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CloudCraze EVP Andrew Witherspoon: For Successful B2B, Set Aside Expectations

Andrew Witherspoon is the executive vice president of
CloudCraze and head of its product group.

In this exclusive interview, Witherspoon offers advice on enhancing customer engagement in business-to-business relationships.

84452 300x300 CloudCraze EVP Andrew Witherspoon: For Successful B2B, Set Aside Expectations

CloudCraze EVP Andrew Witherspoon

CRM Buyer: How do you see the relationship between CRM, sales, and marketing?

Andrew Witherspoon: Our experience has been that if there’s anything true about B2B service, you have to do it in the context of the customers themselves in order to be successful. That’s our philosophy.

What is the purpose of CRM and marketing? It’s to reach out, find and engage prospects, and to move them through a buying cycle. All those capabilities are on a CRM platform. Most other architectures can do all that on one platform, but then they’re sending you off to another platform to take an order.

In a traditional CRM system, you’d bring in a third silo: e-commerce. Each silo, though, has to have customer information. You’re essentially tripling the data and having to do complex handoffs. If you do it as much on one platform as possible, you’re able to move people through the platform, and you’re not handing people off.

Depending on the timing of the order process, you might have to go to three different architectures to go through with that order. By doing it all on one platform, you can engage at any point through the cycle, which is easier for employees at the brand and for the customer.

Omnichannel commerce is in fact created by knitting together four or five different architectures. By extending the data model to take the order in the context of your CRM, engagement dramatically improves your time to market and your flexibility to experiment.

CRM Buyer: How would you define good customer engagement?

Witherspoon: You need to understand what a person’s role is within the buying organization. Is it a procurement person, or someone who just wants to order a product quickly?

In the context of that understanding, you can treat them differently and cross-sell and upsell and provide content to them in a different way, in order to create a better experience.

To the customer, it seems like they’re just placing an order. You need to try to understand the context of the customer, and what kind of experience you can offer that makes sense within that context.

CRM Buyer: Can customers tell if CRM, sales and marketing aren’t combined and interrelated?

Witherspoon: Yes, that’s true. The reason I believe that is that everyone is being trained in their personal lives to have the ease of convenience. You can’t survive as a retailer if you can’t combine all your silos. People expect that same thing in their B2B experience. They expect everyone to have the same information.

Old solutions could do that, but if you do it all in Saleforce it makes it much simpler to deliver that experience. You don’t have to design and build an omnichannel experience. You get one automatically. That’s true for the analytics, as well.

In a traditional system with separate marketing, CRM and commerce, when someone filled up a cart and didn’t complete it, you’d have to run analytics, create a marketing campaign, solicit the customer, integrate it back to your commerce division, execute the campaign, and run third-party analytics — and if all of that didn’t work, you’d lose the sale. If you do it all on one system, though, it’s much simpler and efficient.

CRM Buyer: What is the key to interpreting and using customer data?

Witherspoon: That’s the real challenge. A lot of organizations struggle with how to leverage customer data. Our philosophy is that you have to experiment. It’s not intuitive.

Our most successful customers do market research to see how the customers are using the application. If you do it well, you’ll get more information, and they’ll buy more and feel more confident. We’re trying to do the same thing. To do that, it’s a journey for most of our customers. We’re excited about working with new companies to help them figure out how to do this.

The problem in B2B vs. retail is that there’s much less data. It’s a lot more variable than you would see in retail. In retail, you’re trying to optimize the shopping experience — but in B2B, people are there to place an order or to find a product. The key is not going in with a preconceived idea about what you’re looking for.

Where I see people struggle is where they have a hypothesis and go in to confirm it. The most successful businesses, however, see which experiences drive the best outcomes. You’ve got to measure the specific outcomes you’re trying to achieve.

CRM Buyer: What’s in the future for the integration of CRM with other elements, like sales and marketing? How is this kind of integration evolving?

Witherspoon: Integration is moving toward having one data model — for marketing, sales and service — that gives you the ultimate flexibility to engage through the entire customer journey and lifecycle.

A lot of companies, for example, are experimenting with subscription ordering. We see a lot of companies doing that in the beer, food and water treatment industries. Those scenarios are interesting because they produce a much more predictable supply chain and revenue stream. It allows them to be much more efficient in planning their procurement and manufacturing cycles.

You sign customers up for the initial subscription, but there’s a nurturing process when you encourage them to upgrade or suspend their subscription. It involves a different level of engagement that brings marketing tools to the lifecycle.

Companies need to be able to nurture a customer through the entire customer journey, or the subscription can be canceled at any time. Marketing, therefore, is core to the customer experience.
end enn CloudCraze EVP Andrew Witherspoon: For Successful B2B, Set Aside Expectations

Vivian%20Wagner CloudCraze EVP Andrew Witherspoon: For Successful B2B, Set Aside ExpectationsVivian Wagner has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. Her main areas of focus are technology, business, CRM, e-commerce, privacy, security, arts, culture and diversity. She has extensive experience reporting on business and technology for a variety
of outlets, including The Atlantic, The Establishment and O, The Oprah Magazine. She holds a PhD in English with a specialty in modern American literature and culture. She received a first-place feature reporting award from the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists.
Email Vivian.

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Beyond the wow factor: Why customer experience management is not about exceeding expectations

Before I turn this over to Thomas, I want to tell you something about him. Not his bio; I covered that in a previous guest post of his that you can read here. This is a bit more, ummm, right brained.

How Client Expectations are Changing for their CRM Solution

CRM Blog How Client Expectations are Changing for their CRM Solution

Defining desired business outcomes,  focusing on the relationship, and understanding the value in business optimization.

Over the last several months I have been involved in assisting several of our CRM customers with planning and implementing upgrades to improve their relationships with their customers or clients.

The organizations range from traditional industrial/supply chain companies and professional services organizations to industrial service suppliers in the financial industry and even two technology-consulting companies. While every one of these organizations takes a different approach to attracting and building relationships with their customers/clients, they do share a few common CRM objectives that will better align their teams to achieve their business goals.

  • Improve Customer Relationships
  • Improve Business Optimization & Efficiency
  • A better experience for everyone involved including the sales and customer service folks.

These objectives significantly differ from the objectives/goals initially identified by many organizations when first selecting and implementing a CRM system. This new approach of focusing on desired business outcomes, as opposed to the functional/tactical expectations for systems (we need to implement a database to gather our data; we need to track our sales resources activities, etc.), is driving solutions with greater efficacy, improved adoption across users, and better overall results both for the solution and for ROI.

Here is a brief overview of some of the “functional” aspects of the CRM solutions that our clients are requesting which is allowing them to meet, and in some cases, exceed their goals:

  • Visibility to gain a stronger understanding of how they interact, with their prospects and customers, to grow the customer base and increase the loyalty of their existing customers/clients
  • New ways to work and communicate to take advantage of all the organization’s assets (systems and resources) to increase their new customers/clients and grow the relationships with each existing customer/client
  • Marketing and communication integration is the ability to provide the right information to the right audience, segmented by their desires, at the right time; then, track their inquiries/responses and present that information, when qualified, to the sales team through the system without a great deal of manual intervention.
  • New ways to grow existing “customer” relationships utilizing the information available in the new system to identify opportunities that can be shared with marketing, inside and outside sales teams (or client/member managers in the case of professional services and non-profit firms), along with leadership, to offer solutions to existing customers/clients as to how to improve their businesses resulting in positive growth and increased customer/client satisfaction and loyalty. Being able to suggest recommended alternatives, or additional items based on other similar customer/client interactions, will create better solutions, and is one example of demonstrating functional need.
  • Inclusion reaching across departments and teams that have daily interaction with the customer/client, and bringing all team members into the “system”. Inside sales, order entry, customer service, support, and even design/development teams that interact with the customer have valuable information that affects the relationship and how we interact.
  • The inside sales team’s responsibilities by recognizing the value and increasing the interaction of the inside sales team as a part of the overall customer/client relationship
  • Mentoring and managing by using the tools to accelerate the sharing of information, that can help team members be more effective, identify potential areas for focus and improvement to reduce admin meeting time, which then allows them to spend more time working “on” the business of selling and supporting their customers/clients

Not every organization we work with is looking to achieve all of these functional aspects; most are looking at multiple functions to help them achieve their objectives.

As these desired functions have kept recurring in our range of customers, I thought it would be valuable to share more details about each of these focus area, highlighting not only how our customers are implementing these requirements, but also some options that you can use to determine if this approach might also improve your CRM solution.

Here’s to moving your business forward, faster.

by Affiliated, Inc.

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China's Baidu Misses Expectations As Net Profit Crashes 18.9%

Chinese search engine company Baidu published its unaudited financial report for the first quarter ended March 31, 2016, stating that its total operating revenue reached CNY15.821 billion, which was about USD2.454 billion and a year-on-year increase of 24.3%. But its net profit decreased by 18.9% year-on-year to CNY1.987 billion, which was about USD308.1 million.

Based on the average expectations of Wall Street analysts and calculated by GAAP, Baidu’s expected earnings per share was CNY5.96. The financial report showed that Baidu’s earnings per share was CNY5.38 during the first quarter of 2016, which failed to meet the expectations. Meanwhile, based on the average expectations of Wall Street analysts, Baidu’s expected operating revenue was CNY15.83 billion. The financial report showed that Baidu’s operating revenue was CNY15.821 billion during the reporting period, which basically met the expectation.

According to the company’s report, in March 2016, Baidu’s mobile search business had 663 million monthly active users, an increase of 9% compared with the same period of last year; its mobile map business had 321 million monthly active users, an increase of 19% compared with the same period of last year.

From January to March 2016, Baidu’s gross merchandise volume was CNY16 billion, which was about USD2.5 billion and a year-on-year increase of 268%. By the end of March 2016, Baidu Wallet had 65 million active accounts, representing a year-on-year increase of 152%.

In addition, Baidu announced a personnel change to its board. William Decker, former member of the board and chairman of audit committee, left the board due to retirement and replaced by Brent Callinicos. Callinicos once worked for Uber as CFO and became independent director of Baidu in October 2015.

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Customer expectations rise, while customer personalization stagnates

LAS VEGAS — Today, consumer expectations are soaring, but at the same time, companies are lagging on meeting these expectations.

It’s the age of the customer, in which customers rule. But while customers expect more from companies in terms of the level of service they receive, the kinds of marketing they will tolerate or the offers that they will pursue, companies are falling down on the job of effective digital marketing. Most customers see companies as failing to reach them in multiple channels effectively. They also see customer personalization efforts as one-dimensional, flat and even desperate.

According to “Contextual Marketing Imperative,” a 2015 Forrester Research survey of more than 1,200 respondents, 66% of marketers rated their efforts at personalization as “very good” or “excellent.” Just 31% of consumers said companies consistently deliver personalized experiences in multiple communication channels. Moreover, 40% said most promotions are irrelevant or have little value.

Andrea Fishman, a principal in the digital practice at PwC, discussed this gap between consumer expectations and company personalization efforts at the recent Adobe Summit 2016. Fishman said companies often lack a true omnichannel strategy that treats customers consistently, regardless of the medium they interact in — whether that’s email, SMS chat, a company website or another channel.

“Companies need to think more holistically about all the different places that they touch the journey of the customer,” Fishman said. “You might be able to improve the experience in the store, but if customer service doesn’t deliver that same experience, you’ve failed. The brand experience has to be consistent.”

Fishman also noted that companies are so overwhelmed by customer personalization that they often fail from the get-go. She explained that either companies enlist methods that are so basic as to be one-dimensional, as in simply using a person’s first name in email, or they don’t do it at all.

“Companies are limited in what they’re doing with personalization,” Fishman said. “Many companies are sending emails, and that’s about it. They are missing the bigger opportunities to provide context. It could be to provide content or custom offers — there are a lot of different ways. The key is to pick something and start testing.”

Fishman also noted that companies are often so overwhelmed by their customer data that they aren’t able to use if to meaningfully improve. They may capture too much data, or data that isn’t truly relevant to their business goals and key objectives, and it undermines their objectives.

“The business gets so excited about what they could measure that they measure everything and get lost in paralysis,” Fishman said. “It’s having a goal in mind: ‘What do I need to deliver on?’ instead of having a morass of data that you can’t take action on.”

For more, check out the video above.

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How to build financial apps to meet rapidly-evolving customer expectations (webinar)

Join us for this live webinar on Thursday, August 20th at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern. Register here for free

The fintech explosion has brought profound consumer innovations that increased financial inclusion and made financial management easier for all (and likely, raised the bar on consumer expectations). However, the pace of change is increasing and both banks and fintech innovators need to do even more to ensure they are well-positioned to succeed in the future.

Financial institutions (FI’s) may have just begun to come to grips with online and mobile banking innovations, but recent advances in wearable technology and the Internet of Things (IOT) provides a glimpse of customer engagement expectations in the very near future.

To succeed in this rapidly changing landscape, FIs and fintech innovators need to define how they want to succeed – whether to shape the industry by themselves, create value-added partnerships together, or manage defensively by putting off change. And they need to have a clear strategy to deal with the challenges posed by a massive generational shift in banking expectations.

As a result, the financial services industry is being reshaped by disruptive technology and a partnership between fintech and traditional financial institutions.

Don’t miss out!

Register here for free.

As Matt Harris of Bain Capital Ventures has been quoted, “The financial crisis caused the banks to realize they needed to partner with innovators. This has really opened up opportunities.”

In this webinar aimed at disruptive entrepreneurs, our panel of disrupters and financial experts will share valuable insights from the trenches. We’ll look at the needs of consumers and how those are feeding change. We’ll look at the role of financial institutions, and the role of fintech, and where the intersection and partnership opportunities lie. And we’ll look at growth fueled by wearables and the impact of the Internet of Things. If you’re a fintech startup, you won’t want to miss these essential learnings.

What you’ll learn:

  • What’s driving change in fintech
  • How to prepare for the coming wave of wearable technology
  • How to prepare for Generation Z
  • Why collaboration is the path forward to create killer fintech applications


Josh Gordon-Blake, SVP of Global Partnerships at Pangea

Grant Karsas, VP of Customer and Member Success at HelloWallet
Dr. Richard M. Smith, Founder and CEO of TradeStops

Elizabeth Gunderson, Senior Manager of Customer Success at Yodlee Interactive

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VentureBeat » Big Data News | VentureBeat

Big Data and Real Expectations: What Can Your Business Get Out of It?

Big data. It’s in the news, all over your trade journals, and in nearly every blog post you read. Is big data going to revolutionize the world, or is it just another trend that will come and go, leaving no lasting impact? More pointedly, what can your business really stand to gain from big data analytics and aggregation?

Big data is a truly impactful innovation, and it will continue to evolve and prove its usefulness for virtually every industry on earth. Big data has proven useful for predicting viral outbreaks, tracking trends in world markets, and improving ecommerce’s ability to serve customers with timely deals on merchandise they’re actually interested in. When and how can your business take advantage of big data? Here’s what you should know.

What are Your Specific Goals for Big Data?

Big data is powerful in finding correlations between events, but it’s useless in determining causality. For example, big data shows that an increase in non-commercial space flights tends to coincide with the number of people who earn doctorate degrees in sociology. However, no one actually believes that one has anything to do with the other. Similarly, the rise in purchases of organic foods noted by The New York Times between the years 1998 and 2007 correlated with a spike in the number of children diagnosed with autism, but does that really mean organic food consumption causes autism?

What big data analytics and data aggregation are incredibly useful for is finding consistencies amid large sets of data and using those consistencies to make predictions about simple events. For instance, big data has been incredibly useful for predicting the actual arrival times of airlines, resulting in the elimination of millions of dollars of waste per year. Data about weather conditions, the number of planes circling a given airport for landing, and information from radar is far more accurate in predicting what time a plane will actually land than a pilot’s gusstimated ETA. This allows ground crews to be available when the plane is ready to unload, and not be stuck waiting around wasting time. Each airport using this big data technology reports savings of millions of dollars per year.

Big data is incredibly useful and powerful, if you have a clear understanding of what your goals for big data are. However, it can’t be used to determine cause and effect, so it’s important to understand the limitations of big data analysis outside a clearly defined set of goals, such as reducing production times, identifying areas of waste, or determining what particular customers might be interested in buying.

How Large are Your Data Sets?

186270000 Big Data and Real Expectations: What Can Your Business Get Out of It?

The bigger the data the better when it comes to predictive analysis by computer.

Big data analysis is more accurate when it has more information to crunch. Data sets that are too large and cumbersome for humans to make sense of are a cinch for good processing power. An example is how Netflix is using big data to dominate the market for on-demand video streaming. Netflix uses big data analytics to gather enormous volumes of data about who watches what, when, how often, and for how long. This data gives them excellent insight into what other programs will be of interest to viewers and allows them to make suggestions to their viewers to keep them engaged.

In the absence of adequate amounts of data, and when data is too expensive to obtain or isn’t in a form usable by computers, human intuition can actually be more accurate. As in the cases of autism and organic foods, or sociology doctorates and non-commercial space flights, humans can make better sense of certain data sets than computers.

To recap, big data analysis can make sense out of large volumes of data and use it to make accurate predictions. However, it has to be really big data to be useful, and you have to realize big data can’t determine cause and effect. Finally, it’s important to establish clearly defined goals for your big data projects, so that your investments are more than just a hopeful shot in the dark.

To help companies cash in on their investments and achieve their big data goals, Syncsort offers a variety of solutions to help manage, store and analyze enterprise-wide data including mainframe, cloud computing and Hadoop.   Learn about Syncsort’s big data integration solutions for Linux, Windows, Unix, Mainframe and more.

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Constrained Nonlinear Optimization with expectations functions in the constraints

I am modeling an optimal compensation contract with a CRRA utility function

sol= Minimize[{a + s*100 + o*25, Expectation[(1/(1-c))((((w + a) Exp[rT]) + (s Exp[dT] +ol)*p Exp[(r-d-(1/2)q^2)T +(xSqrt[T]q)])^(1 – c)), x [Distributed] NormalDistribution[0, 1]]=-0.1349, Expectation[((((a + w) Exp[r* T]) + (p (lo + sExp[dT])* Exp[(-d-q^2*(1/2)+ r)T + qSqrt[T]x]))^(-c))(lo+ sExp[d*T])Exp[(-d-q^2(1/2)+r)T+qSqrt[T]*x], x [Distributed] NormalDistribution[0, 1]]>=0.00075, a >= 0, 0 <= s <= 1, 0 <= o <= 1}, {a,s,o}]

I need to find the results of expectation in the form of function(a,s,o) to be used in the constraints. This program have to be solved for multiples values of the parameters; in one case we have {{d -> 0.0269, q -> 0.3315, r -> 0.0435, T -> 1, w -> 1.1465, p -> 100, l -> 1, c -> 3}} and the initial values of a, s and o are: {{a -> 0.0941, s -> 0.0029, o -> 0.0089}} It is used to calculate the value of the constraint. I need to find the results of expectation in the form of function(a,s,o) to be used in the constraints. thank you very much in advance. Sawsen

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Simplify To Keep Pace With Customer And Regulator Expectations

by Justin Asher, Director of Financial Services, Strategic Accounts, SAP SE

Technology is changing every aspect of banking, but the greatest impacts will be on customer satisfaction and regulatory 272113 l srgb s gl Simplify To Keep Pace With Customer And Regulator Expectationscompliance. That’s a key finding in a recent research study[1] on banking innovation. This study summarizes extensive research and in-depth interviews with C-level representatives from banks and regulatory authorities.

In this two-part blog series, I’ll discuss some of the results of the study, drawing on my nearly 20 years of experience as a technology consultant to some of the largest banks in the EMEA region.

Banks embrace technology, but not fast enough for regulators

The study uncovered a significant disconnect between regulators’ expectations and the ability of banks to meet compliance and reporting requirements. Regulators expect banks to bring down the time lag for complex reporting from 10 days to just one day.

Banks fully understand that operating within the new dynamics of the financial services industry requires transformation. The problem is complexity – especially complex legacy systems and the lack of transparency they bring.

In the past, your average banking CIO was more interested in seeing out his tenure with as little disruption as possible. By being risk averse and only doing what was absolutely necessary, the CIO has perpetuated an infrastructure that’s incredibly complex, opaque, and difficult to run. Think of the IT equivalent of Spaghetti Junction (a massively intertwined highway interchange that resembles a plate of spaghetti).

Over time, many banks have introduced multiple layers into their financial and reporting environment, resulting in complex reconciliation structures that require many thousands of people actively having to reconcile different journals and solutions.

Simplification first is a must

Merely throwing new technologies at complicated legacy systems without transformation won’t by itself yield the long-term results that banks need. Banks need to move away from complex integrations towards a consolidated and dramatically simplified architecture based on open standards.

That’s where the right services partnership is important.

Having the right services partnership can help you execute the transformation with the right cost model and achieve the benefits in the shortest period of time. At SAP, we’re in a very unique position. Our services organization is focused on a rapid achievement of business value. We want to help you get the results you need as quickly as possible.

We also deploy highly skilled banking specialists and SAP software specialists with long- term banking expertise. So, our ability to engage on a project or in a particular area is unparalleled.

Top technology trends in the banking industry

Simplification is also tied into another key topic in the study, which focuses on technology trends in the banking industry. I’ll be publishing a blog on this topic soon.

For a deeper look at the study, download an executive summary.

To learn more about the banking expertise of SAP Services, visit our banking industry spotlight.

Feel free to share your views with me about this topic in the comments below.


[1] Martin Hellmich, Mike Pinedo, Bjoern Schuck, Sikandar Siddiqui, and Axel Uhl. The Benefits of Innovative Information Technology in the Banking Industry in Turbulent Times. Business Transformation Academy. July 2014.


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