Tag Archives: Salesforce

The big 4 tech companies — my musings on two, Microsoft and Salesforce

A few weeks ago, I unveiled a part of the Watchlist evolution with the Emergence Maturity Index (EMI) (more on that coming) and at the same time was able to identify a near-breakout candidate with the EMI prototype (subject to change without notice) — Cogito.

As you probably also noticed, I spoke of four companies that I thought were “re-breaking out.” Now as a brief call it, year end effort, I’m going to give you a short summary of the state of the Big Four — and there will be some inclusive info about the 0.5 addition to it — Adobe — which remains 0.5, not at the level of a Big 5 yet.

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Today, I’m covering two Salesforce and Microsoft. Also two other smaller but as important parts. First, the announcement of yet another (but very different) award for 2017 that will be expanded upon in 2018 and then something else that I’m going to be up to next year that you may or may not be interested in. See this this post for those things.

Following this post, a post upcoming on a piece of work that Brian Solis just released on change and change agents, called “The Digital Change Agent’s Manifesto” that I think is both fascinating for its framework and important for its purpose — and within its covers, goes through some things I have literally never seen anywhere else and yet, are kind of duh, how can they not have been taken into account — and wow, he made the point of accounting for this. I’ll leave you in suspense about what the hell I’m talking about until the post comes out but in the meantime, follow the link above and read the thing and see if you can figure out what I’m saying.

Following that post will be part III of this post — the final part — which will cover SAP and Oracle, and a couple of other not-random subjects that I want to make sure you’re thinking about as we go to the new year — one full year into my four-years-&-out-plan. That post will round out 2017 in fine style.

Here we go, readers.

Salesforce continues to meteorically rise, incrementally improve

Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference is their annual bellwether. This is the place that Salesforce trots out its vision, mission, technology announcements and the underlying themes for the coming 12 months or so — at least for the foreseeable future. Sometimes its huge, sometimes not so big, almost never subtle yet even though not subtle, it can be sandwiched between the cracks.

Most of the time, my colleagues tend to (rightfully) focus on the announcements of the conference including what is coming in technology and what Salesforce is doing in the world of corporate philanthropy or social good — and all of this is good information. I do the same. I listen to the announcements and then assess what I think according to what I heard and sometimes what I saw.

But this year is different. While I am sticking to my promise of not writing a tome about Dreamforce or any conference or for the most part anything lengthy on any vendor, what happened at this Dreamforce between the cracks is significant enough to be a part of my actual discourse on company in these pages. So, I will do something here and how. Get ready for the not-as-obvious.

There is a reason why Salesforce consistently remains the market leader and retains mind share year over year. It isn’t their technology — which is very good but there are several competitors who are equally as good. It isn’t their sales teams — they are at times, far, far too many times, hyperaggressive in ways that lose them deals and thus can be a lot more irritating than helpful — and even damaging to the brand. It isn’t their thought leadership — though they are true thought leaders, SAP in a classic sense, has superior business specific thought leadership content production and distribution. It isn’t just their marketing — though, to their great credit, they not only have the best marketing machine I’ve ever seen, but also one that is, more often than not and certainly more often than anyone else, attuned to the customers’ needs, desires, wants, triggers and demands — without selling short their own contributions to the market either.

It is their culture — their ability to implement a “greater good” outlook at a company of their magnitude. No company — and I mean NO OTHER COMPANY on this planet that I’ve ever seen or found — has a stronger more positive active outlook on the world — and makes the attempts to actually turn that outlook to something actionable and as part of that inculcates it into their culture in a way that activates their own employees to do the good that they look to do. Without getting too effusive, it is a culture that, with some gaps here and there, supports the better nature of human beings.

That’s a huge statement but its also a true one. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have blinders about any company of their size or Salesforce’s ambition to get to, I think the latest iteration is, $ 20 billion faster than any company in history. There are some not so wonderful things that kind of velocity tends to encourage. Nothing’s perfect.

However, Salesforce makes more than just a perfunctory attempt to be a company that is of value to the world and values the world too. They were built with a foundation of a force for social good as well as a company that does what all companies do — makes money. They are undergoing constant redesign to retain that status in a world that transforms by the minute. They have designed and more importantly, evolved their culture so that it encompasses the Good (with a deliberate capital G) as part of its mantra.

It started years ago with Mr. Benioff’s 1:1:1 philanthropical approach and his book in 2004 on what he called Compassionate Capitalism, was the announcement that it was meant to be more than something that just Salesforce did. It also reflected one other aspect of the Salesforce culture that drives the company to this day — its evangelical (in a non-religious) way — its desire to spread the idea of corporate social Good.

That was reflected in a somewhat overzealous statement that wasn’t reported on (until now) and was stated at one of the smaller (but significant) events at Dreamforce this year — the Trailhead Trailblazer Awards breakfast. Brent Leary and I had the honor of being two of the four judges for the awards, so we attended the breakfast where the winners were announced and honored. It was a truly nice small event with an enjoyable vibe.

But in the course of it, one of the senior executives of Salesforce who presented there said “Trailhead is a movement,” which I made note of far more “loudly” than it was actually meant to be heard. While I think that’s more than a bit of hyperbolic stretch — I’ve been a participant very actively in movements over my life and Trailhead and all that’s being done around it doesn’t even come close to qualifying as a movement — the sentiment and the thinking behind it is important to understanding the current psyche of Salesforce and its business culture.

If you were at Dreamforce, think of the environment. The built-for-the-conference architecture including the entrance arches, the atmosphere, the scenery, the artwork, the tone were all geared toward a strongly-contemporary-fun-to-be-part-of-and-with-a-true-mission-in-life, culture. The net effect and the network effect is that any person attending the conference, employed by Salesforce, or observing from afar felt what was effectively a cool rhythm with a purpose. That purpose was both making Salesforce a successful business and equally as important, making Salesforce a successful company.

Salesforce spends as much time working on their culture as they do selling stuff. They are in this for the long haul, have a proven record of major success, have become the 800-pound gorilla of the industry, but its an 800-pound gorilla who can dance with determined abandon. This leads to buy in from internally and externally facing human beings in the orbit of the company — and it is why they, unlike any other company in the industry are as close to a force of nature as a company can be.

It’s all about the culture — and how that culture makes the people associated with it feel. And, man, Salesforce does that really, really well. Do they have problems to address? Oh yeah, they do — see the earlier parts of this — but all in all, they are on a path to long term success — and mindful all the way along it.

Microsoft remains a puzzle unsolved but at least the pieces are now clearly in focus

Tech Pro Research

I spent a full day (not counting travel) in early October at Microsoft’s Business Forward event in Chicago to try and get a handle, which to be honest, I had lost, on what Microsoft thought it was doing with Dynamics 365 in particular and of course, to see at least a portion of whether or not it was executing on the company’s rather expansive vision.

I came out with some idea and some answers — all in all I felt it was tentatively not too bad — but, due to the lack of any subsequent either interactions with them or even seeing any announcements or hearing anything via the grapevine or finding much new about them that I hadn’t seen for months preceding or following, I’m now back to the level of “I’m really not very clear on where in the world Microsoft (a.k.a. Waldo) is.”

So please be aware that what I am about to say is actually inconclusive but the best I can do with a lack of communication and little news in the Dynamics 365 universe — at least news of any real significance. Given that, I’m going to let you know what I do know, and you can draw your own conclusions.

To frame all of this. I have been an retained adviser to Microsoft for the last 14 years — which is not the same as being an analyst. I bifurcate the two roles. My role as an adviser, as it is with other clients in the same world Microsoft is, is to help them be better than they are or were even if they are good or even great.

I’m not there to expose their competitors’ weaknesses — due to both an ethical repulsion to the idea of tearing down another company as an advantage and also, on a more practical level, there is a VERY likely chance that their competitors — at least some of them — are my clients as well.

So, I work to build strengths — which sometimes means tough love. I’ve had nothing but respect for Microsoft all this time but at the same time saw some things that I was clear, at least in my opinion needed to change. All of those suggestions were kept in house. There was no need for the public to be aware of them.

As an analyst, my mission is different. I need to present to the world at large — or at least that very small piece of the world that gives a crap about what I think of things — what I think is the status of a company — client or not — in the customer-facing technology markets and the value of their technology and their company to its potential buyers. That means that I sometimes have to say things that aren’t terribly nice about companies that might well be my client — and I will say them despite the possible onus to me — i.e. the loss of a contract. There is enough of a body of work out there to support that I’m not just blowing hot air about this.

As an analyst I do expect some things that I don’t expect as an adviser — chief among them regular (to whatever extent that means) interactions with the company based on what they feel — and this is entirely up to them — I need to know. Getting that regular information gives me the ability to make some judgments that I can present to those who read my posts, articles, stuff all in all.

To be clear, thus, in this post, I’m speaking as an analyst and as of this post, I have no contract of any kind with Microsoft. Also, caveat here, because I have limited knowledge, I’m musing, not providing any kind of solid guidance or direction. So call this a disclaimer.

So, what does this mean in terms of my assessment of Microsoft? To be entirely candid, I’m not clear on where Microsoft stands when it comes to Microsoft Dynamics. I’ve heard repeatedly from them they are deeply committed to it. I’ve heard this from two people who work there that I truly trust and a few that I know are supposed to tell me that so they do. Because of the people I trust, I’m inclined to believe them, but not absolutely certain, either.

When I was at Business Forward, I saw Microsoft via the new Dynamics 365 chieftain, James Phillips show what was a very capable suite of sales and especially customer service applications and, during the same presentation, saw Adobe Digital Marketing Suite highlighted as the Microsoft Dynamics 365 offering, with literally no mention of what used to be Marketing Pilot — all in all a move that I can’t say was the wrong one — in fact, let me be more positive — it’s the right one.

What was noticeable was the lack of any demos of back end Dynamics e.g. Nav or AX at all. What I saw was Dynamics 365 CRM or Intelligent Customer Engagement as they used to call it — or maybe still do, I don’t know for sure. Which I find interesting if not particularly conclusive. From what I gather, what I saw was the last iterations of what Jujhar Singh built before his departure to Salesforce. Which is fine. Doesn’t really matter. I just find it interesting.

I also saw the evidence of an extraordinary partnership in the making with Adobe — one that goes both very deep in the joint go-to-market efforts but even deeper in the technical integration of the Adobe Marketing associated stack with Microsoft from Azure as the infrastructure down to the architectural nooks and crannies. It was so prevalent it makes me think that someday Microsoft will entertain acquiring Adobe though I heard nothing about that nor have I any evidence of even a discussion about it. But it wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world. Just my two cents or 2+ billion dollars.

I also saw evidence that Satya Nadella’s vision of making Microsoft the centerpiece for all 21st century business infrastructure is still intact. This wasn’t overt on the stage — after all this was a discussion of Microsoft business applications. But his vision was intact with the peripheral (to the event, not to the company) evidence of the growth of Azure as a trusted business cloud infrastructure at the enterprise level, the bulking up of PowerBI, which is now more competitive than it had been with some of the larger analytics suites such as SAP’s (from the outgrowth of Business Objects and HANA), though probably still not quite there yet; and with the evolution of Office 365 from a productivity suite to an industry leading unified communications hub — with the subsequent integration of multiple products in and around the suite.

It also was in evidence with the extension of the ecosystem with the Adobe partnership and several other smaller partnerships It also became evident with the release of several products geared to the consumer business market such as the hardware in the Surface line such as the Surface Studio and the Surface Pro hybrid, both of which received giant kudos for their work power and their style in 2017. Plus multiple other things that are not the subject of this post.

But business applications, with the Adobe Digital Marketing component added and the completed integration of Parature as the core customer service component, while eminently capable of standing alone and competing with anyone, seem to be the bastard child probably because it’s a small piece of Microsoft’s overall business. It doesn’t get more than a lot of lip service and assurances that there is a commitment to it. Business Forward was valuable to me because it showed me that they have those capable apps, but the followup and subsequent lack of visibility since them makes me think that the commitments are just not there.

The reason I find this distressing is that how can you be an integral part of all of 21st century business infrastructure without a commitment to business apps beyond a lot of chapped lips?

As I stated in the beginning of this piece, and in the title of the post, this is a musing, not a piece of deep analysis. The reason? I don’t really have any interaction with Microsoft, for reasons that I thought I had the answer to, but as it turns out, I remain unaware of. I had some hopes that, post-Business Forward, that I’d be part of their analyst cadence again, but apparently I’m not, since my interaction since that event is once again back to none. I’m not complaining really. That’s their choice. But it does leave me with a lack of information that I would otherwise need.

Thus, this Microsoft discussion not does rise beyond more than my speculative observation. That said, I think I’m pretty sound in my thinking. I’m simply not claiming to as be definitive as I ordinarily am — 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. I hope that they are smart enough to see that they have a highly competitive product suite at highly competitive pricing — and with Adobe in the mix can compete with anyone — and that their vision isn’t ever going to be complete without not just a reversal of their reduction of business apps importance, but an elevation of it as a mission critical part of the ecosystem needed to complete their vision.

But then, what do I know?

The Best and Favorite Personality Awards, Part Deux

For a long time, forever in fact, I have been dealing with senior management at multiple companies, most of whom I have found to be standup human beings — partially because I get to choose who I want to deal with, partially because most people are fundamentally good, not venal and it is not dictated by their position. What is somewhat dictated by their position, however, is the kudos, the lauding over their goodness, because they have such visible public postures and faces. And that’s fine and dandy. They are public, they have earned their position more often than not, though occasionally not and they have maintained their good nature in a broad public market, to their credit.

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However, there is a much larger group of human beings who are equally as good — or even better in individual cases — who don’t get any recognition because they are not senior executives in the public eye. This group isn’t limited to a single job description or type of person. It is all those, the vast bulk of the human population who aren’t senior executives and who in specific aren’t necessarily public figures.

Yet, they work every bit as hard and are every bit as good in their own ways as the senior execs are. The difference is that nobody really publicly recognizes them for that.

Nine years ago, I did something about that to some degree and began what I called “The Best and Favorite Personality Awards” on my “other” blog, Pgreenblog (both here and here if you’d like to see who actually won) It recognized people who were either flying under the radar or simply didn’t get the good wishes they deserved and were (and are) truly good human beings for their warmth, kindness, empathy and also their business acumen. It recognized people in such categories as:

  1. Greatest Customer Advocate at Any Vendor (HOF-level)
  2. Best Interacting with Media & Analysts
  3. Most Gentlemanly Marketing Person
  4. Most Exceptional Executive Assistant
  5. The Secret Vendor IntellectualMost Under-the-Radar Exceptional Person at a Vendor
  6. They Get “It” Most Under-the-Radar Senior Management – Large Company
  7. They Get “It” Most Under-the-Radar Senior Management – Small Company
  8. Best Marketing Real Person
  9. The Incredible Decency Award (Vendor Version)
  10. Best Independent Analyst
  11. Best Corporate Analyst
  12. Analyst Who Walks the Walk
  13. Best Under-the-Radar Analyst
  14. Best Thought Leader in Her Own Right/Best PR Person to Deal With
  15. “Goodest” CRM Practitioner
  16. The “Charitable Heart” Award
  17. Best CRM Person in Academia
  18. Smartest Guy in CRM
  19. Most Under the Radar Good at What He Does

I spent a lot of time thinking through folks I knew and had worked with before and who really were great to work with and to know. And then… I didn’t really do much with it anymore and didn’t annualize the way that I intended.

So, starting in 2018, once again, I am bringing this back at the year end. Who are the good people that I know (and perhaps that you do) and who are the folks that can be publicly acknowledged to be the wonderful human beings they are. How I handle it is still TBD — only people I know; accepting nominations; working with a group of influencers/analysts to make the determinations?

I’ll figure all that out. But I have one person that I’m going to give the award to this year because I think that they (see how I keep you in suspense by making it gender neutral, though grammatically incorrect) truly should be applauded due to their exceptional work that goes noticed at their employer but is not known outside.

To do that and as a foretaste of things to come in 2018, I’m going to use the same three-judge panel I used in 2008. They are, in no particular order, but in conjunction:

  • My head
  • My heart
  • My hands

All eminently capable individually but are most capable when judging as a unit. So, as a taste of things to come, I’m announcing…

The Best and Favorite Personality Award for 2017 for Executive Assistant of the Year

Why this one? Because, as a group, executive assistants are perhaps the most underappreciated people — not usually at their place of employment — they tend to be recognized for the work they do there — but beyond that, not recognized at all — and that’s just wrong. Analysts like me, and all others who are involved in the outreach from vendors and others are always in touch — ALWAYS — with the EAs of many of the senior executives that we have to deal with. They are the lynchpin more often than not for the success or failure of a relationship between the analyst/influencer/journalist and the senior exec they serve — and often, thus, the company. That means that they are often the front office face of the company — behind the scenes — if that makes any sense.

There are a lot of very competent executive assistants. In fact, the bulk of those I deal with in a given year with any regularity — which means about 40-50 perhaps — are eminently capable of doing their job as well as the next person doing it. They all have ambitions too — most to be more than an executive assistant, which, they, in conversation, see as a stepping stone to their career ambitions.

But what makes the executive assistant who even qualifies for this award special is that they already exhibit enough maturity, skills, personality, knowledge, experience, and confidence to go beyond the job right away and already function in a capacity more like a chief of staff than the typical job description of an executive assistant. Meaning they stand head and shoulders above all those already very capable people who were among the candidates for this award.

It was a tough decision. There were three all in all, who showed me a lot more than being just excellent at their jobs — which is an achievement in itself. Of the three though, one stood out for their (see, still keeping it gender neutral but grammatically incorrect so I don’t give away the gender of the winner. How clever am I? (He stands patting himself on the nearly bald pate).

The one thing that they had that the other two candidates did not — a commanding presence and a level of confidence that smacked of “CEO of a company someday.” This person has all the chops to not only serve as an EA, not only be a chief of state, but could be, if that is their career interest, the leader of a company, because of the leadership qualities they exhibit in the role that they currently have.

So, without any further ado, the winner of this year’s Best and Favorite Personality Award for 2017 Executive Assistant of the Year is:

Kimberley Maddock of PROS!

While it might have been a tough race, Kimberley ultimately won hands down. What she (suspense over) does day to day at PROS is function well beyond her job description — more as a chief of staff than an executive assistant. That means that not only is she able to take care of what she is designated to be responsible for, but she also is able to take command in situations that demand it, be confident in her ability to tell the CEO, her boss, what he needs to hear and do — and engender the CEO’s trust to the point that he hears it and does it.

She also does this with grace, charm and good humor in a highly social position with responsibilities that tend to run to real time rather than long term — and thus have a constant pressure to have the tasks completed in the here and now — not an easy demeanor or workload to maintain day in and day out.

It goes beyond that though. She is responsible for the CEO office’s logistics which means the logistics and tasks that involve the entire ecosystem around the CEO, Andres Reiner. For example, that means that when PROS puts on Outperform, their user conference, she is responsible for my logistics or any other analyst who deals with the company. At Dreamforce, because PROS is a Salesforce partner, she is responsible for the scheduling of the CEO’s meetings but also, in conjunction with others, the success of their Dreamforce-related events — something that goes well beyond the scope of the job description.

Andres and the rest of PROS senior staff are well aware of it. I asked a couple of them for a quote about her for this post and here is what I got:

PROS SVP Tim Girgenti: “Kim is an outperformer in every sense of the word. She helps ensure everyone around her is successful, while making her own job seem effortless. Kim genuinely has the best interest of others at heart. I couldn’t be happier for her as she wins this well-deserved award.”

PROS President & CEO (and Kim’s boss) Andres Reiner: “Kim is incredibly deserving of this recognition, and I’m pleased to offer my sincerest congratulations for this extraordinary award. Kim serves as an example for all of us and for PROS core values when it comes to creating positive experiences for people both inside and outside our company. Her passion and commitment to innovation and ownership in her role guide all she does to make PROS great. I’m honored to work with her. “

See what I mean. It was no problem getting those quotes. I had them without any hesitation on their part. They get her value.

In my dealings with her, when something needs to be relative to me as an analyst or as retained adviser to the company, the stuff gets done in time and never needs to be fixed ex post facto. And always with good cheer and a strong personal interaction.

But finally, another distinguishing feature, she has a future in mind that takes her to another level — meaning the kind of ambition that requires great character prior to achieving it. I’ll leave it to her to tell you what that is if she wants to but all in all, Kim is worthy of being singled out as the Best and Favorite Personality Award Executive Assistant of 2017, because she deserves to be known by more than those from PROS. So, I’m telling you.

CRM Watchlist Status and Media Plans

Finally, I want to close this post with a status report on the 2019 CRM Watchlist and some big plans that I have moving forward through the next 3 years. I’m going to be brief since this, as always, is a long post.

Here they are in brief:

CRM Watchlist 2019 Status

  1. New criteria that separate out the Watchlist qualifiers (mature companies) and the Emergent Maturity Index Award qualifiers (emerging companies) are now completed. Watch for them 1/2019.
  2. A couple of twists will be surprising but positive for the Watchlist submitters. Though not necessarily obviously there, trust me, they are.
  3. The questionnaire revamp is underway but not complete yet. It also will come out 1/2019 when the new registration forms are made available.
  4. Registration opening for the CRM Watchlist 2019 and the EMI 2019 will be most likely the last week in January not the first week as originally planned.

Digital 2018 Game Plan

I’m planning on opening up the 56 Group site. The game plan which may change dramatically by the time I actually do this is:

  1. Two blogs — one devoted to business stuff that wouldn’t be on ZDNet; the second will be anything at all — literature, consumer reviews, sports, science, art, pop culture, music, food reviews. Whatever I want.
  2. A community
  3. Forums
  4. Most interestingly — a learning management system (LMS) with courses on customer engagement. Based on the book, I’m looking into actual certification and what it requires — not just a claim that I am certifying you.
  5. A paid member only area
  6. A built-in loyalty program
  7. A marketplace
  8. The revival of my podcast which was called Experience on the Edge (EOTE) and may be that again but may not
  9. A home for CRM Playaz

Is this all definitely going to come to pass? Not necessarily. We shall see. I have to see what kind of time this will demand of me and also what it takes to build it in WordPress which is not an existing skill I have, though I’m learning. I have one offer of some help which may make this easier. More on this coming later. Launch looks to be midyear. Or some other time before or after that.

So, this is post 1 of 3 that will end 2017 and usher in a great 2018 which I am excited for. Very excited for and thankful for — that I get to do this for three more years. I’m a lucky person. That I am.

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Microsoft Dynamics 365 vs. SalesForce

Trying to decide whether to implement Microsoft Dynamics CRM or SalesForce may seem like a tricky decision at first. We are here to guide you through your decision-making process and present some advice our clients have found helpful in the past.

Logan Consulting is a proud supporter of Dynamics CRM, also known as Dynamics 365, for a variety of reasons. Dynamics 365’s overall cost, integration ability, development, deployment, and consulting options outshine the competitors.

Here’s why:

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Microsoft Dynamics 365 vs Salesforce Webinar December 7th

Dynamics 365 vs Salesforce 1 300x297 Microsoft Dynamics 365 vs Salesforce Webinar December 7thMicrosoft Dynamics 365 (CRM) and Salesforce. If you are evaluating a customer relationship solution for your organization, odds are pretty good that you have come across the names of these two leading CRM platforms.

Just like Coke vs Pepsi these two technologies have many similarities.  But how do they really compare to each other?

If you have begun your research online you can find TONS of information on each of these touting their strengths and weaknesses.

Ledgeview Partners takes a unique approach and works with both of these solutions, which allows us provide you with an unbiased look at each of these leaders side by side.

Join us for our “Salesforce vs Microsoft Dynamics 365/CRM” webinar as we dig in and evaluate each of these solutions across multiple comparison points with a focus on sales that include:

  • Navigation
  • Dashboards
  • Pipeline Management
  • Sales Process and Account Management
  • Mobile and Portals

To round it out, we will be talking about what makes each solution unique beyond sales including marketing, customer and field service, community, social, third-party add-on solutions, and more.

Whether you have a CRM in place, or looking for a new solution, you will not want to miss the comparison of these two giants. If you cannot attend the live session, register, and we will provide a link to access the webinar on-demand after the live session.

Webinar: Salesforce vs Microsoft Dynamics 365/CRM
Date: Thursday, December 7th, 2017
Time: 11:00am – 12:00pm CST
Hosted by Ledgeview Partners

Salesforce vs Microsoft Dynamics 365 Webinar 12 7 17 1 Microsoft Dynamics 365 vs Salesforce Webinar December 7th

For more information on this webinar or business and technology services and solutions, please contact Ledgeview Partners at [email protected].

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Salesforce Gets Granular

If you need an example of digital disruption, you can’t do better than the retail banking industry. A byzantine collection of rules and regulations plus the overhang of many legacy systems have conspired to prevent banks from becoming more involved with their customers.

Even innovations like the ATM, which entered the scene several decades ago, only serve to distance banks from their customers. This leaves plenty of opportunity for upstart technology vendors to disrupt the applecart.

Combine this with a generation of potential customers who were raised on digital products and services, and the result is that an important demographic is now up for grabs, setting the stage for disruption.

Making It Easy

Not long ago, Salesforce recognized those dynamics in play and moved to develop vertical applications for selected industries — including banking, where large institutions need to address the requirements of large customer bases. It came up with the Financial Services Cloud for Retail Banking, announced last week.

Some of what Salesforce delivers in its Financial Services Cloud will seem revolutionary to many bankers: things like a rich assortment of applications for all phases of banking, from loan origination to customer management.

However, a good chunk of the benefit comes directly from being a cloud solution with easy onboarding and updates scheduled three times per year.

Partnering Up

Where the Salesforce Financial Services Cloud differs from many banking products is in the way it brings together banking products resident in its AppExchange to deliver concerted solutions.

For example, nCino tells a powerful story of reducing loan origination time by orders of magnitude — not by building a closed system but by integrating other platform products.

Another example is Vlocity, also a partner with strong banking apps based on the cloud platform. It provides intelligent agent and omnichannel services for financial services and insurance.

In these and other relationships, you can see the Salesforce go-to-market approach solidifying. Partners bring expertise, which can be as big as loan origination or as specific as document signature capture. All of it goes into a solution that customers can craft for their specific industry needs.

Adding Specificity

As I’ve noted many times before, when companies get to the multibillion-dollar revenue level, they can’t expect to sell the same products in the same ways they did when their businesses were much smaller.

To show growth, a business needs help — and that means acquiring other complementary businesses and selling in concert with partners that can add specificity to the core product.

Salesforce has done both, and I look forward to hearing more about vertical strategies at Dreamforce.
end enn Salesforce Gets Granular

Denis%20Pombriant Salesforce Gets GranularDenis Pombriant is a well-known CRM industry researcher, strategist, writer and speaker. His new book, You Can’t Buy Customer Loyalty, But You Can Earn It, is now available on Amazon. His 2015 book, Solve for the Customer, is also available there. He can be reached at

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3 Things a Well-Architected Salesforce Integration Can Do for Your Organization

rsz bigstock missing jigsaw puzzle piece wi 88882046 3 Things a Well Architected Salesforce Integration Can Do for Your Organization

Did you know that with a great Salesforce integration you can automate business processes, cut down on human error, and get a full view of your customers? All you need is a well integrated Salesforce system that enables data sharing across your entire network.  

The reality is, not all integration approaches are created equal. Some only enable data to be moved in one direction between systems. Some appear easy at the onset, but require considerable coding. Others only offer point-to-point integration and can only tie one system to another. And still others don’t act as a platform where data can be easily shared across the organization.

Businesses that choose the right integration solution will be rewarded with speedier, cost-effective integrations that can create unique competitive advantages to put them ahead of the curve. In our new whitepaper “Nine Strategies for a Successful Salesforce Integration”, we’ll walk you through how to pick the best integration solution for your company.

The great thing is, you don’t have to be a technical expert to understand and execute Salesforce integration. As long as you can grasp the concept of information moving from one system to another, you’ve got it.

In today’s digital world, customers, employees, and partners expect anytime, anywhere communications, instant responses, and up-to-date/real-time information. The battle for business will be won by being able to support business requests faster and better. To surpass the competition, enable your systems to work together at top speed. Read our paper to get started today.

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The TIBCO Blog

Salesforce Parallelism

For several years now, Salesforce has built distinct product lines that all work off the same platform and can integrate in interesting ways. There are product lines for the enterprise, small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), business-to-business (B2B) firms and business-to-consumer (B2C) operations — and probably some others that I haven’t considered. For instance, the AppExchange contains a wealth of apps for very specialized types of front-office business, as well as some back-office apps, like accounting.

salesforce Salesforce Parallelism

We’ve recently seen product announcements for account-based marketing (ABM), partner relationship management (PRM), e-commerce, and a variety of analytics implementations. While supplying its core customer relationship management market, Salesforce also has been evolving as a provider of more generic products and tools that any business can use to develop unique solutions to its business processes.

The rationale for all of these new products is simple. Salesforce has advised my financial analyst friends that it is on track to generate more than US$ 10 billion in revenue from its SaaS business in its current fiscal year. That’s $ 10 billion of recurring revenue, which is quite an accomplishment. However, in doing this, the company bumps up against the same constraints that conventional companies encounter.

Broadening the Footprint

All companies need to extend product lines and attract ever-larger populations of customers. A conventional company brings out a lower-cost product for downstream markets that are more price sensitive, along with higher-priced solutions for customers who might require more handholding or glitz.

Product companies do it with form factors, features and even colors. If you’re a Software as a Service company, though, many of those avenues are blocked by the very democratization of the product that made subscriptions so appealing in the first place. Subscription products come pretty much in one flavor — there’s no B-grade.

That leaves other approaches to broadening the footprint that often are more useful than common line extensions. That’s one reason Salesforce continues to add specificity to its solution set. For instance, at one point not too long ago, it was enough to offer tools for building websites running on the platform.

Today, a website isn’t enough. The site has to be able to take an order and offer multiple ways to deliver products and services, up to and including connecting the brick-and-mortar store with the site and the catalog, AND connect to the billing system. That’s e-commerce in a nutshell.

Similarly, vanilla CRM once was enough to excite anyone carrying a bag and trying to ride herd on a lot of customer data — but no more. As the indirect channel shows, selling is multilevel, and the tools needed by original equipment manufacturers to sell and service distributors are qualitatively different from the tools used in direct sales by the channel associated with a distributor.

Nonetheless, everybody wants a view into the data so that each can better manage its part of the universe. So it becomes essential for CRM to inform PRM of field activity, just as it’s important for PRM to inform the field about features, functions and special opportunities. In between, the OEMs need to deal with distributors over market development funds, deal registration, discounts and commissions. The result is the modern PRM-CRM hookup.

Account-Based Marketing

Of course, that’s not all. Selling and servicing end customers is qualitatively different from servicing business customers, which is not unlike an indirect channel set-up — but the business processes are totally different.

In a B2B setting, one company might serve as a component supplier to another, and the indirect channel aspects of the relationship may be completely lacking. If you sell components like electric motors, plumbing fittings or chemical reagents, your customer isn’t so much adding value to your stuff (as in an indirect channel) as it is simply outsourcing a part of its business process that could, if needed, be done in-house.

Your job is to do the work better, faster, with fewer errors — and of course, cheaper. Into this milieu, Salesforce last week introduced enhanced account-based marketing.

If you are marketing to enterprises, you might gear up for a long sales cycle with a purchase decision by committee. If you’re selling to end consumers, just the opposite might be true. You might need to tightly script the customer journey — decisions can be made in a flash, and one mistake can cost you the business.

Consequently, there’s a raft of what at first might seem like overlapping marketing apps, but when you begin to tease apart the target business processes, you realize one tool set is more appropriate than another. It’s the difference between marketing and account-based marketing.

Chaos Reduction

We haven’t even looked at how developers for all of these different approaches to markets deal with modifying the underlying apps — but there’s a whole story there too. While the technology might be the same under the skins, there’s still a lot of process understanding to be done before it all makes sense.

Of course, Salesforce Trailhead is there to help with self-paced training — and with more than 100 badges to earn, there’s a lot of differentiation to consider.

So it goes. Salesforce is not the only vendor doing all of this, but it seems like the one most oriented to dealing with end-to-end process automation in a variety of instances. As I said at the beginning, it has had to find ways to increase the addressable market, and it has. The result has been more order and less chaos, which you sometimes can find in an extended product set. Good enough.
end enn Salesforce Parallelism

Denis%20Pombriant Salesforce ParallelismDenis Pombriant is a well-known CRM industry researcher, strategist, writer and speaker. His new book, You Can’t Buy Customer Loyalty, But You Can Earn It, is now available on Amazon. His 2015 book, Solve for the Customer, is also available there. He can be reached at

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CRM Buyer

Salesforce Offers Alternative to Old-School Partner Portals

Salesforce on Wednesday announced the Sales Cloud Lightning Partner Relationship Management app as a replacement for partner portals and electronic data interchanges that lack modern features such as built-in mobile, social analytics and AI capabilities.

The PRM app has an interactive Guided Setup Wizard that lets channel managers configure, customize and deploy the app in days. It manages lead distribution, deal registration and marketing development funds, and it automatically assigns partners into meaningful tiers for targeted promotions and customized content. It also has AppExchange Components such as Xactly and NetExam.

Among Sales Cloud Lightning PRM’s Features:

  • Lightning CMS Connect, which lets channel managers drag and drop existing website content, graphics and videos to keep branded partner experiences up to date;
  • Einstein Content Recommendations, which use machine learning to recommend files such as logo graphics, product placement instructions, and pricing documentation for a new product; and
  • Channel Marketing Automation, which lets companies build, track and analyze email campaigns using the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, to deliver 1:1 customer journeys on any device.

“Sales Cloud PRM is all about making your partners an extended part of your sales team and giving them the tools and information needed to accelerate deals,” said Greg Gsell, senior director of Salesforce sales cloud product marketing.

It’s “a turnkey app … built entirely on the Salesforce Intelligent Customer Success Platform, which includes Service Cloud,” he told CRM Buyer. Service Cloud “helps companies globally … deliver intelligent, conversational customer service.”

Partners account for one third of the average company’s revenue, and more than two-thirds of revenues for companies in high-tech, manufacturing and telecom, Salesforce has found.

Salesforce’s Rationale

“PRM is not new,” noted Rebecca Wettemann, VP of Nucleus Research.

“What’s new is Salesforce’s approach, which brings a modern UI and AI capabilities to PRM,” she told CRM Buyer.

The app “gives customers the advantages of Salesforce’s workflow automation and other tools for partner management, not just community collaboration,” Wettemann said.

It will improve partner stickiness for users, because “in a cloud world, partners can switch alliances more easily and quickly,” she pointed out. “Providing them with modern tools and more ready access to support will make switching less attractive.”

Partner relationship management “used to just be lead distribution, but now companies must deeply engage with partners to drive channel success,” noted Gsell. “You need PRM blended with CRM to deliver a great experience.”

Manufacturing companies are placing increasing emphasis on customer relationships, customer service, and new technologies such as AI, because technology makes it easier for customers to switch, said Salesforce.

Einstein “can help partners with content recommendations, and I can see it progressing to suggest optimum product and solution bundles,” observed Cindy Zhou, principal analyst at Constellation Research.

Target Market

The PRM app “is for any company or industry … looking to increase partner engagement and deal velocity within their channel sales organizations,” Gsell said.

Manufacturing, high-tech and telecoms “have the highest amount of revenue coming from indirect channels such as resellers, distributors and partners,” Constellation’s Zhou told CRM Buyer.

The PRM app “simplifies the setup process and minimizes the need for IT support for companies to help their partners get up and running fast,” she said.

Accessing the latest information on products or solutions, marketing materials and sales team training via mobile devices is becoming increasingly critical, Zhou noted, and the PRM app’s one-stop-shop solution “can lead to increased sales and faster deal cycles.”

The app’s strengths are mobile engagement for partners, a clean UI, and integration with CMS, learning management systems and compensation, Zhou said.

However, at US$ 25 per member per month, “it could be challenging for companies with broad networks of partners, resellers, distributors and dealers to enable,” she cautioned.

Other companies, such as Microsoft Dynamics, SugarCRM and Zoho, have partner enablement portals that “are due for a refresh,” Zhou pointed out. “There will be more announcements to come.”
end enn Salesforce Offers Alternative to Old School Partner Portals

Richard%20Adhikari Salesforce Offers Alternative to Old School Partner PortalsRichard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology.
Email Richard.

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CRM Buyer

Helpshift Integrates With Salesforce

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

A mobile “help” app should deliver help the customer values. One that misunderstands the customer’s situation or its role in responding to it can be a source of pain, frustration or even customer churn. We’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t see that problem.

Good AI and machine learning tools have done a lot to ensure that the sales offers vendors place on customers’ small screens are the ones customers actually value.

The same need exists in customer service — putting the right information before a customer — but AI might not be necessary. However, because the mobile screen will support only one idea at a time, it’s critical that the help is, well, helpful.

There’s less to wonder about in a help situation and therefore less need for analytics. What is needed is simply step-by-step help as a customer traverses a process.

The Helpshift Approach

Helpshift, an emerging company in the customer service space, has been supporting service processes with an innovative approach to placing help at every step in a service process. This approach ensures the app’s help keeps up with the customer’s need.

Helpshift did something really cool this week, when it announced integration with the Salesforce Service Cloud and made the integration available on the AppExchange. Importantly, Helpshift FAQs are mapped to and managed by the Salesforce knowledge base, making it possible to manage Helpshift from the Salesforce dashboard.

When a mobile user initiates a chat in a Helpshift-powered mobile app, it automatically creates a Salesforce case. The case contains all of the metadata and data from the user’s phone, saving time and increasing accuracy and time to resolution.

It’s not hard to create a first-level integration with Salesforce, and many vendors do this. What’s interesting about Helpshift’s approach is that it has created an integration that not only satisfies the end user in the moment, but also goes on to work within Salesforce to enable knowledge base updating over the life of the mobile app.

From that point, you can imagine more functionality being added over time. For instance, how long before natural language processing becomes part of the interface?

Empowering Customers

Customer self-service once was thought to be the peak of customer empowerment, but we soon discovered that self-service systems were, in some cases, the same support systems used by agents — but possibly with nicer front-ends.

That didn’t work — at least in part because there’s a lot of knowledge capital that agents have as employees that customers, by definition, don’t. So customer self-service had a rocky start, and customers who used those systems easily could be discouraged.

Today’s self-help, exemplified by Helpshift, does away with old style self-service while really empowering customers. If an issue needs escalation, that’s a standard part of the solution. Conventional indirect service channels have been highly successful, with better than 80 percent of customers checking them before calling a service center.

That has resulted in fewer calls, but the ones that get through often are more complex and require the help of a real person. So, don’t expect this or any service automation to replace the agent.

The real benefits of the Helpshift integration will be twofold: For customers, it will provide fast answers in a channel that might have lacked them before. For vendors, it might be another way to limit the high costs of customer service. Given people’s propensity to solve their own problems, this should be a benefit to all parties.
end enn Helpshift Integrates With Salesforce

Denis%20Pombriant Helpshift Integrates With SalesforceDenis Pombriant is a well-known CRM industry researcher, strategist, writer and speaker. His new book, You Can’t Buy Customer Loyalty, But You Can Earn It, is now available on Amazon. His 2015 book, Solve for the Customer, is also available there. He can be reached at

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10 Reasons Microsoft Dynamics 365 wins out over Salesforce

CRM Blog 10 Reasons Microsoft Dynamics 365 wins out over Salesforce

When choosing a Customer Engagement solution for your organization, the options are more and more focused on two choices – Microsoft Dynamics 365 or Salesforce. Both are mature solutions and recognized market and feature leaders. Having assisted dozens of clients make the migration from Salesforce to Dynamics 365 CRM we have compiled a list of what drove these clients to their decision to switch. For us at enCloud9 these reasons point to the conclusion that Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM is the superior choice over Salesforce in Customer Engagement solutions. In this post, we will explore ten reasons Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM is the better option.

To read the 10 reasons Microsoft Dynamics 365 wins out over Salesforce click here.

After reading, if you feel that Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM is for you and are interested in getting started with Dynamics 365, contact us at enCloud9.  We have helped many businesses to implement Dynamics CRM and to migrate to Dynamics CRM from Salesforce.  We’d love to talk with you and learn about your company, their needs, and how we can help you increase your company’s productivity and efficiency. We can be contacted at our webform or call us today at 1-844-264-0729.

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CRM Software Blog | Dynamics 365

Salesforce Rejiggers Enterprise Apps Partner Plan

Salesforce on Tuesday launched the AppExchange Partner Program, or APP, for developers, independent software vendors and startups, as a replacement for its current ISV Partner Program.

salesforce Salesforce Rejiggers Enterprise Apps Partner Plan

The APP will cost much less. Its baseline percent-net-revenue (PNR) model for all new APP partners has been slashed from 25 percent to 15 percent.

Current partners will be eligible for the new PNR terms on contract renewal. Partner tiers will be eliminated.

The APP provides enablement and support based on the partner’s AppExchange Trailblazer Score, a new point-based system. The following criteria determine the score:

  • Customer success, based on AppExchange review and ratings;
  • Product success, based on security review status and adoption of the latest Salesforce technology;
  • Team readiness, calculated via Trailhead trails completed and certifications gained; and
  • Giving back through participation in Salesforce’s Pledge 1 percent program.

The new system will take effect in March 2018, Salesforce said, but existing partners will be able to view their AppExchange Trailblazer Scores by Q4, and “will begin the opportunity to increase that score leading up to March 1.”

New partners began earning points toward their score from May 1. They also will be able to view their score in Q4.

“Partnership is a two-way street, and we want to give ISVs a clear sense of how we measure success across the board,” Salesforce said in a statement provided to CRM Buyer by company rep Jessica Bryant. “We understand there are things beyond revenue that make a company successful.”

Among those things are customer success and community engagement, the company said.

New Tools for Partners

The APP includes these new on-boarding tools:

  • an onboarding wizard with automated guides and checklists, which reduces automated manual data entry to a few simple click-through screens;
  • support in payment tools for Single Euro Payments and Automatic Clearing House (ACH) in addition to credit cards;
  • API support for its Channel Order App so partners can connect their payment systems directly to Salesforce and automate their order submission process; and
  • a new AppExchange Partner Program dashboard providing real-time access to partners’ AppExchange Trailblazer Score and on-boarding checklist progress.

In addition, the APP provides partners with the latest technology tools:

  • Salesforce DX, which has features designed to help developers deliver innovative apps faster, including scratch environments, an improved integrated development environment and seamless GitHub integration; and
  • Free Heroku access, so developers, ISVs and startups can build apps in the language of their choice. Partners get a free developer org and Heroku credits that they can use towards purchasing dynos — the basic unit of scale on Heroku — and add-on services.

Fending Off the Competition

The decision to replace the ISV Partner Program with the APP resulted from Salesforce listening closely to the needs of its partner ecosystem, the company said, which consists of thousands of ISVs, more than 3,000 solutions, and more than 4 million app installs.

Lowering the PNR terms “is no small thing,” said Chris Kanaracus, managing editor of Constellation Insights at Constellation Research.

“I’ve seen reports suggesting Salesforce did this due to ‘feedback from partners’ — which, to me, is a nice way of saying that the partners were screaming for mercy,” he told CRM Buyer.

Salesforce “may have also experienced mounting resistance from would-be partners, particularly startups short on cash but eager to innovate,” Kanaracus suggested.

Salesforce is facing competition for partners as more cloud platform providers have entered the scene,” said Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research at Nucleus Research.

“Many Salesforce partners have also now built solutions for Microsoft and others,” she told CRM Buyer.

Historically, companies used to enter a partnership ecosystem for the long haul, Wettemann said, but “in a cloud environment such relationships are less sticky. Here Salesforce has introduced some significant glue.”

Salesforce Ventures, Salesforce’s corporate investment group, also announced the US$ 100 million Salesforce Platform Fund, which will invest in entrepreneurs and companies building intelligent, transformative apps and components on the Salesforce Platform.

end enn Salesforce Rejiggers Enterprise Apps Partner Plan

Richard%20Adhikari Salesforce Rejiggers Enterprise Apps Partner PlanRichard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology.
Email Richard.

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