IoT becomes Outcome Orientated with SAP Leonardo – Finally

IoT becomes Outcome Orientated with SAP Leonardo – Finally

On January 10, 2017, SAP announced a bundling of their IoT portfolio of initiatives to focus on business outcomes instead of technology while combining the set of emerging products and solutions under the brand name Leonardo – as in Leonardo Da Vinci, one of the most forward looking artists and innovators ever. This announcement substantiates SAPs commitment to invest two billion Euro in IoT over the next 5 years. The new portfolio will combine adaptive applications, big data and connectivity as packaged line-of-business solutions, covering a range of topics. It bases upon a rebranded – and repackaged(?) HANA Cloud Platform, enhanced by the micro services for machine learning that were announced earlier and which I covered here. This enhanced platform is now called SAP Cloud Platform. As per a blog post accompanying the Leonardo announcement, the high level architecture of SAPs new offering looks like below and covers, besides a set of existing applications an IoT adapter – SAP Leonardo for Edge Computing – which serves as a device independent data input layer, essentially a kind of middleware, probably built on or using HCI. a foundational layer – SAP Leonardo Foundation – which includes the IoT business services that are to be exposed, enabling rapid development of applications. This makes up the functional core. and a ‘bus’ layer – SAP Leonardo Bridge – which enables the combination of real time data with applications and processes Leonardo is accompanied by a jump-start enablement program to accompany this initiative. This program includes introductory pricing and is intended to help organizations identify and validate IoT pilots and use cases, including expert staffing...
Freshdesk acquires Pipemonk – A Snap Analysis

Freshdesk acquires Pipemonk – A Snap Analysis

Last week Freshdesk announced the acquisition of Bengaluru based SaaS data integration company Pipemonk, the seventh acquisition since mid of 2015. Pipemonk has been launched in 2014 and since has implemented integrations between many leading e-commerce-, accounting-, CRM-, Marketing-, and Billing applications, including Amazon, Shopify, Salesforce, Zoho, Hubspot, Mailchimp, and Stripe. So far Freshdesk was not on their list. Pipemonk’s promise and objective is to deliver easy-to-setup, pre-built bi-directional integrations between SaaS applications. On their web site they reported to have more than 2,000 customers acquired in the short life span, with a seed capital of only 2 million dollar. So one can say that they delivered successfully. Freshdesk itself has its roots in customer service and since increased its portfolio to include help desk (hotline), a sales application (Freshsales), chat (Freshchat) and social testimonials using acquisitions and own developments. My Take I think that this was an important step for Freshdesk. It enables Freshdesk to easily expand its reach to integrate with a raft of SaaS applications in different business domains, prebuilt or custom. Further, I was wondering for a while whether and how Freshdesk would go on integrating their own application stack, which as per my understanding so far consists of different, only lightly (if at all) integrated applications – although my understanding may be wrong. Assuming that Freshdesk intends to continue their aggressive growth trajectory with this acquisition the team also has the foundation to integrate new and newly acquired functionality fast, based upon an established architecture. Overall, congratulations to both...
AI and Machinelearning in 2017 – What to Expect

AI and Machinelearning in 2017 – What to Expect

2016 has been the year of Artificial Intelligence and machinelearning. With the year being almost at an end, let me chime in to the gang of pundits who venture into prediction land and pronounce what we get out of our glass balls. So here are my 5 plus 2 bonus ones. AI gets mainstream in Consumer Environments Alexa paved the way, the Google Assistant is on its heels, Microsoft Cortana wants to get there, too – and Apple, amazingly, is a late starter in this environment. Amazon started with a pretty smart strategy by not overselling the capabilities of its underlying AI, as Apple did with Siri, which caused some grief for Apple and some laughs for many people around. More and more helpful Alexa skills are developed and implemented that improve its usefulness. Similarly Google; they started late but are in the game now, too – following a different strategy of adding new functionality by just making it available in contrast to Amazon, who opt to have users individually enable ‘skills’. Identification of what these systems can do will be an interesting question. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg created a butler for his house, who he calls Jarvis, like the one of Tony Stark in the Ironman movies. Google recently based its translation engine on machinelearning and AI, seeing vastly improved translations. Facebook’s translations base on an AI, too – although this one still seems to have a lot to learn. Not to mention all the countless other consumer services Google has, that utilize machinelearning and AIs in the background. Two of the main developments to look at here are...
Why the Phone is Dead – And How to Accommodate for It

Why the Phone is Dead – And How to Accommodate for It

As our (digital) lives circle more and more around mobility, and consequently the mobile phone, the questions around communication-, and in particular around service- and support channels become more interesting by the day. Facebook triggered what can be dubbed a little revolution when opening its messaging platform for chatbots in 2016; meanwhile even Skype offers chatbot support. It is safe to say that chatbots have been one of the main technology trends in 2016. Slack, originally released only mid of 2013, has become one of the main collaboration- and communications platforms. Artificial Intelligence and machine learning in various flavors and strengths have become part of many business applications throughout business’s value chains. And the combination of conversational user interfaces and AI/machine learning has the potential of changing the way people interact with businesses (and data, for what it is worth in this context). Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, to name only the big players, offer voice driven digital assistants, which already now provide a hint of new engagement models between customers and companies. Intelligent, conversational systems are what we are about to see, first predominantly using chat-like user interfaces, then also merging voice into the mix, first to cover isolated situations, then increasingly for more complicated ones. Some Data Points Business Insider reported in September that the usage of chat apps has surpassed the usage of social media, measured in monthly active users. Additionally, Google found already in 2014 that 59 per cent of smartphone owners globally install games within a week of getting the phones, which is a higher percentage than any other type of app. On the...
Kustomer – A New Kid on the Customer Service Block

Kustomer – A New Kid on the Customer Service Block

Sparked by an article by Bob Thompson, titled You had me at “Treat Customers as People” about Kustomer, a new kid on the customer service block, I ventured to reach out to founder Brad Birnbaum and his team to get some more information. After all the customer quadrant of software is quite crowded, and a new company needs to offer good ideas to keep up and go beyond the incumbents, most of them being young companies as well. One of the basic questions that I had was: Do we need another customer service solution? After all, G2Crowd already lists 19 in their Help Desk grid; and these are only the ones that made it into the grid. Overall G2Crowd counts 78 solutions, excluding Kustomer. And quite some of them are quite strong. Figure 1: G2Crowd Grid for Help Desks as of December 2016 Brad and his team certainly seem to be of the opinion that there is an unmet need; as are their investors who brought in $ 12.5 million into seed- and series A funding in less than a year. The founders bring experience that dates back to 1996 and includes the success of Assistly, now desk.com, which is part of Salesforce. Another question is: How does Kustomer want to differentiate itself or, which issue do they solve that the other companies do not yet solve. Quite simply put, Kustomer claims that there are too many unconnected point solutions that customers – and hence employees – need to deal with. This issue gets addressed by the Kustomer platform that acts as an integration hub and connects customer service...
Forrester Wave CRM Suites for Mid-Sized Businesses – What it Means

Forrester Wave CRM Suites for Mid-Sized Businesses – What it Means

Finally, the much-anticipated Forrester Wave on CRM Suites for Mid-Sized Businesses Q4/2016 has been published by Kate Leggett and her team at Forrester Research. Besides the usual suspects Oracle, Microsoft, Salesforce, and SAP it covers 7 more vendors that fulfil Forrester’s definition of a CRM suite for mid-sized businesses. This definition roughly is To be considered a suite the software covers at least three of the CRM disciplines Marketing Sales Force Automation Customer Service Field Service E-Commerce Customer Analytics There needs to be prebuilt integration between the products, if they are not within the same system; integration shall be via open standards to allow for integrating other applications. The software needs to be targeted at organizations between 250 and 999 employees. Multiple industries need to be targeted. Of course, the solutions need to be in active use and there need to be customer references. The Forrester Wave has some interesting results, some confirming what other people see, too, others somewhat surprising. Let me start with the confirmations, continue with bits that surprised me, and close with an SAP specific view. The Confirmations Of course, we are talking cloud – cloud and nothing else. As can be expected all vendors strive to deliver a toolset that helps their customers to deliver consistent customer experiences. Now I, and others, would argue that the experience is largely in the realm of the end customer and the users and that there is nothing like a ‘system of experience’. Delivering consistent experiences encompasses far more than a CRM suite. But then it is far easier (and sexier) to talk about delivering experiences than about...