thomas.wieberneit@aheadcrm.co.nz
SugarCRM and sales-i reimagine sales intelligence in a sweet move

SugarCRM and sales-i reimagine sales intelligence in a sweet move

The news Today, May 22 2024, SugarCRM and sales-i announced the acquisition of sales-i by SugarCRM. sales-i is leading provider of a revenue intelligence solution that helps businesses maximize their revenue and profitability. It targets at making sales professionals more efficient and effective by providing actionable insight into every customer, product and sale. The acquisition comes nearly a year after Sugar announced a partnership with sales-i to improve business-to-business (B2B) sales performance by delivering AI-powered revenue intelligence that leverages the data of a business’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and CRM. This combination provides businesses with actionable insights that improve sales, marketing, service and support, resulting in greater revenue and higher levels of retention. You can read the full announcement here. The combination of SugarCRM and sales-i combines the detailed transactional data residing in ERP systems with the rich sales data in SugarCRM. According to the release information, his shall create an intelligent data hub enabling customers to successfully execute impactful sales strategies to improv revenue, maximize profitability and increase customer satisfaction. In this combination, sales-i delivers the revenue intelligence, while SugarCRM delivers the CRM data; both of which are needed for a better sales enablement. Together, SugarCRM and sales-i intend to deliver the most innovative intelligent account management solution in the marketplace by utilizing leading edge sales enablement technologies provided by both companies and the rich revenue intelligence capabilities provided by sales-i. The bigger picture The market for CRM and CX solutions is crowded while only few vendors enjoy significant mindshare. And what is more, both terms, CRM and CX, get increasingly fuzzy as many vendors use them...
How to assess your AI readiness with 50  questions

How to assess your AI readiness with 50 questions

By now, everyone has recognized that we are in an AI hype. Again. It is probably the fourth since Joseph Weizenbaum developed the famous ELIZA, a natural language processing program that was intended to explore communication between humans and machines. In the early nineties we saw another wave when we saw the first neural networks; in the tens of this century, we saw machine learning making strides and now … Now we have generative AI. And every vendor – and buyer – jumps on it, often thinking of drastically improving business and employee performance – or replace some employees with technology – and of enjoying the ultimate competitive advantage. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Adapting and using AI tools gives a temporary advantage at best. Why temporary? Temporary, because technology is nothing that the competition cannot use. In fact, they will do the same and with that, any, or at least most, competitive advantage gets leveled again. And why at best? Because you might not get an advantage at all, for several reasons. Chief of them is missing corporate readiness. AI can be a very helpful tool, but it is a tool, that needs an organization to be prepared across several dimensions. Regardless of how these dimensions are laid out in detail, they include Strategy and leadership, infrastructure, people, culture, governance and last, but not least, data. Not being prepared in one or more of these dimensions can greatly diminish the projected benefits of adopting AI technology. A simple yet obvious example would be the employees being hesitant to use the provided tool if they feel that...
How Zendesk builds the future of AI-powered service

How Zendesk builds the future of AI-powered service

The News On April 15 to April 18, 2024, Zendesk held its annual Relate event, including a half day analyst track on April 15. The event was attended by around 1,600 customers, partners and analysts. It was about Zendesk’s strategy, which revolves around – no surprise here – AI to deliver better customer experiences. As part of this strategy, Zendesk also made clear how the past twelve month’s acquisitions of Klaus, Ultimate, and tymeshift get integrated into Zendesk’s customer service offerings, enriching and rounding them off. The company is betting big on AI, working on the assumption that interaction volumes between customers and companies are continuing to increase very fast. As a conclusion of this, service needs to become AI driven to accommodate this scale. Secondly, Zendesk sees AI as the technology underlying the necessary high degree of personalization. Together, this is estimated to increase the market size available to CX solutions that automate CX labor tremendously. At the event, Zendesk had three key announcements. They were AI agents to improve self service solutions, a copilot that helps agents solve incoming tickets faster and provides insight to further optimize the service and a workforce engagement solution that helps improve the productivity of digital and human agents as well as the quality of conversations. Behind all this lies the recognition that customer service is very much conversational. Customers and partners that I talked with had a keen interest in learning more about AI use cases. Many of them had started to use AI but estimated themselves still in early stages.  The bigger picture The customer service software market has become...
How to zohotize a global business

How to zohotize a global business

About two years ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with Elie Katz of National Retail Solutions, NRS, about how he and his team “zohotized” NRS. During this year’s ZohoDay24, I was happy enough to continue this conversation with Rene Selemi, director of retail operations at IDT Corporation, the parent corporation of NRS. IDT is a global provider of communications and payment services, headquartered in Newark, New Jersey. The company employs around 1,700 people. You prefer to watch the interview? You can do it right from here. IDT started to use Zoho around 7 years ago for its internal startup NRS. The scope was customer care with the objective of enabling the business to respond to quick and effectively to customers. IDT and NRS originally settled on Salesforce but after using it for about a year decided to move away in favor of Zoho as it was a better fit and faster to implement. Says Selemi “We had Salesforce for a while for about a year, but at the end we decided to go away from Salesforce and actually implemented Zoho. [..] It was a better fit [and] it was quick to implement. That was number one. We did it when minimum resources and we did it very fast.” This is very much in line with what Elie Katz told me two years ago: “the other implementation still did not yield results for his business in spite of mounting bills”. The two main criteria that IDT worked and works on, are functional fit and cost. What started as a point solution has become the backbone for NRS since then...
The power of a great customer – vendor relationship

The power of a great customer – vendor relationship

As part of my series of customer interviews, I recently had the chance of speaking with Keith Cooper, vice president of customer experience at Bergen Logistics. Bergen Logistics is a global third party logistics provider, based in North Bergen, New Jersey. It primarily serves the luxury fashion and home goods segments but is available in other verticals, too. In Keith’s words “When you order something from a company’s website online, the order comes to us. We pull the order, we pack the order, we ship the order, and it arrives to you in most cases the next day.” If you prefer to watch the interview, you can do so here. Bergen Logistics started to search for a CRM solution with the original focus on the-lead-to-order process. The trigger was the owner of the company inquiring for the status of a lead that he had given to sales a while ago – because the prospect was inquiring. At that time, “there was a belief [in the sales organization] that it was okay to take three or four days to respond to a client when they wanted to talk to us because we’re very bespoke; the salespeople sort of have this view that they would wait.” Not only did this risk the company reputation but additionally, available data showed that 40 percent of the prospects didn’t want to wait that long. They were trying to resolve a business issue. This translated into loss of business. The company did research and narrowed down the competition to Salesforce and Zoho. They did an in-depth analysis and went for Zoho. “Between Zoho and Salesforce...
What the heck is customer experience?

What the heck is customer experience?

What the heck is customer experience, and who is responsible for it? These are two very good questions, for which I, myself, have some very distinct answers. Let’s start with them, before I dive deeper into that topic with Praval Singh, VP Marketing for Customer Experience at Zoho, who – naturally – has some good answers, too. You prefer the original? Of course, you can watch the complete conversation, too. Praval Singh of Zoho talks customer experience Here it goes. Re customer experience, I am with Paul Greenberg and Bruce Temkin, who some years ago defined customer experience. Paul defines customer experience as “how the customer feels about a company over time” while Temkin defines it as “the perception that customers have of their interactions with an organization”. Either does it for me. It is the customer’s perception. This makes it quite easy to answer the second question. Who is responsible? Answer: The customer! Why? Because the organization cannot control how I perceive my interactions because it simply doesn’t know enough about my current context, aka situation, at any given time. Organizations regularly do not know enough about my cultural background, my current situation, or my current mood. What they can do, is taking an educated guess, based upon whatever data and algorithm or AI they have at hand. What the organization can control to some extent, is their half of an engagement. This means that the best intended engagements can result in unintended and undesired perceptions. Customer experience is a function of the customer’s experiences, the expectations towards a brand/product/company and the customer’s mood at the time of...