Tag Archives: Salesforce

Did Salesforce Need to Buy Datorama?

Salesforce on Monday announced a definitive agreement to acquire the marketing analytics company Datorama.

The acquisition will give Marketing Cloud a power boost by expanding data integration and intelligence, according to Salesforce.

The newly acquired tech will give marketers the ability to unlock insights across channels and data sources, providing a unified view that can help companies make smarter decisions across the entire customer journey and optimize engagement at scale, it added.

In response to that, you might be tempted to wonder, as I did, “Isn’t that what the Salesforce Analytics cloud was for?” or “What happened to Einstein?” You’d be right to ask, of course, but sooner or later it would dawn on you that the reasons companies buy other companies can vary, especially within the lifecycles of individual companies.

Reasons to Buy

Early in a company’s life, it’s not unusual to see acquisitions that essentially perform the functions of research and development — but at warp speed. After all, R&D is hard and risky, and if you see another company with something you like it can be easier to purchase the whole entity rather than spend what could be years developing what you see. Further, if the cost is some small multiple of what you envision spending, well, time is money.

Another good reason to acquire a company is simply for competitive advantage. Buying a useful technology before a competitor can will help keep your business booming while at the same time robbing the competition of some oxygen.

A third reason for making a purchase is “synergy” — that vague term that launches a thousand ships per year, half of which never return. Synergy is risky, because it depends on good analysis of a lot of subjective things like expertise, assets, customer base and good will. Done well, an acquisition like this can help drive new growth, especially if the acquired customer base needs some of what the acquiring company does well.

Emphasis on Service

From the outside, it seems that Salesforce might be buying Datorama for a combination of reasons, but probably not technology per se at this point.

Datorama has 16 offices around the world and 3,000 customers, many of which are name brands. That combination alone makes it attractive to Salesforce. Add to that Datorama’s expertise in marketing analysis and you can see a bigger fit than one simply concerned with technology.

Also, my hunch is that delivering Datorama’s expertise is highly services-oriented, which can explain why there are so many offices for a relatively small customer base. The base might be small, but the kinds of customers this company goes after expect on-the-spot assistance, especially when rolling out new programs, for instance.

My Take

Salesforce leads in virtually every CRM category and has a serious platform business that large numbers of customers increasingly have been relying on to build and maintain bespoke apps for unique business needs.

It’s natural, after all that product success, that the company continue to build out its services by offering on-site support for enterprise businesses taking the plunge into digital disruption. A judicious amount of services will drive further uptake of products.

So, it strikes me that acquiring Datorama, with its robust marketing analytics technology, makes a great deal of sense for Salesforce at this point in its evolution.

Another Salesforce initiative continues to be promoting its industry, or vertical, apps as it tries to gain market share in places where a general-purpose product, even one with a flexible platform beneath it, will have a hard time.

Time will tell, but this looks like a possible play to quickly deploy marketing analytics for specialized markets. If so, then the company is buying expertise right when it needs it.
end enn Did Salesforce Need to Buy Datorama?


Denis%20Pombriant Did Salesforce Need to Buy Datorama?
Denis Pombriant is a well-known CRM industry analyst, 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.
Email Denis.

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CRM Buyer

Salesforce Connects With Marketing

A good way to understand what Salesforce articulated at Connections 2018 is to recall the direction it set a few years ago, when CEO Marc Benioff said the company would develop most apps for the small screen first. Translated, that was a concession that handheld devices — phones and tablets — would become the primary devices we’d all use in business. Lots of software vendors took the same position, though arguably few did it as fast.

So far that’s been a good bet, because while this piece is being written on a conventional laptop, it’s highly likely that people will read it on a variety of devices and in a plethora of locations tethered to the Internet through WiFi.

Fast-forward and the device is the primary computing platform, and the next big hurdle to overcome — in the front office at least — is delivering a consistent customer experience across the platforms, including relevant and timely offers and experiences.

Some might have thought the job was done when apps crossed hardware boundaries, but when that happened a new set of expectations from customers — that they could cross boundaries and that their vendors would keep up with them — came into focus. Supply creates its own demand, they say.

Billions of Transactions

It turns out that’s not easy, because along with multiple devices to account for, there’s also the issue of many apps contributing to sussing out just what the customer wants and how to deliver it. The problem is like figuring out the next-best offer, plus understanding who the customer is, and what the customer has done previously with a vendor, and then some.

It’s “real-time personalization at scale for every customer at every vendor site,” Salesforce President Bret Taylor explained in a keynote. In other words, don’t forget this is cloud computing, so the system is using the cloud platform to do all this not just for a single vendor but for all vendors and their customers.

Today, that literally means billions of transactions. In a day, the system processes 2 billion Einstein predictions, sends 15 billion emails, logs 2 million leads, and much more, according to one Connections presentation.

You also could look at it as solving Rubik’s Cube or, more likely, solving simultaneous equations. Essentially this means solving everything at once rather than holding everything constant and solving for one variable at a time the way we do in a classical science experiment.

If you think I am perseverating, think again. This is a measure of where the technology world is today. We’ve done the easy stuff to capture and retrieve data. We’ve figured out how to extract significant information from all of it, too. Now we are trying to attack a pool of data that makes and informs other data in real time.

News From the Stage

That’s why I think Connections 2018 was important. Here are some of the announcements that support my thinking:

  • Commerce Cloud enhancements give B2B customers consumer-like shopping experiences. This is in line with the idea of giving people the same kinds of experiences at work that they have in their personal lives.
  • Marketing Cloud Interaction Studio might be the trickiest thing to get right, and in some ways may be the key to the whole show. Marketing Cloud helps employees to analyze and manage customer experiences with context (who is the customer, what’s unique about the customer, what can we recommend?) across a brand’s owned online and offline channels.
  • Service for Commerce, or adding a service element to a commerce interaction when needed. The demo showed a customer buying shoes and then going back into the event to change the delivery address. It was all mediated by a bot too.
  • Salesforce next month will deliver to beta an integration with Google Analytics 360 that will enable marketers to create audiences in Analytics 360 and then activate those audiences for engagement within Marketing Cloud.
  • Finally, Commerce Journeys will empower marketers and merchandisers to trigger transactional and behavioral journeys based on customer actions, like abandoning a shopping cart, confirming an account or making a purchase.

My Two Bits

Marketing is arguably the last frontier in CRM, because sales and service apps have been well articulated by now. Nonetheless, we should add that the marketing announcements coming out of Chicago this week blur the lines between the stovepipes very nicely. Those lines — and other lines, like those between front and back office and B2B and B2C processes — are evaporating.

Supporting the move is a Swiss Army knife technology stack that delivers analytics and machine learning to business processes that take us well beyond simple next-best offer approaches. Bots have not replaced people yet, but they are being creatively inserted into niches that are too low-volume or too expensive to insert people. The result is a far better customer experience.

A few years ago I wrote a book, Solve for the Customer,” after examining early online apps for self-service and commerce, and finding their processes woefully inadequate, precisely because there was little or no intelligence built into them. Customers were assumed to be able to use those systems because they were “intuitive,” which only meant that they were available on handheld devices, unfortunately.

Customers were so enraged by those systems that some of them took to the Internet to build blogs and sites castigating vendors. Those sites are still out there, and you can find them by searching a vendor’s name and adding the word “sucks.”

Many of those sites haven’t been maintained in years, though, and there’s no better proof for the efficacy of the revolution in commerce and marketing that is effectively and efficiently leveraging data than that.
end enn Salesforce Connects With Marketing

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.


Denis%20Pombriant Salesforce Connects With Marketing
Denis Pombriant is a well-known CRM industry analyst, 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.
Email Denis.

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CRM Buyer

Salesforce Adds Google Analytics Capabilities to Marketing Cloud

Salesforce on Wednesday announced integrations between its Marketing Cloud and Google Analytics 360 that equip marketers with a broad range of new capabilities, including the following:

  • View consumer insights from both Marketing Cloud and Analytics 360 in a single journey analytics dashboard to better analyze cross-channel engagement. For example, if marketers see a high rate of browse abandons — customers who click through an email offering but don’t buy — they can create a tailored journey to re-engage them.
  • Create audiences in Google Analytics 360 based on their interactions with Marketing Cloud campaigns and deliver Web pages with customized content to those audiences when they click on a link in an email offer.
  • Gain a better understanding of how their content influences transactions, through the availability of Marketing Cloud data in Analytics 360. This lets them unearth macro trends in customer journeys and make strategy tweaks to maximize conversions.
  • Quickly authenticate to Analytics 360 from the Marketing Cloud, and tag each email with the Analytics 360 campaign parameters without having to seek help from IT.

85389 620x325 Salesforce Adds Google Analytics Capabilities to Marketing Cloud

Visualize Google Analytics 360 Web interaction data directly in your Salesforce Marketing Cloud dashboard.


In Q3, a beta rollout will let marketers create audiences in Analytics 360 — such as category buyers, loyalty members and abandoned browsers — and activate them for engagement within Marketing Cloud by, for example, adding a specific audience to a re-engagement journey.

“This is about deeper integrations,” noted Ray Wang, principal analyst of Constellation Research.

“As Adobe has gotten closer to Microsoft, Salesforce has done the same with Google,” he told CRM Buyer. “Adobe does a great job with their analytics and machine learning portfolio.”

What Worked and Why

The integrations are part of a strategic alliance between Salesforce and Google. Salesforce has named G Suite as its preferred email and productivity provider, and plans to use the Google Cloud Platform for its core services in connection with its international infrastructure expansion.

Viewing consumer insights from Marketing Cloud and Analytics 360 in one dashboard is important because “marketers want to know what campaigns worked and why,” Wang said. “They want to know what their customers need and how to predict demand or interest.”

Being able to leverage information about responses in a campaign to deliver tailored Web content “helps in reducing useless interactions and understanding if you have enough context to be relevant,” he pointed out. “The goal is to leverage as many channels as you can at the right time in the right manner.”

All About Personalization

The new integrations between Google and Salesforce Marketiong Cloud “will streamline the process for marketers and make it easier to provide real personalization at scale in customer engagement,” said Rebecca Wettemann, VP of research at Nucleus Research.

“Marketers have been talking about personalization for a long time, but this is really about bringing the data at scale so they can truly execute on it,” she told CRM Buyer.

Adobe earlier this year enhanced its Adobe Target personalization tools. Last month, it announced plans to open up its data science and algorithmic optimization capabilities in Adobe Target, along with other new capabilities.

PegaSystems last week rolled out Pega Infinity, its next-generation digital transformation platform.

Pega Infinity builds on “the continued innovation of our AI-driven marketing capabilities,” remarked Jeff Nicholson, VP of CRM product marketing at Pegasystems, giving clients “the clearest path … to make the long-discussed vision of one-to-one engagement a reality.”

Marketing tech has gone far beyond “simple measurement of campaign effectiveness,” Nicholson told CRM Buyer. “The key to the new generation of tools is not to provide just information to the marketer, but actual AI-powered real-time insight and guidance.”

The aim is for companies to convert “nuggets of insights into actual action and improve their customers’ experience, along with their bottom line,” he observed.

“By improving contextual relevancy, customers and clients will more than likely engage,” said Constellation’s Wang. “If they engage more, you’ll more likely convert. That’s the whole point here.”
end enn Salesforce Adds Google Analytics Capabilities to Marketing Cloud


Richard%20Adhikari Salesforce Adds Google Analytics Capabilities to Marketing Cloud
Richard 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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The Better CRM: Microsoft Dynamics 365 or Salesforce? Forrester study says Dynamics 365.

The world of CRM is populated with all kinds of “solutions.” We use quotation marks here before many of these so-called customer relationship management “solutions” are anything but.

That said, there are only two real options for the vast majority of businesses: Salesforce or Dynamics 365. They’re both industry leaders, and they both have their fair share of solid reviews.

So, which should you choose?

The bottom line? There’s no contest: Microsoft Dynamics 365 trounces Salesforce.

Don’t take our word for it. In the recent Forrester Wave report Microsoft is ahead in Salesforce.com’s traditional sales software.  Forrester concluded – “Microsoft is a best fit for companies looking to capitalize on the productivity gains of their other Microsoft cloud investments…” – which is fairly obvious. But interestingly, they will go on to say: “…and those companies that are …looking to disrupt their peers with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning.” (CLICK HERE to see more.)

 The Better CRM: Microsoft Dynamics 365 or Salesforce? Forrester study says Dynamics 365.

Why Dynamics 365 is the Best Option
Salesforce has spent an awful lot of money over the years making themselves out to be the best CRM out there. They have millions of users, and they paint themselves as the obvious choice. But, when you’re picking a CRM that you plan to use for years to come, the question is: how will this CRM develop in future years?

When it comes to the future, we’re convinced that Dynamics 365 is the way to go. That’s why we’ve helped one client after another make the switch from Salesforce to Microsoft Dynamics.

If you’re not yet convinced, we don’t blame you. Salesforce might still seem like an attractive option. That’s why we’ve put together this list of reasons why Dynamics is the way to go. Keep reading to learn more.

The Cost Factor
Let’s be frank here: Salesforce is expensive. It’s literally almost twice as expensive as Dynamics 365. Plus, Dynamics actually offers more features than Salesforce does. That’s what we call value!

On top of this, Salesforce has all sorts of expensive and non-inclusive “add-on options.” A good example of this is when it come to licensing. With Microsoft Dynamics 365, you get access to Customization, Marketing, Sales, and Service, all under one license. If you go with Salesforce, you have to pay for each of those service individually. What a headache!

Integration
There are a lot of reasons that going with Dynamics 365 makes sense. Out of all of them, though, integration might be the most important. At the end of the day, Dynamics integrates better with your organization’s other technologies than Salesforce does. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about Office 365, Outlook (Exchange), SharePoint, or Yammer. Regardless, Dynamics 365 integrates with these other programs at the click of a button.

How does this actually look when it comes to your day-to-day operations? Take email tracking as an example. You can technically track emails with both Dynamics and Salesforce. But, if you’re using Dynamics 365, you can actually run the program inside of Outlook thanks to the Microsoft integration. Your sales team will save a massive amount of time thanks to these kinds of integrations.

Easy to Use
When selecting a company-wide CRM, it’s important to prioritize ease of use. You want all of your team members to actually use the software. Using Dynamics 365 couldn’t be easier: it’s incredibly similar to other Microsoft software that they’re already familiar with. If they’re already using Word, Excel, or Outlook, then transitioning them to Dynamics will be easy.

Ownership of Data
You may not have ever considered it, but: who owns your CRM data? Believe it or not, Salesforce actually makes you pay an additional fee if you want to backup your data and access their API. On the flip side, Dynamics 365 offers free API access as part of your subscription. Plus, your CRM information is available anytime.

Software Development
Dynamics 365 is particularly universal in that it makes use of common programming languages like Java, HTML, and the .NET framework. Meanwhile, Salesforce uses its own programming language called Apex. It’s easy for Dynamics 365 companies to customize their software solution, but Apex customization is quite limited. Plus, it’s not easy to find a developer that can actually work with Apex.

If you ever need to transition your Dynamics 365 system from external to in-house hosted, doing so is simple. It’s possible to do this with Salesforce, too, but it’s both expensive and challenging. Before you can even get started, you’ll need to sign up for the unlimited version of Salesforce. Is it just us, or are we really racking up costs with Salesforce?

Extra Fees
Speaking up racking up fees, Salesforce is known for its hidden costs. Its add-on features can get expensive, but many of them are built-in to Dynamics 365. And, if they aren’t included with Dynamics, adding them is generally cheaper than with Salesforce. A quick example: while Dynamics storage is about $ 10 per GB, comparable storage with Salesforce can run as much as $ 250!

Deployment
One of the great things about Dynamics is how easy it is to deploy. You can set it up as SaaS, private hosting, via an on-premise option. Salesforce doesn’t offer this flexibility: cloud hosting is the only option available to you. Some organizations simply can’t take the cloud hosting risk.

Visualizing Data
In the modern tech-centered world, data drives the vast majority of company decisions. With this in mind, it’s astonishing that Salesforce users have to manually refresh their dashboards in order to see up-to-date data, while Dynamics 365 CRM dashboards are updated in real time. Plus, you can opt to include Power BI reports in Dynamics 365 if your organization uses them.

Microsoft Dynamics 365: The Obvious Choice

There’s no question that Dynamics 365 is the way to go. As a CRM solution, it’s custom tailored to fit your needs as they grow and evolve.

Are you ready to get started with Microsoft Dynamics 365? If so, JourneyTEAM is here to help. We’ve worked with countless businesses to help them transition from Salesforce to Dynamics, and we’re ready to help you do the same! Visit our website at journeyteam.com, or call us at 800.439.6456 to get started. Click here to see more about this article.

—————-

Article by: Dave Bollard – National Director of Marketing

JourneyTEAM is an award-winning consulting firm with proven technology and measurable results. They take Microsoft products; Dynamics 365, SharePoint intranet, Office 365, Azure, CRM, GP, NAV, SL, AX, and modify them to work for you. The team has expert level, Microsoft Gold certified consultants that dive deep into the dynamics of your organization and solve complex issues. They have solutions for sales, marketing, productivity, collaboration, analytics, accounting, security and more. www.jourenyteam.com

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CRM Software Blog | Dynamics 365

Salesforce Einstein now powers over 1 billion AI predictions per day

 Salesforce Einstein now powers over 1 billion AI predictions per day

Salesforce announced today that the company is now delivering more than 1 billion AI-driven predictions to its customers every day. Those predictions are powered by the company’s Einstein-branded capabilities, which include sales and service forecasting.

It’s a major milestone for both Salesforce and Einstein, showing the potential of artificial intelligence’s interaction with business users and the appetite for intelligent predictions based on business data. Salesforce launched the platform in the fall of 2016 with a great deal of fanfare from CEO Marc Benioff. Since then, the company has been building on its AI offerings.

What’s not clear from this announcement is how distributed these predictions are across Salesforce’s user base. A spokesperson for the company refused to answer questions about how many customers are using Einstein, or roughly how broadly it’s being used. Einstein features can cost extra to implement above a company’s existing subscription to Salesforce’s software-as-a-service offerings, which can stymie adoption.

Even without that clarity, this is good news for Salesforce as it vies with a host of other companies to dominate the business software market. AI fever has gripped the field of enterprise SaaS, with companies like Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP all touting their own AI capabilities, with varying degrees of maturity. To compete, Salesforce unveiled a series of major improvements at its Dreamforce conference last year, such as the ability to create custom predictions.

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Big Data – VentureBeat

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.

what’s hot on zdnet

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
denis.pombriant@beagleresearch.com.

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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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