thomas.wieberneit@aheadcrm.co.nz
How to make customers for life

How to make customers for life

On November 10, 2022, SugarCRM held its annual analyst day in the beautiful Chaminade resort in Santa Cruz. In attendance was an elusive crowd of 14 analysts and six customer representatives, along with the SugarCRM executives. We gathered to inform ourselves about what is going on, what will be going on, and of course, to listen and talk to customers about how they solve their business challenges with SugarCRM. All of this in plenum- and individual formats along with good space for informal talks. The event Apart from the very important social activities that enabled SugarCRM executives, customers, partner representatives and analysts to mingle and talk, the event consisted of several informative briefings that ranged from strategy and roadmap sessions across the platform to all-important customer interviews. The last session was an open question and answer with the executive team. The customers in attendance have been very diverse, including (for profit) social business, a jet charter and service business, educational, medical businesses, and a governmental organization. Some of them are fairly new Sugar customers, some of them are with SugarCRM for a long time. What all of them have in common is that they have non-run-off-the-mill businesses and processes and that they use at least two of SugarCRM’s solutions. Some key insights that they shared were that they are often able to adapt their systems to changing needs by themselves and that, whenever they needed the support, it was readily available. Two of the stories brought very notable points. One business explained its ability to merge twenty plus acquisitions in less than two years into their system, so that...
How Zendesk Intelligent Triage steps up the customer service game

How Zendesk Intelligent Triage steps up the customer service game

The News On September 14, 2022, Zendesk announced the release of its new customer sentiment and intent functionality: Intelligent Triage and Smart Assist. These new AI based solutions shall “enable businesses to triage customer support requests automatically and access valuable data at scale. Intelligent Triage and Smart Assist are the next step in Zendesk’s vision to create accessible CX AI for companies of all sizes. The technology uses proprietary industry expertise and insights from trillions of customer data points and applies a vertical lens. This creates models custom to each business capable of identifying the intent, language and sentiment of each customer interaction. This unique approach to applying machine learning creates more personalized and informed interactions to better serve customers. For example, specific inquiries, such as “I’m having problems with payment”, can be automatically sent to an agent who is equipped to handle billing for a quicker resolution, while inquiries that include language written in all capital letters or in a sarcastic way will indicate a highly negative sentiment and be routed to the top of the queue. The new capabilities include: Instantly route and prioritize revenue drivers, ensuring agents are working on business-critical requestsAnalyze distribution of requests so businesses can better plan operations, collaborate across departments and identify improvement opportunities supported by data for more efficient CX operationsAutomatically guide agents on how to best resolve a customer’s issue in real-time, understand context, recommend solutions, and improve coaching and training with valuable insightsContinuously boost accuracy as the AI solutions receive feedback on predictions and recommendationsDetect sensitive information automatically to meet compliance and security needs or extract confidential data like...
Don’t mess with Zoho – A Zohoday 2022 recap

Don’t mess with Zoho – A Zohoday 2022 recap

After spending two days in Austin, TX, attending the ZohoDay 2022, it is time for a little recap of this interesting event.  We were 99 analysts and 24 customers and plenty of knowledgeable Zoho personnel. The incredible Sandra Lo and her team organized the event around open and transparent communication. So, there was plenty of access for us to customers and the Zoho team.  Which was very important, as already the keynote session by founder and CEO Sridhar Vembu was quite hardcore. Vembu talked about how strategy and culture need to be one, how culture needs to be the root of strategy, and how Zoho implements this. The Zoho strategy lies on three main pillars Transnational localism, a unique concept that in its essence is about embedding a company into a local community by not only selling into it but also by investing into it. This investment is e.g., by offering high paying jobs in areas where these are scarce, by fostering local education, but also by own local sourcing including local materials and using sustainable practices when building. That way, these communities become self-reliant. Zoho first introduced this concept in 2020. In essence, Zoho sets up shop outside of centers, in rural areas, in a hub and spoke model. Tightly integrated products that together form a powerful platform to run a complete business. This is counterintuitive to the thought of apps using a common platform to deliver their services.Privacy as a core part of all applications and services, born out of the idea that the need for free flow of data needs to be governed by privacy.  This is a great...
SAP reports its Q2 2022 – A snap Analysis

SAP reports its Q2 2022 – A snap Analysis

The News On July 21, 2022, SAP reported its numbers for the second quarter 2022 and the first half of the business year 2022. In contrast to the last times, I’d like to cover this in written form, as this one is quite interesting and probably takes a bit longer than 5 to 10 minutes. SAP changed the report structure to reflect the common cloud service terminology. It is reporting IaaS, PaaS and SaaS now. The overall cloud revenues increased by 34 percent, with some tailwind by the current weakness of the Euro. The cloud backlog surpassed € 10 bn for the first time, growing at the same pace. S/4HANA Cloud revenue is up by 84 percent, with the backlog even growing at 100 percent. This revenue growth is consistent across the reporting regions. For the first time, SAP broke out PaaS revenues, which came in at € 389 million, up 49 percent yea over year.  Not surprisingly, the profitability went down, which is attributable to loss of business due to the war in Ukraine and unfavorable conditions for SAP Ventures. The bigger Picture The enterprise cloud market is extremely contested. It is a saturated market that is dominated by few vendors that are able to support important parts of or even the complete business value chain. The challenge facing all these vendors is the necessity to scale down into the mid and lower mid-market. This, however, is a region that is covered by smaller vendors with similar aspirations, e.g., Creatio, Freshworks, Hubspot, Odoo, Pega, ServiceNow, SugarCRM, Zendesk or Zoho, to name but a few.  The big vendors in this Clash...
Zoho Marketing Plus – How to Change the Marketing Game

Zoho Marketing Plus – How to Change the Marketing Game

 The News On May 10, 2022, Zoho released Zoho Marketing Plus, its suite of marketing solutions. You can read the complete press release here. The suite combines multiple Zoho applications including Campaigns, Social, Webinar, Analytics, Marketing Automation, Workdrive, PageSense, Survey, and Backstage. It shall provide digital marketers with a unified platform of integrated capabilities that help them achieve their objectives more easily through a combination of simplification, integration and embedded collaboration capabilities. Zoho Marketing Plus brings together marketing activities throughout the whole campaign life cycle from ideation through creation, execution to measurement. This allows to manage campaigns and provides the whole marketing organization with a single shared view of information. “Consumers and digital marketing continue to evolve at warp-speed, and marketers are struggling to keep up. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to properly manage multiple campaigns, channels, customer profiles, data, and ROI,” said Mani Vembu, Chief Operating Officer at Zoho. “The complexity of data and personalization at-scale only raises pressure on marketers and CMOs to deliver effective campaigns and revenue. By eliminating redundancies and confusion arising from multiple siloed solutions, Zoho Marketing Plus maximizes productivity and teamwork, allowing marketers to stay nimble and collaborative amid evolving customer needs. When marketers aren’t bogged down by operations, they can deliver creative campaigns that promote meaningful relationships between the brand and customers.“ With Zoho Marketing Plus, Zoho addresses mid-market companies with around 250 to 1,000 employees and a structured marketing organization with a progressively thinking leadership. Early customers show themselves impressed with the breadth of the functionality as well as the support for the end-to-end support that is offered by the platform. Says...
Zoho Creator – the next wave of collaborative no-code/low-code development

Zoho Creator – the next wave of collaborative no-code/low-code development

The News On March 3, 2022 Zoho released the new version of its Creator no-code/low-code platform. It offers a unified development platform to empower both IT teams and business users.  The new release is targeted at building end-to-end solutions in an easy way. It combines integration, process automation and analytics/business intelligence with the ability to build applications and offers application management capabilities needed to manage security, compliance and governance. Along with the built-in collaboration features it allows for a tight collaboration between business- and IT users. The bigger picture About a year ago I wrote a first article on no-code and low-code platforms, based upon the realization that the ongoing digitalization and necessity for business agility in fast changing environments require more than traditional developer support. At that time I cautioned that business users should not just be allowed to do everything without governance in order to avoid another “Lotus Notes moment”. Since then the world moved on.  No-code and low-code have become an indispensable part of the business applications world. They are critical to the fast adaptation of business applications and process automation across business applications. This is a task that is traditionally handled by IT departments. These, however, are regularly understaffed to be able to fulfil all the operations and enhancements demands that are on their desks.  To achieve this, no code and low code platforms need to support both, IT departments as well as the business departments. This means that they need to straddle a considerable gap. Typically, no-code and low-code platforms concentrated on either business users or IT departments. The latter are not really useful for IT departments as they...