Tag Archives: Business

World Series Champion Lou Piniella Reveals 3 Similarities in Baseball & Business

Posted by Evan Heby, Service Industry Marketing Manager

World Series Champion Lou Piniella is no stranger to big league wins.

Pinella World Series Champion Lou Piniella Reveals 3 Similarities in Baseball & BusinessFrom playing baseball to coaching to broadcasting, the star has 46 years of Major League Baseball experience under his belt. Fans know him as “Sweet Lou,” the nickname he earned from his smooth, sweet swing during his playing days.

His wealth of experience has given him perspective on the correlation between business and sports, which he recently talked about at NetSuite’s Grow Live event in Seattle.

“You got to have talent, leadership, you got to have discipline, you have to be very competitive and then you got to be smart,” Piniella said. “Those are the same things we look for in sports and that’s what we were talking about here in the business world.”

To give you a full picture of our time with Piniella in Seattle, we’ve recapped his discussion on three shared pillars of sports and business.


Piniella credited much of his success as a manager to the talented players he coached – Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez and Ichiro Suzuki – to name a few. Jeanne Urich, Managing Partner of SPI Research, a research firm focused on the services industry, also joined us in Seattle to talk about growing in the new services economy. Urich spoke about the importance of hiring the best talent and strategies to retain them over the long haul.


Throughout Piniella’s career, there’s one quote by Ronald Reagan he took to heart: “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people do the greatest things.”

In everything he managed, he brought along several of his own guys to coach pitching because of how important it was to him to have team members he could trust. Piniella’s management strategy was to let each individual pod run itself.

Expanding on Piniella’s point, Urich discussed the importance of a strong team foundation. She explained how her research shows that top companies almost always have a core group of tenured employees as the foundation of their business.


During his time as a player and manager, Piniella won three World Championships. For him, winning consistently is the hardest thing to do and losing is the easiest. In business, that’s true as well. Your business will not always win; your company will go through ups and downs, but in general, successful businesses will win more than they lose.

That’s the same with a ball club. The best ball clubs will inevitably lose, but the difference between the top tier businesses and the top tier ball clubs is that losing consistently is not an option.

During the event, Piniella shared a few of his favorite baseball moments with us, including his favorite ejection (long story) and favorite (Boston) and least favorite (Tampa Bay) places to play. Piniella also shared a few of his personal favorites away from the field – he is more of a Beatles fan than a Rolling Stones one, he prefers Cabernet’s from California over beer and chooses hamburgers over hotdogs any day of the week.

Interested in learning more about how to grow your business? Check out our upcoming Grow Live Series, which could be coming to a city near you!

Posted on Wed, March 21, 2018
by NetSuite filed under

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Don’t believe the hype about AI in business

 Don’t believe the hype about AI in business

To borrow a punch line from Duke professor Dan Ariely, artificial intelligence is like teenage sex: “Everyone talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it.” Even though AI systems can now learn a game and beat champions within hours, they are hard to apply to business applications.

M.I.T. Sloan Management Review and Boston Consulting Group surveyed 3,000 business executives and found that while 85 percent of them believed AI would provide their companies with a competitive advantage, only one in 20 had “extensively” incorporated it into their offerings or processes. The challenge is that implementing AI isn’t as easy as installing software. It requires expertise, vision, and information that isn’t easily accessible.

When you look at well known applications of AI like Google’s AlphaGo Zero, you get the impression it’s like magic: AI learned the world’s most difficult board game in just three days and beat champions. Meanwhile, Nvidia’s AI can generate photorealistic images of people who look like celebrities just by looking at pictures of real ones.

AlphaGo and Nvidia used a technology called generative adversarial networks, which pits two AI systems against each another to allow them to learn from each other. The trick was that before the networks battled each other, they received a lot of coaching. And, more importantly, their problems and outcomes were well defined.

Most business problems can’t be turned into a game, however; you have more than two players and no clear rules. The outcomes of business decisions are rarely a clear win or loss, and there are far too many variables. So it’s a lot more difficult for businesses to implement AI than it seems.

Today’s AI systems do their best to emulate the functioning of the human brain’s neural networks, but they do this in a very limited way.  They use a technique called deep learning, which adjusts the relationships of computer instructions designed to behave like neurons. To put it simply, you tell an AI exactly what you want it to learn and provide it with clearly labelled examples, and it analyzes the patterns in those data and stores them for future application. The accuracy of its patterns depends on data, so the more examples you give it, the more useful it becomes.

Herein lies a problem: An AI is only as good as the data it receives. And it is able to interpret that data only within the narrow confines of the supplied context. It doesn’t “understand” what it has analyzed, so it is unable to apply its analysis to scenarios in other contexts. And it can’t distinguish causation from correlation. AI is more like an Excel spreadsheet on steroids than a thinker.

The bigger difficulty in working with this form of AI is that what it has learned remains a mystery — a set of indefinable responses to data.  Once a neural network is trained, not even its designer knows exactly how it is doing what it does. As New York University professor Gary Marcus explains, deep learning systems have millions or even billions of parameters, identifiable to their developers only in terms of their geography within a complex neural network. They are a “black box,” researchers say.

Speaking about the new developments in AlphaGo, Google/DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis reportedly said, “It doesn’t play like a human, and it doesn’t play like a program. It plays in a third, almost alien, way.”

Businesses can’t afford to have their systems making alien decisions. They face regulatory requirements and reputational concerns and must be able to understand, explain, and demonstrate the logic behind every decision they make.

For AI to be more valuable, it needs to be able to look at the big picture and include many more sources of information than the computer systems it is replacing. Amazon is one of the few companies that has already understood and implemented AI effectively to optimize practically every part of its operations from inventory management and warehouse operation to running data centers.

In inventory management, for example, purchasing decisions are traditionally made by experienced individuals, called buyers, department by department. Their systems show them inventory levels by store, and they use their experience and instincts to place orders. Amazon’s AI consolidates data from all departments to see the larger trends — and relate them to socioeconomic data, customer-service inquiries, satellite images of competitors’ parking lots, predictions from The Weather Company, and other factors. Other retailers are doing some of these things, but none as effectively as Amazon.

This type of approach is also the basis of Echo and Alexa, Amazon’s voice-based home appliances. According to Wired, by bringing all of its development teams together and making machine learning a corporate focus, Amazon is solving a problem many companies have: disconnected islands of data. Corporate data are usually stored in disjointed datasets in different computer systems. Even when a company has all the data needed for machine learning, they usually aren’t labelled, up-to-date, or organized in a usable manner. The challenge is to create a grand vision for how to put these datasets together and use them in new ways, as Amazon has done.

AI is advancing rapidly and will surely make it easier to clean up and integrate data. But business leaders will still need to understand what it really does and create a vision for its use. That is when they will see the big benefits.

Vivek Wadhwa is Distinguished Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University Engineering at Silicon Valley and author of The Driver in the Driverless Car: How Our Technology Choices Will Create the Future.

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Big Data – VentureBeat

Save the Children UK Improves Business and IT Collaboration with Data Virtualization

savethechildrenlogo 580x358 Save the Children UK Improves Business and IT Collaboration with Data Virtualization

In the UK and around the world, Save the Children’s mission is to do whatever it takes to transform children’s lives and the future we share. However, a myriad of internal and external data sources, and the need to respond rapidly to world events, made it hard to integrate and access data and provide insights.

The organization faced many of the same issues other dynamic organizations encounter: multiple versions of the data, no shared metadata specification or real-time information, a lack of governance and agility in responding to business needs, and an inability to extract value from new, ever-evolving unstructured data sources.

Learn how Save the Children used TIBCO Data Virtualization to improve data delivery, efficiency, and costs—and about some of the methods it used to improve data accuracy and apply business intelligence and data analytics as a standard activity, rather than a development project.

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Week of 3/13 two great webinars: Storytelling with your data by Tristan Malherbe and Driving business intelligence with the Visio custom visual for Power B

social default image Week of 3/13 two great webinars: Storytelling with your data by Tristan Malherbe and Driving business intelligence with the Visio custom visual for Power B

This week we have two great webinars for you! 

1.  3/13 Webinar: Storytelling with your data and Power BI by Tristan Malherbe

2.  3/15/2018: Drive collaboration and business intelligence using Visio custom Visual for Power BI 

In this session, Tristan Malherbe (Microsoft Data Platform MVP) will show you how you can tell a story with your data using Power BI.

He will showcase all the latest features of Power BI Desktop in action (Bookmarks, Q&A, Explain the Increase, DrillThrough, Page Report Tooltips) on dashboards he published on the Data Stories Gallery (2016 US Elections Analysis, The French 5th Republic, Lionel Messi Statistics).    Tristan Malherbe, a Power Microsoft MVP, a renowned Business Intelligence  Consultant at AZEO and President of the Power BI User Group in France.  As a PUG leader for Power BI in France, Tristan’s passion for the product comes from his interest in solving problems and creating user-friendly applications to support decision making, to analyse or visualise data.

When 3/13/2018 10AM PST

Where:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egk0suekwHo


Drive collaboration and business intelligence using Visio Visual for Power BI 3/15/2018

This session will focus on how by using Visio and Power BI together, you can illustrate and compare data as both diagrams and traditional Power BI visualizations in one place, and hence drive operational and business intelligence to understand the overall picture.

Presented by the Visio team including Shakun Grover

When: 3/15/2018 10AM PST

Where: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lnuYjgLzxc


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Microsoft Power BI Blog | Microsoft Power BI

Successfully Crossing the Chasm; or Why Your B2B Business is Failing

2017 AO RethinkMktgPodcast Featured Eckhardt Successfully Crossing the Chasm; or Why Your B2B Business is Failing

This transcript has been edited for length. To get the full measure, listen to the podcast.

Nathan Isaacs: Michael, can you tell us more about yourself and the Chasm Institute?

Michael Eckhardt: I’ve been the managing director at Chasm Institute now for the last 12 years. My co-managing director, Mark Cavender and I have worked with over 500 tech companies during the time that our Chasm work has been done.

And we really just do one thing, we focus on helping smart teams and companies with either software, hardware, AI, big data solutions, to really get to the main marketplace in a more efficient and more effective way than the normal thrashing about that new ventures have to go through, whether in big companies or within startups.

Staying Power of Crossing the Chasm

Nathan: The Chasm Institute was born from Jeffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm book that was published originally in 1991, and the third edition was published a few years ago in 2014. Why do you think the book has had such staying power over the last few decades?

Michael: Jeffrey Moore is still chairman of Chasm Institute. We’re always thrilled that he’s a major part of it. Yeah, the book was first published back in 1991. That’s a long time ago in tech years, if you think of it in dog years, or cat years, or tech years. It’s over 25 years ago.

The reason for the staying power, or we’ll call it the stickiness, was it was really the first book out back in the ’90s that took one specific problem, which is how do you take what we’ll call disruptive innovation, software, hardware services, and get those across the – some people call it the valley of death or the chasm – we call it the chasm, from really the early adopters which is the easy part, to the mainstream market where about 88 to 90 percent of most customers live in the B2B space.

What the book has done is put together a tool set and a set of frameworks that new ventures or corporate ventures could actually apply and do that with. And the reality is, whether a new venture or an existing one inside of large companies, the issues turn out not to be just about the product, it’s actually about several points of failure we see.

Nathan: You mentioned earlier you’ve consulted more than 500 companies, ranging from Intel, and Cisco, Google, Spotify, and more, and you’ve identified best practices for success such as focusing on one target market at a time, kind of sort of the framework of the book itself. But you’ve also identified what you call the seven deadly sins companies should avoid. What is the first deadly sin?

Michael: It’s kind of an encapsulation of really seven specific worst practices or mistakes that even good companies fall into. And clearly companies don’t do all seven.

As a preamble to the seven deadly sins, the real premise is that most new companies that are ventures or most new initiatives inside of large corporations, have the same illness or the same disease, which is they think, ‘My gosh, this product, whether it’s an AI product, or a big data product, or a SaaS product, who wouldn’t want this.’

And the disease of spray and pray occurs. Spray and pray is launching horizontally and then praying and hoping that somewhere somehow 20 percent of the market buys what we have. And what we’ve done is turn that on its head and say the chasm principles are to get across to really hit a beachhead, a specific segment application area where you’re solving a real tangible, excruciating problem for a target customer in a B2B vertical, or it could be a department, or it could be a geography.

The seven sins are:

  1. Target customer mix-up
  2. Compelling reason confusion
  3. Whole product perfectionism
  4. Over hiring for sales, or overdoing sales training, when in fact your product’s not ready for a mainstream broad transactional sales process that really needs to have a specialized group of people selling
  5. Pricing missteps
  6. Weak messaging
  7. Vision vs. Strategy: Just because you have a vision of the next two to five years of what you want to accomplish, doesn’t also mean you have a strategy

Sin #1: The Target Customer Mix-Up

Nathan: What does target customer mix-up mean?

Michael: If you think graphically or in a way of an image, the left hand side of the adoption curve, which is where the early adopters live, which we estimate is about 8 to 12 percent of the market, these are people that are willing to risk, buy early, be pioneers, don’t require references, might not even require an ROI calculation, they just believe that this new solution from Salesforce, and marketing cloud, or service cloud, or something along the lines of a new AI solution or big data solution, that that’s inherently something they want to adopt in their organization.

Those are the early adopters. We like to think that those are the easy ones to go after, although nothing’s easy in this world, of course. But the danger is this, if you’re in the early market, and you successfully sold to 50 or 100 or a few thousand early market customers, but they don’t really represent the normal mainstream, the other 88 to 90 percent of the market to the right of the chasm. And the problem is if you have that installed base of early adopters, the tendency is to over-listen to them, that is seek out too much of what do you think the new feature should be, how do we streamline this product, how do we add more into it that makes it even more compelling for you.

It turns out we’re asking the wrong people. Because those people that have bought already, those 8 to 10 to 12 percent who represent the early visionaries and early adopters, they do not represent the whole product requirements of the main marketplace. We’ve seen companies make billion-dollar errors by listening too intently to the early market customers, when in fact at that juncture that they’re at, they need to cross the chasm into the main marketplace.

The correct answer here is not to continually survey your install base. It’s all well and good to understand them. But to figure out how people have decided not to buy your product yet and not been implementing it. And, as a result, what do we need to do from a vendor standpoint to complete the whole product, whether it’s on migration path, key services, key feature sets, or maybe even removing features and simplifying things more, which is often an antidote that the early market’s not looking for. What we’re saying here is you can make mistakes by focusing only on the customers you already sold to, when, in fact, you need to be looking at the ones that have not bought. That’s target customer mix-up.

Nathan: The ones that have not bought, are those the early majority then?

Michael: It would be the early majority thinking about the concept overall of fundamentally allowing yourself to think that what’s good for the early adopter is good for the early majority, the pragmatic customer, and what we call the bowling alley, to use our jargon. And it turns out that fundamentally, and this is not well-understood even by some smart tech companies, that the criteria and the way you go to market in the early market, is almost 180 degrees opposite of how you went in the main marketplace.

I’ll give you two examples. In the early market you can sell successfully without having a list of 10 references of other companies in your industry as a customer who have already bought. In fact, if you go to a true early adopter in the early market and say here’s 10 other companies in financial services who have already bought this cloud solution, the real reaction from a visionary is, ‘Oh my gosh, I must be late, this is not breakthrough, this is just an add on for later if already other 10 companies have done this.’ The irony is the early market you might get the reinforced notion that references aren’t important and you’d be right. But in the early majority, the pragmatists, without a reference list, you’re dead, you’re a dead man walking.

Another example would be in the early market, that if the customer asked who else has a solution like this solution for big data and analytics in the marketplace for hospital and medical facilities. And in the early market, an answer of we’re the only ones doing this, is actually a very favorable answer to the early market. If you go to the pragmatists across the chasm and they ask who else has this solution besides you, and you say we’re the only ones on planet earth with this solution, the pragmatists say sorry, if you’re the only one going down this path, then we might be going over a cliff. Aren’t there other smart companies who would also think of the same idea? And if they’re not, we’re not sure your idea has been vetted properly.

So those are the examples of how different and dramatically different early market buyer behavior is in a B2B space versus the pragmatists in what we call the bowling alley.

Sin #2: Compelling Reason Confusion

Nathan: When we get into the second deadly sin, compelling reason confusion, what are we getting at there? What do you mean?

Michael: What we say is if you want to cross this chasm and get into the beachhead, the beachhead is the first segment, a vertical, or an application, or a specific geography and customer type, could even be a job title. If you need and want to focus on that specifically, then there must be a compelling reason to buy. And by that we mean not just for the product, but for the category, for this new SaaS type solution, or this hybrid cloud, or this big data, or analytics. There must be a real pain point inside, not your mind as the vendor, but in the customer’s mind in that beachhead segment.

And compelling reason to buy is do they understand they have a problem. We’ve seen many companies and many people running product lines who say, ‘Well, the customer doesn’t really understand their problem, but we can go out and educate them on that problem.’

Our short answer is, don’t do that, go find a different segment. If they don’t understand they have a problem, then you’re going to be having a long sales cycle of frustrating timing. Compelling reason confusion is most vendors have lots of reasons for why they want to sell the product and why you should buy. We call that compelling reason to sell. That’s the opposite of being customer centric.

We need to focus on the compelling reason why the customer wants to buy the category and the solution. And that’s very different than what’s often on our website as a vendor or in our sales pitches and so forth.

So, to bring this home, if we believe what this can be is the speed of processing for large transactions in a financial services company can be reduced by 15 percent with this new solution, but the reality is that’s your compelling reason to sell. But the real issue for the customer in the financial institution whether Citibank, or Wells Fargo or Bank of America, is not about processing volume, but perhaps accuracy of processing and lack of error rates being minimal, then that’s the compelling reason to buy, not what you think the product can deliver. It’s often a dichotomy between what we think we’re selling and what the customer actually thinks they’re buying. And the one who’s right, sorry to say or happy to say, is the customer and not our view of what the product can do.

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Yes, Microsoft is doubling down on business applications

As you know, I (and others of my ilk) had a rocky 2017 when it came to Microsoft Business Applications. I couldn’t get a handle on how to think about it because they hadn’t been very forthcoming to me (or those others of my ilk) about what they were doing with their business applications practice.

Last November, I decided to to stop coverage of Microsoft until I had enough information to do more than speculate — unlike those investing in cryptocurrency. That said, I am happy to report, the speculation is ended. Not only do I have what I need to give you what I hope is what you feel is a well-considered opinion, but at the same time, I know is enough information to do what all of us New Yorkers do at a DNA level — pass judgment and opine whether you want to hear it or not.

In that post I wrote:

“…. but until I hear or see otherwise, this is and will be my working hypothesis. Business applications for Microsoft are seemingly being reduced to a peripheral piece of their business despite their protestations — and whether they intend that to be the case or not. I hope that I’m wrong.”

Readers, I am happy to say that I was wrong. Not only do I think they are fully cognizant of the importance of their business applications for the true execution of their vision, but in fact, they are doubling down to effect the growth of the business applications division of the company — and to tie it into the overall vision that Satya Nadella has been evangelizing for his entire tenure.

Also:Why does Microsoft exist? How CEO Satya Nadella answered the tech giant’s existential question

To be entirely clear, what I define as Microsoft’s vision which I think Microsoft would have no complaints about is:

Microsoft wants to be the mission critical infrastructure for all 21st century business. That includes from hardware to software to services and it includes the cloud and the apps and micro-services. Among other things.

More in the future on this.

Interestingly, I think they are one of the few companies on the planet that can make this claim and possibly legitimately achieve it. Though I don’t think it would be easy nor do I think that they are, as constituted now, prepared to do so. But they have the opportunity. And I don’t know a whole lot of other companies who can holistically make that claim.

What makes me say this? Why go from despair and edgy to sunny optimism?

I got back a couple of weeks ago from two days at a Microsoft Business Applications Analyst Forum — the first one in four years. It was not only a valuable information gathering exercise but a truly well-run event, that pushed the right buttons, tripped the right switches, clicked the right… whatever someone clicks — depending on which cliché you are most comfortable using.

I came out, as I think did most analysts, with the content I needed to really help me figure out what role Microsoft Business Apps plays in the Microsoft visionary scheme of things and also had a few surprises along the way. (For proof that I’m not the only one waxing enthusiastic here, read my bud and esteemed analyst Vinnie Mirchandani’s event focused post.)

Also:Microsoft could opt to release a free version of Teams after all | Microsoft, Xiaomi sign collaboration pact for AI, cloud computing services | Microsoft readies Python, Java support for its bot-building framework | Microsoft touts HoloLens rentals, business uses for mixed reality | TechRepublic:Comparing office suites: What features are vital to your workflow?

Were there things they could have done better with? Sure. They omitted any discussion of the work they do that falls under “corporate social responsibility.” I happen to know via other avenues that Microsoft does a significant amount of Good Works. They didn’t bring that up. Since they didn’t, let me give you a taste of just a couple of the things they did (sourced from Satya Nadella’s letter in the 2017 Annual Report)

“We’re partnering with telecommunications companies through our Rural Airband Initiative to bring broadband connectivity to 2 million people in rural America by 2022, hoping to serve as a catalyst to help eliminate the rural broadband gap for the 23.4 million Americans living in rural communities who lack access to the economic, educational, and health opportunities the internet provides.”

“In January 2016 we announced that Microsoft would donate more than $ 1 billion in cloud technology to non-profits and university researchers. We’ve achieved that goal a year early, donating cloud services to more than 90,000 non-profits, and we aren’t stopping there. We announced a plan to more than triple the number of non-profits we’ll reach to 300,000 over the next three years.”

Great stuff.

But, to be my buzz killing self, while I am totally satisfied as to the depth, scope, and fervor of Microsoft’s commitment to their business applications and on the balance highly positive, I have some concerns — one or two that are at least potentially dangerous to Microsoft’s plans if they don’t work them through.

So, let’s start with:

what’s hot on zdnet

The Business Apps Analyst Forum

The event was two days crammed with many of the Business Applications executive team e.g. James Philips and Alysa Taylor, Hayden Stafford, Param Kahlon, Kishan Chetan and Jeff York, among many others giving us loads of information on everything from the status (with demos) of the current specific products ranging from the sales, customer service, field service, talent, and new marketing applications to discussions about their pricing, the changes in their partner model, and the overall status of Business Applications within the confines of the greater Microsoft vision and strategy (I think they did the latter. That may be a bit of wishful thinking, though. Minimally, they provided the pieces and I mentally glued them together).

They held a lively customer panel with two of their customer companies — two who in fact, couldn’t be more disparate — which of course goes to Dynamics product versatility, which I presume was one of the points. They brought in Chip Suttles who is the VP of IT for the Seattle Seahawks (sports is an industry that Microsoft Dynamics CRM dominates) and a trio of customers from MacDonald-Miller, a company that does mechanical contracting and facilities management.

I’m not going to dwell on the details of the event, since I reserve detailed event discussions for my user conference focused Event Scorecard which will be back this year (starting with Infor’s Innovation Summit on March 19).

But what I will say is that Clare Henry who has overall responsibility as the GM of analyst relations at Microsoft, Fred Pullen, Umran Hassan, and The WE team (Waggoner Edstrom team) did a terrific job of managing the event, keeping the discussions lively, handling the analyst/whoever-was-on-stage interactions really well and managing time without getting anyone even vaguely upset, much less angry — and minus a couple of things, (see above on the CSR omission) managed to provide the right content in the right mix to satisfy the usually insatiable hunger of a group of analysts who had disparate coverage areas.

Plus making sure that there were one on one meetings with executives and the analysts had a good time. A serious kudos and thank you to them for the quality and obvious effort that went into this.

But, sayeth I, that is not all.

Positioning and messaging

For a few years now, Microsoft has been ahead of the pack — one of the first in fact — in their messaging around customer engagement. They no longer call their Sales, Service, Marketing pillars CRM per se but instead complete the offering with the social integrations, analytics, mobile apps etc and call the whole thing Intelligent Customer Engagement. (ICE).

I’ve always applauded their getting ahead of the market — they and SAP were the first two to broaden beyond CRM with their messaging — and they managed to avoid the stupid “CRM is dead” declaration that many companies go with.

Instead they wisely — intelligently in fact — broadened their messaging and positioning to something that was more strategic and encompassing and despite some thinness here and there positioned their applications where they needed to be positioned.

When we got to the analyst forum, a new message was coincident with intelligent customer engagement. In other words, didn’t replace it, but sat along side it or encompassed it. The theme was “digital feedback loop,” which looks something like this.

dfl microsoft Yes, Microsoft is doubling down on business applications

The Digital Feedback Loop

Courtesy of Microsoft

What of course makes it work is the front office, back office, underlying platform nature of Microsoft’s Dynamics offerings in combination with PowerBI etc. So it kind of works though I have to say, I’m not as enamored of it as I am of ICE — but then I would be more excited about ICE, given my area of coverage wouldn’t I?

The products/platform

I’m not going to dwell on the details here because I don’t need to. I’m going to point out what I found either interesting, surprising and outstanding.

Sales and Service: Mature, Solid, Trustworthy… Except for Sales Navigator

First, a brief comment on sales and service, two of the three pillar applications/solutions of CRM. Microsoft, under now Param Kahlon’s engineering leadership. They are solid. They have what they need to keep a contemporary CRM sales and customer service organization functioning operationally, have communications tools built in and have the services that have to be there to make sure that the solutions continue to evolve with the company that acquired them. Period.

They are reasonably priced. The integration with Parature at the core of service seems to be completed and is now scalable which is honestly a big deal since Parature appealed to the lower end up to the middle of the midmarket and didn’t scale on its own. Microsoft has taken care of scalability. Plus, despite all the pricing entanglement, they are reasonably priced and more than competitively so.

This is one of those instances where the good speaks for itself really. I’m just letting you know. Solid. Mature. Already battling in the marketplace. Is it perfect? No. Nothing is. But that’s not what this post is about. You want a product analysis? Talk to me offline.

However, there is one thing that no matter how hard I try, I don’t understand. Microsoft has a highly competent valuable Sales Force Automation application. No question. Yet, they spend an inordinate amount of time on talking up and selling Sales Navigator, which I have considered to be a TERRIBLE application since it was first developed and was the cause of one of the worst things that the then independent LinkedIn did — closing the API which had been “almost” open up until that time.

Yet Microsoft with the most amazing asset LinkedIn persists in selling that ridiculous tool. The only value Sales Navigator has is as a faux middleware to get access to the LinkedIn data. It is nowhere nearly as good as Microsoft’s native tool. Yet their offering is actually bundle selling Microsoft Sales 365 and Sales Navigator together, which unless Sales Navigator is the only access point to the LinkedIn data, makes no sense at all. Why sell two competing tools?

If Sales Navigator is only really there for access to LinkedIn data build the necessary connectors and other pieces and sell the connection. Sunset Sales Navigator as a sales tool. Microsoft’s native sales offering competes well with anything on the market. No reason to create market confusion with something that doesn’t hold a candle to it.


Kishan Chetan unveiled a new marketing automation application that, if I were assessing the target market from its current state of readiness — meaning its still early in inception though not in conception as I found out, its upper end small business and lower end midmarket. That isn’t the endgame, but what I think at this point the functionality and feature set can service most likely.

I have to admit I was somewhat surprised by the existence of this — though not surprised that Microsoft wanted to do something about the hole they had had in marketing at all but the enterprise B2C space (more on that in a second). What I was THRILLED to find out is that Marketing Pilot had been sunset and that Kishan, who is a super talented leader and engineer and his team were building something from scratch.

What made it more interesting is that Microsoft has invested an enormous amount of time, money, effort, and public relations into what is arguably their deepest partnership, certainly the most interlocked I have ever seen — their relationship with Adobe and their positioning of the Adobe Digital Marketing Suite as the cloud (Azure of course) based enterprise especially B2C marketing automation offering.

The sales teams are educated in how to sell it and told what their spiffs are, the architecture is intertwined at (at least metaphorically) the level of an object. Adobe made sure that Dave Welch who is in charge of the Microsoft relationship at Adobe attended not just the Business Forward Event in Chicago but the analyst forum I’m talking about here and sent their topnotch AR person, Laura Irwin to the event too.

To add to that, if I’m right about the marketing solutions — meaning Dynamics Marketing 365 and Adobe, there are holes in the market that are usually filled by partners like Click Dimensions — e.g. the middle of the midmarket to the upper end of the midmarket (even the lower end of the enterprise).

So there are, in effect, three areas that need messaging support, clear positioning so they don’t step on each other’s feet, and also go to market kind of inter-organizational efforts. That way Microsoft can cover the gamut of the market when it comes to marketing automation and have a narrative that explains why there are three different “groupings” that are doing so.

Otherwise, despite the fact, this is an entirely workable possibility, it might and probably will create some market confusion. But its one of those nice to have problems — three more than capable marketing solutions that each cover a distinct piece of a market.

I probably shouldn’t have been surprised since last August, Microsoft actually announced all of this — sunsetting of Marketing Pilot, new marketing solution, and the elevation of the partnership here. I guess I missed that. My bad. But, regardless, all these surprises are good for Microsoft (and Adobe) over the long run, though will take some time to untangle when it comes to how multiple marketing solutions are presented to the market place.

PowerApps Citizen Development

For those of you who know me, you will know that not only am I one of the most insane Yankees fans you ever will meet, but I’m a strong proponent of ecosystems and platforms as the way that technology companies need to think, act, build, and focus if they are to be truly successful in the 21st century business environment.

With caveats, when it came to business applications Microsoft had for the most part (a bit on that shortly) had the ecosystems part down — meaning they looked to see what a customer needed from them end to end, understood what they could provide, what they could build and thus provide in the future and what they needed partners to provide since they didn’t have it to offer nor would they.

But I was always concerned about the platform side of the equation. I wasn’t that impressed with XRM which to me was more of a concept than it was a legitimate platform. Even with Azure as the backbone — which both greatly enhanced their existing platform and magnified the necessity for building it out even more — I wasn’t entirely sold.

But I had the opportunity to see the PowerApps platform/authoring tools and was actually blown away by what I saw. This was citizen coding. That means, as Charles Lamanna, Microsoft PowerApps GM showed us so effectively, that anyone including me could build applications that were accessing data sources from hundreds of options in a few minutes that were both usable on the desktop and even more importantly in multiple mobile environments.

I’m not going to get that descriptive. Once again Vinnie Mirchandani does an excellent job of doing that here on his always fascinating deal architect blog. His enthusiasm for what he saw echoes mine. Here’s my tweet:

“PG Note: Watching a demo of PowerApps — building an app from scratch. I have to say this is one of the most impressive demos I’ve seen in a long time. This tool is amazing. Easy to use, visually appealing, navigation/app creation nearly intuitive.”

I am very much convinced that this is the best toolset for creating applications on the fly since the days of the underestimated Lotus Notes and that this is what will put the business applications platform on the map for Microsoft so that Ecosystems and Platforms isn’t just marketing fluff but (with work yet to go) what they actually can provide to customers and potential customers. It is a hugely important piece placed in the puzzle.

Opening the Ecosystem, Closing the Gaps

A few months ago, I would not have said what I’m about to say. If I extrapolate from all that I’ve referenced in this post and other facets of what I saw and heard at the Analyst Forum when it comes from the “Greater Metropolitan Microsoft Ecosystem” (which includes Azure, Office 365 and even Windows, in addition to business apps), I would venture to say that Microsoft is putting together most of what it needs to successfully build on their vision.

What hasn’t been a question was Microsoft had transitioned to a cloud company. You could see that in the simplest way by watching the transition of their customer focused commercials from an emphasis on the business apps to an emphasis on the “Microsoft Cloud.” (see this Real Madrid commercial which is easily my favorite. I love the fan scenes in this).

Rock star analyst/influencer, Constellation Research CEO and great friend, Ray Wang says in his piece on the Analyst Forum, “In fact, Microsoft sees the business applications group as a critical pillar in helping organizations with their digital transformation efforts.”

Where no more than three months ago, I was questioning the commitment of Microsoft to its business applications practice, I would absolutely endorse what Ray says here. As far as I’m concerned Microsoft is doubling down on business applications because they recognize it as an essential piece to the successful execution of their vision to be the mission critical centerpiece for 21st century business infrastructure.

It probably pays to understand the biggest pieces of this game plan. Azure as the core cloud infrastructure both host and development platform for business is the wrapper for it all. While AWS may have greater revenue and will do so for a long time to come, when it comes to the enterprise Azure’s prospects are superior. According to literally every study I’ve ever seen on what IaaS platform is trusted most by the enterprise, Azure has been the winner.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t pretend to have seen every single one — I’ve probably seen about five or six all in all and there may be several out there that say AWS is the trusted one but I have yet to run across one that does and even if I did, the signal volume, the level of conversations and trust in Azure is great enough to generate the results that I have seen multiple times — and that tells you a lot about the level of trust in Azure.

The layer encircling Azure is Office 365, but the new completely rethought, reorganized and re-engineered Office 365, which has gone from a productivity suite to what is now a unified communications hub. Don’t get me wrong. It still does the productivity “things” that it always did — Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are tools of choice when it comes to creating documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

But the core of Office 365 is a combination of its productivity tools, the embedded communications tools like Skype etc. and the interconnections and integration of Dynamics 365 that was recently announced so that you have a uniquely connected technology matrix that uses Azure as its overarching and underlying infrastructure, Office 365 as its central communications station and business applications as the operational core — all in the service of achieving their vision.

That said, they are missing one major piece and they are missing the boat with another that keeps their vision from attainment sooner than later, to say it rather politely.

The missing piece? Ecommerce. The “missing the boat” piece — customer journey orchestration.


Let’s start with ecommerce. Before SAP acquired Hybris in 2013 (and, in 2016, Salesforce acquired Demandware), it was easy to make the “we don’t need ecommerce” competitive case since the only one of the Big 4 with ecommerce was Oracle who had acquired an on-premise (mostly) ATG back in 2010 and hadn’t really done much with it — at least done much that was apparent.

But things changed in the world and customer engagement starting in 2014 if I had to pick a time, became a C-suite discussion and created enough interest in the practitioner universe to start thousands of companies on the path to engagement strategies and programs which, they hoped would lead to overall fantastic customer experience — meaning that customers would feel great about the companies that they were engaging with due to the customers’ interactions being able to meet the demands of the customers be they utilitarian or something more — over time.

Ecommerce because customer interaction is the core of its transactional being, became essential to that formulation. All of this led a number of technology companies to both reposition, as Microsoft did, from CRM to customer engagement or Marketo from Revenue Performance Management to Engagement Marketing.

But one of the things about focusing around engagement as Microsoft does with their messaging for Dynamics as Intelligent Customer Engagement — your product/solution/services/platform have to reflect the messaging — meaning the component parts have to be there.

Thus, the repositioning post Hybris acquisition by SAP around customer engagement and commerce. There were some lame linear attempts by both SAP and Salesforce to try to position ecommerce as the “fourth pillar” of CRM but neither of them could really show that they had a single piece of thought leadership or collateral pre-ecommerce vendor acquisition that said that, so it died quickly when it was called out.

With the growth of customer engagement as a legitimate candidate for strategic consideration and efforts by companies of all sizes and sorts, CRM has a position — as the operational core of a customer engagement focused business. Ecommerce has a position — as the transactional core of a customer engagement focused business. Both necessary, but different. Not a CRM fourth pillar and no need other than self-serving to call it that.

The only player of the Big Four without it is Microsoft. For competitive purposes, it’s important that they consider how to remedy that.

The problem seemed to be that they lacked options that would compete with the enterprise grade players — all of whom were acquired. When analysts discussed who Microsoft could acquire (and believe me, we had this particular discussion — many that I know of having been part of them and I’m sure a myriad of others that I didn’t know), the names Shopify and Magento didn’t exactly thrill. Not that they are bad, but they don’t really scale at the level that Microsoft needs.

Without any endorsement whatsoever, I did find one that on the surface of it, makes some sense to me. That’s Episerver (aka Epi) — a Microsoft partner that is a huge Azure user and has a more than capable feature function list of ecommerce functions. It is also strongly vested in the Microsoft ecosystem, though not solely. It also scales to the upper end of the midmarket and the lower end of the enterprise (from what I was told by a person I completely trust at the company) which is good place to start to scale ecommerce.

That said, I don’t endorse it by any means at this juncture, because I haven’t seen the actual solution in production and don’t have much more than an initial handle on the company. While what I have learned is solid and trustworthy, it falls well short of my standard due diligence.

I’m bringing them up as an ecommerce option for Microsoft heretofore undiscovered by analysts like me. In that “me” I mean also anyone else I’ve had Microsoft ecommerce options discussions with, none of whom has ever mentioned them. At least they are worth investigating if not by me (though I will) then by Microsoft at a lot deeper a level than they have.

Customer Journey Orchestration

This may be ironic more than anything else. For the last three or four years, Microsoft has had a go to market relationship with Thunderhead, a company (to be forthcoming) that I have been an adviser to for even longer than that. In fact, I introduced them to Microsoft back when Bob Stutz and Jujhar Singh were doing their usual great work at Microsoft. The specialty of Thunderhead is customer journey orchestration.

Microsoft and Thunderhead closed several significant deals jointly and they were marquee deals — important enough for Microsoft to use them in the past as significant case studies — though (another thing that Microsoft needs to fix generally) without Thunderhead attribution. Park that thought for a minute.

If you are claiming Intelligent Customer Engagement (ICE, ICE baby) and on an even bigger scale, Digital Feedback Loop as the messaging and positioning of Business Applications, customer journey orchestration technology is ESSENTIAL for meeting the business requirements that are suggested by those two “phrases.” ESSENTIAL.

Customer engagement is DRIVEN by where you meet the customer and then your ability to not only identify the choices the customer is making at that location but your ability to give them the appropriate choices they need to make decisions on how they want to deal with your company.

Being able to track the customer’s journey in real time and seeing what they are doing at the level of one customer up to millions of customers (digital and physical feedback) and being able to then communicate the options that the business wants to provide based on their feedback (customer engagement) makes customer journey orchestration a must-have.

In the course of the analyst forum, Microsoft didn’t indicate that they were doing anything in that realm. They already have the agreement in place with Thunderhead. Like ecommerce, there is no need to build the solution. In this case, just take advantage of what has already been signed, sealed and delivered.

If not, then find a way to incorporate customer journey orchestration from somewhere into the offering. Its that important at this juncture. Five years ago, nice to have. This year and going forward for a while, need to have.

The Rest of the Mischegas

For those of you not familiar with Yiddish, mischegas means craziness. I use it sort of affectionately here to describe the hodgepodge remainder of things I want to cover quickly to get to a conclusion.

Briefly each:

Partners: I heard about the ISVs a LOT. While I applaud what James Phillips said about how they are educating partners: “We are trying to coach our partners to not sell in silos. Go from let us talk to you about our products to let us talk to you about those things that will help your business transform;” I didn’t hear anything about strategic ecosystem go to market partners (beyond Adobe of course) or the systems integrators.

It was heavily ISV focused to the point of obscuring all else. I did like that they have merged the horizontal and vertical partner organizations into a single organization. AND that they are doing some great work together with their ISVs. Their partner case studies were very good and proved that point. Plus, I acknowledge that there is only so much you can do in 20-30 minutes as part of two days.

That said, if ecosystems truly matter to Microsoft, they need to make that clear everywhere in everything they do — especially to analysts — which means cover the full gamut of partners and the strategy behind them.

Pricing: One thing I will say, the actual prices of Microsoft Business Applications are very competitive — in fact very good for what you get. However, too many options, bundles, mixes, mashups. Simplification would be good, because the prices themselves are all ready very good.

Finally: When I first left the analyst forum and headed home, I characterized it as a course correction — meaning Microsoft had publicly gotten itself back on the radar and more in the public eye of the analysts once again.

I’ve rethought that a bit. They’ve done a lot more than just course correct — though they did do that. Given how much I saw that they’ve managed to do over the last few months with the platform and the applications and the way that they’ve defined their approach, products, leadership team, messaging etc going forward, this is more than a course correction.

This reboot as they called it (Windows veterans one and all) is a leap forward that propels Microsoft back onto the stage. What they showed us at the analyst forum was a well thought out, scalable, somewhat integrated (marketing and a couple of other things not so much yet) set of applications for the front office, the back office, along with systems of record, engagement and “systems of intelligence” (I use the term under protest).

This was all in combination with their fantastic apps development platform which can handle deep customization needs and create highly flexible apps — and do it enjoyably and with some real ease and elegance. Additionally, Dynamics 365 is largely integrated now with Office 365, something needed for the achievement of the grander vision. And, finally they had a game plan and at least what I would call cohesive messaging for the apps.

But they still have things to do. If they:

1. Fill the two gaps within their business applications platforms and solutions, they will be incredibly well positioned to take the battle competitively and for the completion of their vision to a new level. But that’s up to them, not me.

2. Develop an overarching corporate narrative that explains (obviously among other things) where Microsoft’s view of business applications fits in. But that’s up to them not me.

3. Next time they speak to a larger group of analysts, make sure that they cover what they covered already, but thrown what they are doing to make this a better planet in whatever way that is. I know they are doing a lot. But the analysts must hear it. Up to them, not me.

4. Build out the ecosystem partner plan and the go to market strategies associated with that — and, to the extent they can, make that public to the partners in a way that the partners get excited, they will assuage partner concerns and align in a more visible way to their ecosystems and platforms thinking. Once again….fill in the not so blank.

All in all, Microsoft is back on the public stage. It would be stupid of me to say they weren’t an actor on the stage the last several months, since, after all, whether I know it or any other analyst knows it, they are Microsoft and are going to have some impact whether we are upset with them or not. But let’s just say the acting was bad. Not, say, Gigli or The Last Airbender bad, but bad. Now we are talking at least maybe not Black Panther good, but good nonetheless.

I’m glad that I was wrong.

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Are You Engineering the Customer Experience Out of Your Business?

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. However, there’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 due to most businesses’ seemingly inescapable need to focus on themselves instead of the customer, that’s often the case.

I ran across a prime example recently. I’ll admit it: I eat fast food sometimes — I eat healthy at home, and I have to balance it out once in a while. As a result, I noticed when the local McDonald’s was closed for three weeks for remodeling. When it re-opened, I visited. As someone who pays attention to customer experience, I was astounded — so much so that I went back two weeks later to take notes.

So Long, No. 4

Instead of a counter where your order was taken, there were four large touchscreens, so inconspicuously placed that the workers who used to be behind the counters were out in the lobby directing customers to them (and then offering guidance on how to use them).

The screens were about two feet wide and three and a half feet tall — so tall you had to stand back in order to see the entire surface. Even then, the interfaces were so poorly designed that you had to scroll down on some screens (because 36 inches just isn’t enough space, apparently).

To order what used to be a “No. 4,” I had to hunt down the right icons and push buttons 11 times. Once to indicate whether I was eating in or taking the food out, once to select chicken (vs. hamburgers, salads, etc.), once for the kind of chicken, once for the size of the meal, once for the kind of drink, once for the kind of sauce, once for the OTHER kind of sauce (?!?), once to confirm that was what I wanted, once to key in my table number, once to specify my payment type, and once to finalize payment.

There was a payment card reader at the kiosk. If you wanted to pay with cash, you had to flag down an employee and have them ring you up at the counter. You may remember the counter — it’s where I could have asked a human for a “Number 4, medium, for here,” and been done ordering.

When the food was brought out, there was no drink — I had not realized that when I pushed the button for a Coke, I should have known to turn around and get a cup from the dispenser behind me. I had to go get my drink after the woman running the food out pointed it out to me.

I get that the idea here is to reduce the number of employees in order to have a positive impact on the bottom line — but that wasn’t happening. There were people helping customers with the kiosks and people running food to the tables — the same people who had been behind the counter a month earlier.

The whole point of a restaurant of this nature is that you get in, order your food, and eat as quickly as possible. It’s a mundane customer experience, to be sure, but it sets expectations. The kiosks blew up my two-second ordering experience into a four-minute adventure in navigating a not-very-well-designed set of touchscreens. Then, the process wasn’t well explained about the drink.

Everything about the old way of ordering is better. Is the savings in headcount going to pay off if your customers stop coming in?

Keep Automation Simple

The experience was vaguely reminiscent of the supermarket self-checkout, which was supposed to do away with checkout clerks but instead created a new position for them as helpers for the befuddled self-checkouters struggling with a poorly designed process. (They also try to prevent clever customers from
exploiting the machines for fun and profit.)

Another aspect of this type of automation is that it takes the bat out of your employees’ hands. They can’t add to the customer experience with a little of their own personality if the technology takes their place and only allows them to participate when the customer is frustrated.

The best automation, when it comes to preserving the customer experience, is designed to automate the simplest part of the transactions. Think about airline check-in kiosks: they retrieve your flight information, print boarding passes and generate tags for your luggage, but you still have to show your ID and hand your bags to people behind the counter, and those people still tell you the gate number and wish you well on your flight. Your last contact with the airline before your wait at the gate is with a person, not with a terminal.

If you feel like you must automate customer-facing activities, map them out and decide which ones automation can do best — not to your benefit, but to the benefit of the customer experience. If you identify activities that aren’t suited to your machines, have your people handle them — and think through the process, automation should be used to help your customer-facing employees deliver better experiences, not to assist them out the door.
end enn Are You Engineering the Customer Experience Out of Your Business?

Chris%20Bucholtz Are You Engineering the Customer Experience Out of Your Business?Chris Bucholtz has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2009. His focus is on CRM, sales and marketing software, and the interface between people and technology. A noted speaker and author, Chris has covered the CRM space for 10 years.
Email Chris.

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Nokia may consider selling or closing its digital health business

 Nokia may consider selling or closing its digital health business

Nokia’s ambitious attempt to reinvent itself continued to unravel today when the company announced it had “initiated a review of strategic options for its Digital Health business.”

In a short statement, Nokia said:

“The strategic review of the Digital Health business may or may not result in any transaction or other changes. Any further announcements about the Digital Health business will be made if and when appropriate.”

The move is a surprising twist, coming less than two years after Nokia paid $ 192 million to acquire France’s Withings in order to essentially launch itself into the digital health business. Withings was known for its range of connected health products, including watches, fitness bands, sleep-trackersthermometers, and scales.

Withings CEO and cofounder Cédric Hutchings became vice president of Digital Health at Nokia. In a June 2016 interview, Hutchings said he was thrilled about the potential opportunities that would come with being part of Nokia.

“We have a huge ambition,” Hutchings said. “Nokia Tech is essentially a new company. And it’s in a very strong position to be seeding and building new businesses at Nokia.”

Withings was tucked inside a group called Nokia Technologies, a kind of startup hub based in Silicon Valley that existed within the broader Finland-based Nokia corporation. Nokia Technologies was assigned 30,000 Nokia patents that generate $ 800 million in annual revenue for the unit. It also had 800 employees, mostly engineers.

The idea was to take these patents, the revenue, and the team of engineers and start exploring new product categories for the company. One of the first initiatives was creating a Digital Media business whose product was the Ozo virtual reality camera. The second was Digital Health, which was jumpstarted with the Withings acquisition.

Nokia had hired Ramzi Haidamus away from Dolby Laboratories to run Nokia Technologies. But in August 2016 Nokia announced that Haidamus was leaving, though the company offered little information as to why.

Last fall, Nokia announced it was closing down the Ozo business and laying off 310 people. At the same time, it also took a write-down of $ 164 million on its digital health business, essentially setting the value of its Withings acquisition at zero, according to Reuters.

“The charge was taken as we updated our projections for the business,” a Nokia spokesman told Reuters at the time. “Despite the charge, we remain confident in the potential of our digital health business, and believe we have the assets, the brand and the innovation capabilities to succeed.”

Apparently, not so anymore as it appears digital health is next on the chopping block.

In a statement, Nokia emphasized that it wasn’t considering parting with its lucrative patent business. But as the company considers its options for digital health, the future of the Nokia Technologies experiment seems uncertain at best.

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How to Best Market a Retail Business

customer experience How to Best Market a Retail Business

Whether you work in retail or are a consumer, the retail business is one that most of us deal with on a weekly or even daily basis. Marketing in the retail realm has changed over the years thanks to the online shopping takeover. Consumers mostly know what they are looking for and marketers often have trouble trying to encourage shoppers to purchase things that are not on their shopping list.

An additional problem is being stagnant when you do begin your business. It is a tricky market and being ahead of the curve is essential. Marketers have to learn the ways to best market to their audience, but how?

What is Retail Marketing?

Before we get into the ways to best market with the retail world, let’s give a quick description on what exactly retail marketing is:

  • Retail marketing is the process by which retailers promote awareness and interests of their businesses and the products and services they provide all in an effort to generate or increase sales from their customer base.

Now let’s talk about the different ways retail businesses can or should market their business.

  1. Focus on how to sell what your business sells

Being in the retail business naturally relies itself to selling items, but you cannot rest solely on that to help your business get by. What is your business known for? Are there specialty items that can only be found there? Or is your particular product the most popular? Knowing what makes your business important and/or special allows for you to then zone in on how to sell those items. Separating your business from others with a great customer experience, automatically places your business in a different playing field. Your store items may be able to be found in any store, but great customer service is hard to find and isn’t lost among customers.

  1. Give consumers a reason to shop your business

Continuing from our first tip, you must give your customers a reason to shop your business. Whether it is stellar customer service or specialty products, something about your brand and business needs to stand out above the others. Having exclusive events, including special sales on discounted items can gain interests. Marketing those special events through promotional emails and social media campaigns.

  1. Motivate your customer base

Motivating your customers to take action can result in an increase in website visits, sales and creates the potential for your client base to increase. But who should business motivate their customers? Taking advantage of holidays, which natural creates an atmosphere for shopping, is the perfect time to promote action amongst customers. Marketing special promotional events, not only alerts your customers it encourages customers to spend money because there is a special sale taking place. Marketing is really important here because using specific language can help intrigue customers and encourage them to spend time and money on your business.

Bonus: How Customer Relationship Management Software Helps

WorkWise CRM software can help businesses within the retail industry. The software not only helps businesses with their daily operations, but helps to build and increase the business/ client relationship. Here are some of the things a business can achieve with the help of a CRM software in place.

  • Segmentation – CRM helps users gather information on your customers. That can range from their contact information to items purchase and the times they have contacted your business. This information can be used to better market and customized information toward your consumer base.
  • Purchases – Customer Relationship Management software keeps record of customer purchases as well. Knowing what customers have bought and how much of it, allows for your to market toward them if similar or exact items that they have purchased become part of promotional sale events.
  • Creates Brand Loyalty – Retail and CRM work well together because it creates opportunities to scope out your most loyal customers. Through that, you can help build strong brand loyalty and even use your most vocal customers (those who may leave frequent comments on social media/leaving product review) as branding advocates.

The retail industry is one that constantly changes, just like marketing. And with those changes, businesses must constantly work on ways to keep their business relevant through clever marketing campaigns, which involves knowing just who your consumer base is. CRM software helps you in the area and can also assist with your marketing efforts.

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New NetSuite Advanced Customer Support Transforms Traditional Support, Ensuring a Solution That is Always Optimized for the Business

websitelogo New NetSuite Advanced Customer Support Transforms Traditional Support, Ensuring a Solution That is Always Optimized for the Business

Posted by Todd Fitzwater, VP Customer Success, Oracle NetSuite

For years, businesses have been frustrated trying to get the full value out of their ERP systems. Software providers and consultants would come in to implement the system and things would be great. As the business evolves, either through growth, changes in the business model or acquisitions, the system no longer meets the company’s needs. Those systems either held the business back or required a new wave of consultants to come in to learn the business all over again and adjust the workflows, integrations and configuration. Changes to the business often necessitated new software modules, even new systems and re-implementations that can create hurdles for the business and hinder growth. And, with legacy on-premises systems, customizations could break with every upgrade. Additionally, with the release of new functionality, the customer was hard pressed to take advantage of these capabilities without additional significant investment.

NetSuite, which has already solved many of those problems with a cloud-based architecture that carries customizations forward automatically, has taken another step toward ensuring customers get the full value of their investment with a new support offering, Advanced Customer Support (ACS). ACS is a new approach to customer success, providing ongoing, proactive support and solution services for NetSuite customers, enabling them to scale and adapt to growth, new business opportunities and new competitive pressures, to maximize their use of the platform and the application.

With 40,000 organizations and subsidiaries running its software and two decades of defining cloud ERP, NetSuite has unmatched experience in cloud ERP. NetSuite understands that successfully advancing and sustaining its solution means going beyond a one-size-fits-all approach. Each business is unique, and support services should reflect that, understanding each customer’s environment and their specific needs.

Spanning three tiers — Monitor, Optimize and Architect — ACS provides a full spectrum of support across all NetSuite products, for all verticals and customer size, including:

  • Release management – The team works with customers to build awareness, offer guidance and facilitate testing for NetSuite’s two releases each year.
  • Performance and scalability – Customers get quarterly monitoring and assessment environment assistance to ensure the solution is running at peak performance.
  • Optimization – As businesses grow and evolve, the team provides ongoing solution advice, solution configuration and development advice for the SuiteCloud development platform, to ensure NetSuite is meeting all their needs.
  • Annual education pass – As part of this offering, customers receive the On Demand Annual Training Pass providing online access to the equivalent of all of NetSuite’s publicly offered on-line courses.

The new Advanced Customer Support offering, available to any customer on Premium Support, takes the support experience from reactive to proactive, ensuring the NetSuite solution is operating at the optimal level, mitigating risks and increasing ROI. With Advanced Customer Support, customers receive a named customer success manager and a named solution team that understands their business and solution environment, and provides proactive guidance and preventative services. With a committed team of customer success managers and a solution team that understands the environment, customers get faster response, optimized performance and reduced risk without having to fill out complicated SOWs, waiting for responses and constantly having to explain their business model.

To learn more about ACS, download the data sheet. Existing customers should contact their AMO.

Posted on Tue, February 13, 2018
by NetSuite filed under

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