thomas.wieberneit@aheadcrm.co.nz
The Clash of Titans – The Great 2021 Players

The Clash of Titans – The Great 2021 Players

The year 2021 comes to an end. More than three years have gone by since the last look at the Clash of Titans, an analysis of how the then big 4.5: Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, SAP, and Adobe – along with some other players, are shaping the greater CRM and CX arena. A lot has changed since Thomas Wieberneit published his 2018 series that consisted of 4 articles: Platform PlayMicrosoft and SAP weigh inThe War Cry: Oracle and SalesforceThe IaaS Platform Providers It is obvious that the commoditization of the business application continues, and the vendors’ focus on the underlying platform has even increased since 2018. CRM, and enterprise software in general, has always been a platform play although this has not always been recognized and sometimes even negated. Two obvious reasons for it being a platform play is that the creation of positive customer and user experiences needs a consistent technical platform, or we end up with engagements that are fragmented across interactions. This results in inconsistent and poor experiences. The second reason is that it needs a technological platform to enable and grow a thriving ecosystem. Vinnie Mirchandani in January 2020 stated that Enterprise Software Platforms have so far underperformed. Mirchandani looked at Microsoft, SAP and Salesforce. He basically argues, without providing too many details, that the major enterprise software vendors’ platforms are all lacking ambitious goals and do not aim high enough. One of his major points is that none of these vendors has put enough emphasis in empowering, nurturing and growing their respective partner ecosystems to take advantage of the software platforms by augmenting the applications delivered by the platform vendor...
You are a platform player? How to not be doomed!

You are a platform player? How to not be doomed!

These days every significant software vendor and some others, too, is positioning itself as a CX- and/or a platform player. By now, it is well known, what it means to be a platform player, and this is also not the main topic of this post. Just as much: In order to be a significant CX player, one quite simply needs to be a platform player.  Also, regardless of whether one has a platform or not, if everyone is a CX and a platform player, then obviously this is nothing that differentiates one vendor from the other anymore. Customers meanwhile nearly expect a set of solutions by one vendor being built upon one platform – or at least to appear like they are built on one platform. This basically means that “platform” as a thing to emphasize on has reached its zenith. And then, there is an additional problem associated with the platform game. A platform market is a kind of a winner takes it all market. Following the analysis and argumentation of Ray Wang in his new book Everybody Wants to Rule the World, in a platform market there will be only two major players. All other players are becoming insignificant or will vanish. While this sounds somewhat dystopian the point that I want to make is that there will not be a great many successful and strong players in a platform market. To use a metaphor, at one point in time a few vendors will have created enough gravity to become the entity that customers are attracted to. It is also visible that the first vendors have understood this and are acting...
How to successfully engage with students and their parents

How to successfully engage with students and their parents

Schools, universities and other educational institutions have one challenge in common. They need to constantly communicate with their students and often the parents as well. Obviously, the students and their parents are different generations; and guess what, that means they have different communication styles, prefer different communications channels and are on different timeframes. They also have different information needs. What they have in common is that they do have a smartphone and do not necessarily want to see yet another app on their phones’ home screens, or anywhere at all on their phones. They want and need timely information and an easy and simple way to supply information or, in the case of the students, work results. It is a valid assumption that the members of both stakeholder groups also have and use services like text and one or more messengers. Naturally, they all have email addresses. An increasing number of people also use unified communications software like MS Teams or Slack. And, let us not forget about the personnel on the other side, the teachers, assistants, or members of the school boards. Outbound use cases include attracting new students, ongoing information on offers and events to parents and students alike, requests for information, work assignments to students, notifications about upcoming deadlines for pending work, and many more. On the inbound side we have requests for information, submission of information and work results, again amongst many other use cases. And then, there is collaboration; virtual “classroom” education, townhall meetings, briefings, etc. Given all this, how can an educational institution effectively and efficiently communicate with its two main external stakeholder...
Ecosystems, how to play for small players

Ecosystems, how to play for small players

Lately, we have talked a lot about ecosystems, in particular business ecosystems. Normally, business ecosystems follow a hub and spoke model rather than a network approach; one major player sets it up, and then adds customers and partners like independent software vendors, systems integrators, analysts, consultants, suppliers, or other similar entities. Good examples of successful ecosystems are the ones around the big four enterprise software vendors: Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce and SAP. Sure, there are other ones, but these are easy reference examples. In theory, ecosystems shall provide more value to customers, better serving their needs by making it easier for them to get access to information, knowledge, skills and productized enhancements to the core solution that they chose to implement. They also get a broader choice of possible enhancements, provided by different vendors in the ecosystem. Of course, this also benefits the other participating stakeholders. Customers are, of course, an important group of every ecosystem. Treating them as partners helps the platform company to create a transparent prioritization process for delivering requested new functionalities that extend the own solution in an optimal way. Not all customers provide the necessary input, though. For the platform provider, the ecosystem creates stickiness. Still, this company cannot develop and provide all the functionality that is ever needed by its customers. Nor can it provide sufficient implementation services. And it does not want to, either. So, it needs ISVs and SIs as members of its ecosystem to provide this functionality, either as products, or as consulting solutions. What these companies deliver on top of the core solution also increases the attractiveness of the ecosystem. ...
Ecosystem Play – One Game at a Time

Ecosystem Play – One Game at a Time

It is not that uncommon that a software company creates new software based upon customer requirements. Actually, this is the way things should be done; not exclusively, but to quite an extent. Now, there are few software vendors who are truly independent. Most vendors are, and need to be, part of one or more other vendor ecosystems. This is simply a matter of scale, as there are only a few vendors who have the size and market power that are necessary to surround themselves with a good number of customers, ISVs, system integrators and other partners. And the number of these ecosystems is rather shrinking than growing.  What this means is not that these few companies can implement and deliver what they want, but that the other ones need to carefully check two things. First, which ecosystem(s) to belong to, be it one or more than one. And as the CEO of 3CLogic, Denis Seynhaeve in a recent CRMKonvo said: It is important to choose wisely, which ecosystem to commit to. One of the fundamental consequences of this decision is the degree of dependency on other vendors that the smaller vendor has. This degree naturally decreases with the number of ecosystems it participates in, although they can never be truly independent – which is also not wanted when playing the ecosystem game. Conversely, participating in more than one ecosystem increases options and the potential reach. On the other hand, there are some other factors that come into play. The software architecture and the software itself will become more complicated when different vendors’ systems shall get augmented. Deep knowledge in...