhat at odds with the traditional notion of publishing houses being involved solely in publishing.

The impact of digitalization transcends Generation Y

Digitalization is effecting changes in nearly every industry. Retailers will likely have no choice but to integrate their sales channels into an omnichannel approach. Seeking to make their data services as attractive as possible, BMW, Mercedes, and Audi have joined forces to purchase the digital map service HERE. Mechanical engineering companies are outfitting their equipment with sensors to reduce downtime and achieve further product improvements.

“The specific potential and risks at hand determine how and by what means each individual company approaches the subject of digitalization,” Professor Brenner reveals. The resulting services will ultimately benefit every customer – not just those belonging to Generation Y, who present a certain basic affinity for digital methods.

“Think of cars that notify the service center when their brakes or drive belts need to be replaced, offer parking assistance, or even handle parking for you,” Brenner offers. “This can be a big help to elderly people in particular.”

Chief digital officers: team members, not miracle workers

Making the transition to the digital future is something that involves not only a CEO or a head of marketing or IT, but the entire company. Though these individuals do play an important role as proponents of digital models, it also takes more than just a chief digital officer alone.

For Professor Brenner, appointing a single person to the board of a DAX company to oversee digitalization is basically absurd. “Unless you’re talking about Da Vinci or Leibnitz born again, nobody could handle such a task,” he states.

In Brenner’s view, this is a topic for each and every department, and responsibilities should be assigned much like on a soccer field: “You’ve got a coach and the players – and the fans, as well, who are more or less what it’s all about.”

Here, the CIO neither competes with the CDO nor assumes an elevated position in the process of digital transformation. Implementing new databases like SAP HANA or Hadoop, leveraging sensor data in both technical and commercially viable ways, these are the tasks CIOs will face going forward.

“There are some fantastic jobs out there,” Brenner affirms.

Want more insight on managing digital transformation? See Three Keys To Winning In A World Of Disruption.

Image via Shutterstock


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Deploying Solutions from the Cortana Intelligence Gallery

 Deploying Solutions from the Cortana Intelligence Gallery

The Gallery is a community site. Many of the contributions are from Microsoft directly. Individual community members can make contributions to the Gallery as well.

The “Solutions” are particularly interesting. Let’s say you’ve searched and found Data Warehousing and Modern BI on Azure:

Deploying a Solution from the Gallery

What makes these solutions pretty appealing is the “Deploy” button. They’re packaged up to deploy all (or most) of the components into your Azure environment. I admit I’d like to see some fine-tuning of this deployment process as it progresses through the public preview. Here’s a quick rundown what to expect.

1|Create new deployment:

CISGallery Deployment 1 Deploying Solutions from the Cortana Intelligence Gallery

The most important thing in step 1 above is that your deployment name ends up being your resource group. The resource group is created as soon as you click the Create button (so if you change your mind on naming, you’ll have to go manually delete the RG). Also note that you’re only allowed 9 characters, which makes it hard to implement a good naming convention. (Have I ever mentioned how fond I am of naming conventions?!?)

Resource groups are an incredibly important concept in Azure. They are a way to logically organize related resources which (usually) have the same lifecycle and are managed together. All items within a single resource group are included in an ARM template. Resource groups can serve as a boundary for security/permissions at the RG level, and can be used to track the cost of a solution. So, it’s extremely important to plan out resource group structure in your real environment. In our situation here, having all of these related resources for testing/learning purposes is perfect.

2|Provide configuration parameters:

CISGallery Deployment 2 Deploying Solutions from the Cortana Intelligence Gallery

In step 2 above, the only thing we need to specify is a user and password. This will be the server admin for both Azure SQL Database and Azure SQL Data Warehouse which are provisioned. It will use SQL authentication.

As soon as you hit the Next button, the solution is provisioning.

3|Resource provisioning (automated):

 Deploying Solutions from the Cortana Intelligence Gallery

In step 3 above we see the progress. Depending on the type of resource, it may take a little while.


CISGallery Deployment 4 Deploying Solutions from the Cortana Intelligence Gallery

When provisioning is complete, as shown in step 4 above (partial screenshot), you get a list of what was created and instructions for follow-up steps. For instance, in this solution our next steps are to go and create an Azure Service Principal and then create the Azure Analysis Services model (via PowerShell script saved in an Azure runbook provided by the solution).

They also send an e-mail to confirm the deployment:

 Deploying Solutions from the Cortana Intelligence Gallery

If we pop over to the Azure portal and review what was provisioned so far, we see the following:

 Deploying Solutions from the Cortana Intelligence Gallery

We had no options along the way for selecting names for resources, so we have a lot of auto-generated suffixes for our resource names. This is ok for purely learning scenarios, but not my preference if we’re starting a true project with a pre-configured solution. Following an existing naming convention is impossible with solutions (at this point anyway). A wish list item I have is for the solution deployment UI to display the proposed names for each resource and let us alter if desired before the provisioning begins.

The deployment also doesn’t prompt for which subscription to deploy to (if you have multiple subscriptions like I do). The deployment did go to the subscription I wanted, however, it would be really nice to have that as a selection to make sure it’s not just luck.

We aren’t prompted to select scale levels during deployment. From what I can tell, it chooses the lowest possible scale (I noted that the SQL Data Warehouse was provisioned with 100 DWUs, and the SQLDB had 5 DTUs).

To minimize cost, don’t forget to pause what you can (such as the SQL Data Warehouse) when you’re not using it. The HDInsight piece of this will be the most expensive, and it cannot be paused, so you might want to learn & experiment with that first then de-provision HDInsight in order to save on cost. If you’re done with the whole solution, you can just delete the resource group (in which case all resources within it will be deleted permanently).

Referring to Documentation for Deployed Solutions

You can find each of your deployed solutions here:

From this view, you can refer back to the documentation for a solution deployment (which is the same info presented in Step 4 when it was finished provisioning).

You can also ‘Clean up Deployments’ which is a nice feature. The clean up operation first deletes each individual resource, then it deletes the resource group:

 Deploying Solutions from the Cortana Intelligence Gallery

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Zanax music.

Never heard of the artist but I like the song.

Checked out some of her other stuff….hundreds of millions of views! Sheesh!!

Drugs and music. Music and drugs. Sometimes, they go together. At least, in the popular imagination. If jazz was haunted by heroin, and rock bloomed on acid, and disco darlings preened on cocaine, and ravers got touchy-feely on ecstasy, Lana Del Rey’s recent single, “Love,” sounds like two milligrams of Xanax crushed into dust and set adrift on the Pacific breeze in your mind. “Don’t worry, baby,” she sings repeatedly during the ballad’s gentle send-off, her voice plunging low, enunciation going slack. It’s the kind of song that quietly levitates you out of your life, then disappears.

Listening to “Love” on Xanax might feel redundant, but in today’s freaked-out America — where relief-seekers are swallowing opioids and benzodiazepines in record numbers — the connection between our sounds and our substances feels pervasive. When everyone seems to be on drugs, everyone’s music sounds more and more like pill-pop.

One could argue that drugs and pop have always worked more in parallel than in tandem — both attempt to relieve the symptoms of the era. But much of today’s pop music explicitly asks to be heard in a pharmacological context. Brand names keep popping up in our singalongs, particularly in rap music, where Xanax, Percocet and other pharmaceuticals have long been praised for their abilities to numb the agony of existence.

The whole of 21st-century pill-pop has a sound, too. It’s a smoothness, a softness, a steadiness. An aversion to unanticipated left turns. It isn’t new, but it’s increasingly everywhere. You can hear it in the Weeknd’s demulcent falsetto, in Rihanna’s unruffled cool, in Drake’s creamier verses, even in Justin Bieber’s buffed edges. Out on the dance floor, it’s most evident in the cushiony pulse of tropical house, a softer style that Kygo and other big-time producers have used to mitigate the intensity at various EDM festivals in recent years.

In a way, modern music has always been pill music. Drugs and pop were both permanently stitched into America’s cultural fabric shortly after World War II, back when a menu of new psychotropics was being sent to market around the same time rock-and-roll was being born. Both have provided comfort ever since — a parallel that surely isn’t lost on Del Rey, whose inconspicuous lullabies frequently conjure the blurry romance of yesteryear’s American Dream.

In rap music, whose artists are more concerned with owning the future, some have aimed to re-create the effects of contemporary psychotropia while others have struggled to quit cold turkey. On his Grammy Award-winning 2016 album, “Coloring Book,” Chance the Rapper kicked his Xanax habit in rhyme: “Last year, got addicted to Xans/Started forgetting my name and started missing my chance.” On a track from 2014, Schoolboy Q recounted his trials with an entire cabinet of prescription drugs: “Percocets, Adderall, Xanny bars, get codeine involved/Stuck in this body high, can’t shake it off.” Last year, Isaiah Rashad rapped with disdain about the Xanax addiction that nearly cost him his career: “Pop a Xan, baby. . . . Only pop it ’cause you heard it in a song.”

VentureBeat is hiring an AI reporter

 VentureBeat is hiring an AI reporter

We’re looking for an experienced reporter to help lead our coverage of artificial intelligence.

As startups and big corporations invest money and talent into AI, VentureBeat aims to cover both the broad ways AI will change life as we know it and the technical infrastructure underpinning it.

As VentureBeat’s AI reporter, you’ll help define our daily coverage of AI and cloud technology — from incremental developments to breakthroughs that may one day beat the Turing Test, cross the Uncanny Valley, and make self-driving cars possible. We also appreciate an appropriately jaundiced view of the many consumer apps already powered by AI. You’ll be responsible for covering breaking news on this topic in a fast-paced newsroom, developing and maintaining key industry contacts, and turning those connections into scoops.

Please be available to work from our San Francisco headquarters. This is a full-time, salaried position with health benefits and a flexible time-off policy. Candidates should have at least two years journalistic experience writing on a deadline in a fast-paced online newsroom.

Finally, it would be great if you love to read VentureBeat. Seriously, though, you should already read VentureBeat!

Please send a resume (or LinkedIn page) and cover letter containing three links to your best stories to Questions? Please get in touch (with “AI reporter” in the subject line).

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Big Data – VentureBeat

Generating HTML from SQL Server Queries

You can produce HTML from SQL because SQL Server has built-in support for outputting XML, and HTML is best understood as a slightly odd dialect of XML that imparts meaning to predefined tags. There are plenty of edge cases where an HTML structure is the most obvious way of communicating tables, lists and directories. Where data is hierarchical, it can make even more sense. William Brewer gives a simple introduction to a few HTML-output techniques.

Can you produce HTML from SQL? Yes, very easily. Would you ever want to? I certainly have had to. The principle is very simple. HTML is really just a slightly odd dialect of XML that imparts meaning to predefined tags. SQL Server has built-in ways of outputting a wide variety of XML. Although I’ve had in the past to output entire websites from SQL, the most natural thing is to produce HTML structures such as tables, lists and directories.

HTML5 can generally be worked on in SQL as if it were an XML fragment. XML, of course, has no predefined tags and is extensible, whereas HTML is designed to facilitate the rendering and display of data. By custom, it has become more forgiving than XML, but in general, HTML5 is based on XML.

Generating Tables from SQL expressions.

In HTML5, tables are best done simply, but using the child elements and structures so that the web designer has full control over the appearance of the table. CSS3 allows you to specify sets of cells within a list of child elements. Individual TD tags, for example, within a table row (TR) can delimit table cells that can have individual styling, but the rendering of the table structure is quite separate from the data itself.

The table starts with an optional caption element, followed by zero or more colgroup elements, followed optionally by a thead element. This header is then followed optionally by a tfoot element, followed by either zero or more tbody elements or one or more tr elements, followed optionally by a tfoot element, but there can be only one tfoot element.

The HTML5 ‘template’ for tables

In SQL Server, one can create the XML for a table like this with this type of query which is in the form of a template with dummy data.

Which produces (after formatting it nicely) this

So, going to AdventureWorks, we can now produce a table that reports on the number of sales for each city, for the top thirty cities.

I’ve left out the tfoot row because I didn’t need that. Likewise colgroup. I use tfoots mostly for aggregate lines, but you are limited to one only at the end, so it is not ideal for anything other than a simple ‘bottom line’.

When this is placed within and html file, with suitable CSS, it can look something like this

word image 28 Generating HTML from SQL Server Queries

Generating directory lists from SQL expressions.

The HTML is for rendering name-value groups such as dictionaries, indexes, definitions, questions and answers and lexicons. The name-value group consists of one or more names (dt elements) followed by one or more values (dd elements). Within a single dl element, there should not be more than one dt element for each name.

We’ll take as an example an excerpt from the excellent SQL Server glossary

This produces a directory list which can be rendered as you wish

word image 29 Generating HTML from SQL Server Queries

Generating hierarchical lists from SQL expressions.

HTML Lists represent probably the most useful way of passing simple hierarchical data to an application. You can actually use directories (DLs) to do this for lists name-value pairs and even tables for more complex data. Here is a simple example of a hierarchical list, generated from AdventureWorks. You’d want to use a recursive CTE for anything more complicated.


word image 30 Generating HTML from SQL Server Queries


There are quite a few structures now in HTML5. Even the body tag has subordinate header, nav, section, article, aside, footer, details and summary tags. If you read the W3C Recommendation it bristles with good suggestions for using markup to create structures. The pre tag can use child code, samp and kbd tags to create intelligent formatting. Data in SQL Server can easily generate this sort of structured HTML5 markup. This has obvious uses in indexes, chaptering, glossaries as well as the obvious generation of table-based reports. There is quite a lot of mileage in creating HTML from SQL Server queries

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