Clash of Titans – Platform Play

Clash of Titans – Platform Play

A lot has evolved since my Clash of the Titans post that looked into how the big 4.5 (Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, SAP, and Adobe) and others are positioning themselves and their platform in the greater CRM arena. First, the commoditization of the business application has accelerated and the vendors’ focus on the underlying platform has increased. CRM, and enterprise software in general, has always been a platform play although this has not always been recognized and sometimes even negated. The obvious reason for it being a platform play is that the creation of positive customer and user experiences need a consistent technical platform. Or else we are ending up in engagements that are fragmented across interactions. This results in inconsistent and poor experiences. So far, so well known. A bit less obvious is the fact that there will be only few dominant platforms. Vendors, who want to become and stay successful on a grand scale need to be one of these few platform providers and attract partners and customers. This is the reason why I consult my customers that one of the very first IT strategy decisions that they need to take is the platform decision. As the article got a little longer this time and as I do not tend to write articles that are as long as dear friend Paull Greenberg’s (maybe I should consider to?) this revisit of the Clash of the Titans will become a two or three piece series, first covering the framework I want to use, the very definition of what I talk of when saying that CRM is a ‘platform play’. The...
SAP C/4HANA! Explosive? Some Questions and some Answers

SAP C/4HANA! Explosive? Some Questions and some Answers

During SAPPhire 2018 SAP announced C/4HANA with quite a fanfare. I covered and analysed this announcement in my post SAPPHIRE 2018 – The Return of the Suite. Sure, C/4HANA marks the return of SAP to the suite, just in another shape than previously known. Instead of combining the pillars of CRM: Marketing, Sales, and Service in one monolithic application it integrates the corresponding clouds into a suite by means of an infrastructure-, service-, and integration layer called SAP Cloud Platform. The SAP Cloud Platform also provides services like IoT and Blockchain, besides numerous additional and less sexy, but necessary ones. The SAP Cloud Platform also enables extensibility of the clouds, be it in-app (‘in cloud’) or as external extensions via the Extension Framework and the (upcoming) Microservices Ecosystem. The SAP Cloud Platform, as well as a number of in-cloud features enable AI and machine learning, exposed as intelligence that is embedded into the various clouds. Plus, the SAP Analytics Cloud – which is not explicitly mentioned as a part of C/4HANA, provides analytics abilities. Fiori as a user interface metaphor enables a consistent user experience. A chat bot infrastructure and the ability to run on all relevant screen sizes with one UI architecture pave the way towards keeping the user experience consistent. The addition of the SAP Customer Data Cloud hints into the direction of providing a customer data hub as a single version of the truth of things customer. As such, the SAP Cloud Platform is a modern reincarnation of SAP Netweaver. Reincarnation, not repetition, as it is ways closer to Hasso Plattner’s ideal of recombining business processes...
Einstein smartens up Salesforce Service Cloud

Einstein smartens up Salesforce Service Cloud

The News A few days ago Salesforce released a new iteration of its Service Cloud Einstein after infusing its artificial intelligence, Einstein, into the Service Cloud in February 2017. This release comes with three major enhancements to the Service Cloud: Einstein Bots for Service Lightning Flow for Service Einstein Next Best Action Einstein Bots for Service is providing the ability to easily configure chat bots that enable instant response to customers and a seamless handoff to customer service agents. Lightning Flow for Service gives companies the ability to automate processes with contextual, step-by-step guidance for fulfilling requests and resolving issues, using a graphical interface. Einstein Next Best Action is delivering intelligent recommendations and offers on any channel to increase customer satisfaction. While Einstein Bots for Service and Lightning Flow for Service are in General Availability since July 11, 2018, Einstein Next Best Actions will remain in a Pilot phase for some more time. The reason for this is that Salesforce wants to be double sure that this functionality is reliable. It needs a good amount of data and a good training set. And Salesforce cannot look into the data. The bots themselves do need to get trained and, once active, take feedback from the service agents. All three features work hand-in-hand. Salesforce uses a credit card scenario to make this point. When a customer goes to the web site for help the chat bot takes over and gathers the necessary contextual information and then escalates the issue to a customer service agent who continues the chat at the position the chat bot exited with all information available. A Lightning...
Here’s why Nimble is so successful

Here’s why Nimble is so successful

The News In the past few weeks there have been two interesting announcements by Nimble. First, on June 14, 2018 Nimble announced a partnership with Velosio, one of the largest Microsoft Dynamics VARs in North America. Velosio and Nimble entered into a global reseller agreement. As a part of this agreement Velosio’s 200 channel partners can purchase, manage and resell Nimble CRM bundled with Microsoft Office 365. Velosio is the latest prominent name in among the growing number of Microsoft/Nimble partners. One week later, on June 20, 2018 Nimble announced a revamp of its application homepage with the Nimble Today page. This dashboard page gives the user a clear and customizable view of their sales pipeline, calendar appointments, tasks and social signals with relationship insights directly embedded in the widgets. As a start the page offers 6 widgets Deals Events Tasks Highlighted Contacts Signals Stage Funnel that can get freely rearranged. The Today Page is also available for iOS users now and will be available to Android users soon. The Bigger Picture The enterprise CRM market is saturated. There are at least 4 tier one players for every major CRM function that are competing for supremacy. Customer demands have evolved from requiring transactional applications to getting high value solutions that allow the delivery of high-end customer (and user) experience. The market itself has morphed from a suite market to a best-of-breed application market, and now to a platform and ecosystem market. In this market it is important to excel in two, maybe three areas: Platform as a Service (PaaS). The platform itself must support current and future technologies that...
The future of CRM – as seen by Salesforce

The future of CRM – as seen by Salesforce

The News On June 13, 2018, during its annual Connections event, Salesforce announced a number of additions to their marketing cloud and their ecommerce and service clouds. The announcement goes into three main directions: Based on the strategic alliance that Google and Salesforce entered into in November 2017, the Salesforce Marketing Cloud will get a deeper integration with Google Analytics 360. Starting now it will be possible to combine Google Analytics 360 data and Salesforce Marketing Cloud data in a single customer journey dashboard within Marketing Cloud. Conversely, Google Analytics 360 can now leverage Marketing Cloud campaign data to better deliver targeted content to consumers. Both integrations enable a deeper understanding of customers and their behaviours. Later, in Q3 this year, Salesforce plans to offer a beta release of an integration that enables marketers to create audiences in Analytics 360 and to activate these audiences for engagement within the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Marketing Cloud Einstein gets a segmentation and a split capability. The segmentation ability enables the uncovering of patterns in consumer behaviour and the discovery of new audiences that then can get reached with personalized messages. The split capability enables marketers to create unique personalized journeys for each customer with simple means, getting an optimized path for them, based on the marketing objective. There are a number of innovations to enable engagement across touch points. First, Salesforce announces their B2B ecommerce ability, second the new interaction studio that enables the creation of contextually relevant engagements and experiences in real time and third, the broadened availability of Service Cloud LiveMessage in 17 more countries. Live Message enables companies to...
SAPPHIRE 2018 – The Return of the Suite

SAPPHIRE 2018 – The Return of the Suite

SAPPHIRE 2018. In an Orlando convention center, far away from Walldorf SAP holds its annual conference, boldly going where no one has gone before. But enough of this poor allegation to Star Trek although it reasonably sets the tone. The first two days gave a deep view into the company strategy. Condensed into two press releases the company laid out its vision of the future of CRM and intelligent enterprises. And, doing so, shot a few broadsides at the competition, especially Salesforce. The News “The legacy CRM systems are all about sales; SAP C/4HANA is all about the consumer … when you connect all SAP applications together in an intelligent cloud suite, the demand chain directly fuels the behaviors of the supply chain” said SAP CEO Bill McDermott. SAP intends to achieve this link of front- and back office by fully integrating an augmented suite of solutions that base on the SAP Hybris Cloud solutions into the digital core, the transactional back end. This integration is done via the SAP Cloud Platform. Additionally, it is fusing the new high profile acquisitions Gigya and CallidusCloud into the solution. C/4HANA; source SAP The Customer Data Cloud is what has been Gigya. This model, as well as S/4HANA, will be supported by the SAP HANA Data Management Suite, which is essentially a beefed up Master Data Management Solution around the SAP Data Hub. The second press release is about AI, IaaS, and more AI. SAP starts to talk more about conversational AI and Leonardo, as well as blockchain get more to the forefront. Mostly on the back end. The bigger Picture The...