CRMEvolution 2018 – A Good-Bye, a Hello, and some not so random Thoughts

CRMEvolution 2018 – A Good-Bye, a Hello, and some not so random Thoughts

Just back home from CRMEvolution it is time to do a little recap on this year’s instance of the conference. This year the conference was co-chaired by Paul Greenberg and Brent Leary, two of the most accomplished independent analysts and influencers around. And also two great persons! It is with a sad I that we see Paul saying good-bye to chairing the conference after 2018 but then Brent is likely to be a very good successor. It will be interesting to see where he will add his style, connections, and background to the conference. This year, we have seen an Amazon keynote for the first time, which I reckon is one of the first marks Brent set as a chair. CRM Evolution: The Main Themes This year there have been some main themes; none of them really surprising, if one follows the industry: It is all about people, not about technology. And in order to successfully get things done in the coming years people need to ‘unlearn’ a thing or two, in order to become open for solving challenges in the novel ways that are required. This point was already hammered down in Brian Solis’ opening keynote. Iteration (doing the same in a better way) doesn’t cut the mustard anymore. Thriving in future will require more innovation (doing new things) and increasingly disruption (doing new things that make the old ones obsolete). At the same time it is crucial to keep one’s audience in mind. AI, machine learning, and with it chat bots are taking centre stage. Customer as well as user engagement needs to be in real time...
SAP acquires CallidusCloud – Take Two

SAP acquires CallidusCloud – Take Two

The News SAP has recently announced the completion of the acquisition of Callidus Software, Inc. Unsurprisingly, CallidusCloud’s assets shall get consolidated under the umbrella of SAP Hybris leveraging the customer relationships that the existing leadership team, which shall continue to lead their team, has built. CallidusCloud is a leader in sales performance management and in the CPQ area and also has some more interesting assets, notably their contract lifecycle management offering, which ties nicely into the CPQ piece. The CPQ software has a (first) working integration into SAP’s Cloud for Sales, which got announced in September 2017 and that gets continuously improved. One seemingly simple, yet powerful feature of the CPQ software is the indicator for margin health that gets updated as a sales representative works upon a quote. The software’s ability to generate multi-level workflows based upon changes of prices or contract clauses creates an efficient workflow, which includes the customer when using the portal based delivery of documents during negotiations. All in all the software is geared towards making the sales process efficient. CallidusCloud’s solutions shall be sold standalone as well as integrated into SAP solutions and a roadmap shall get announced at SAPPHIRENOW in June 2018. I have done a brief initial analysis of this acquisition right after the plan got announced and followed up with some musings about how CPQ can be delivered in a customer experience fashion. The Bigger Picture With CallidusCloud’s CPQ SAP now has at minimum three configuration engines that can get used by customers: ERP Variant Configurator SAP Hybris CPQ CallidusCloud CPQ A fourth one comes into the picture if I...
Clari – Nipping at Salesforce’s Heels?

Clari – Nipping at Salesforce’s Heels?

A brief while ago I had the chance of talking to Andy Byrne, CEO of Clari, about how AI can help making sales organizations more effective and efficient. Clari is a vendor of Opportunity-to-Close solutions. G2Crowd lists the company amongst the leaders of its Sales Analytics Software quadrant, while Gartner Group in 2017 named it a cool vendor in the Tech Go-To-Market. Shortly after the conversation Clari announced the closure of a $35 Million funding round “following record growth”, essentially a tripling of their customer base while maintaining a near 100 per cent renewal rate. According to Andy, the company applies “machine learning focused on sales”, i.e. predictive and prescriptive analytics to improve pipeline visibility and to get more insight into which opportunities are more likely to close than others. This helps in focusing on these opportunities. This solution was developed after having in depth conversation with a number of big sales teams, figuring out their challenges/problems. As a result of this the company is addressing three problems. Many to most sales reps do not consider CRM systems (or SFA systems, for that matter) as particularly helpful. Sales managers do have a poor visibility into what their teams are doing, with which opportunities they spend their time. Executives and Sales Operations are dealing with “XLS hell” because the system’s forecasting ability is broken. All in all, points two and three are consequences of point one. If a system is not of help it is a time-waster and tends to be avoided. Data about opportunities will not be entered in a timely manner nor will it be very accurate. Clari’s...
Salesforce acquires MuleSoft – A Defensive Move

Salesforce acquires MuleSoft – A Defensive Move

The News On March 20, 2018 Salesforce announced the signature of a definitive agreement to acquire Mulesoft for a whopping 6.5 billion USD – whopping because the 2017 Mulesoft revenues have been at just $296.5 Million, albeit with a $1 billion target for 2021. The press release states that “together, Salesforce and MuleSoft will accelerate customers’ digital transformations, enabling them to unlock data across legacy systems, cloud apps, and devices to make smarter, faster decisions and create highly differentiated, connected, customer experiences.” Mulesoft is recognized by Gartner as a leader in the 2017 Enterprise Integration Platform as a Service Quadrant. The Bigger Picture As I have stated repeatedly before, most recently here, the enterprise software market is engaged in something that can be called a platform war. There are a few big players and some emergent players in the enterprise software market, and then we have a number of companies that come from the infrastructure side of the house. Business applications get commoditized. Therefore the platform becomes crucial in a battle for dominance. And it is not a given that there will be a dominance. Looking at the 4 big software vendors, Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, and SAP, they all have different legacies, strengths and weaknesses. They share one weakness, which is that their core business is in a mainly saturated enterprise market. All of them want and need to play their strengths, while mitigating their weaknesses in order to become the dominant player. Looking at Salesforce, one of its key strengths is the brand. Right or wrong, pretty much the first name that comes to mind when thinking CRM...
Rethink CRM to be CEM

Rethink CRM to be CEM

Businesses are in a difficult situation. Today’s customers demand more experiences and contextually relevant engagements than they are equipped to deliver. The secret behind the abbreviation CEM is more important than ever. This places the businesses on a difficult and challenging trail that they need to carefully navigate in order to be and stay successful. The business challenge is that technology helps everyone, especially customers. This is because to the increasing proliferation of consumer technology, it is far easier and cheaper for customers to implement and use technology to their advantage as it is for businesses. A director of merchandising of a 1 Bn+ retailer put like this: “By the time we catch up to technology it will have moved past us again.” Examples for the truth of this statement in the past decade include the meteoric rise of messaging services and, before that, social media, powered by smartphones that made the Internet ubiquitous. As a consequence of this today’s customer is less depending on company marketing- or sales organizations and has a far higher reach when it comes to satisfying an information need. Consequently, Google finds that a whopping 99.8 per cent of all online ads are simply … ignored. Sales representatives are on the verge of becoming irrelevant. An increasing number of studies find that customers contact a sales representative only after a product decision has been made. Other studies determine that customers are abandoning shopping carts already following a single poor service experience. While these studies often are commissioned by vendors there still are too many of them to not indicate that there is a problem....
Salesforce Sales Cloud Supercharged – Einstein’s next Move

Salesforce Sales Cloud Supercharged – Einstein’s next Move

The News A few days ago Salesforce announced an update to its sales cloud that features Einstein powered predictions, insights, and productivity. The press release is linked above or alternatively you can read it below, along with some comments of mine. Salesforce is (again) addressing the three main issues that plague CRM implementations since Tom Siebel coined this term. Let me paraphrase them> Salespeople do not find the time to do their job, which is selling. Instead they are spending an inordinate amount of time entering data that supposedly only helps their management controlling them a little more. Sales managers do not have enough visibility into what is going on in their area of responsibility, what their team is doing (and why), whether they are doing the right thing. The same problem, of course, applies to the Head of Sales, just at a bigger scale. Sales operations is charged with creating meaningful reports that tell the one single truth. This they need to do using data that resides somewhere, data that is distributed, instead of some central consolidated place. Data that is essentially not fully trustworthy. Salesforce is doing this using a triple of features: The Salesforce resident AI: Einstein to help sales persons identify the most promising opportunities to work upon The Salesforce Inbox that increases productivity by attributing emails to the right accounts as well as connecting to the calendar Sales Analytics to help salespeople and their management to visualize, interpret, and use the available data   The Press Release Ask any rep what their favorite part of the day is, and chances are that their answers...