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Businesses continue to try to increase productivity and simplify tasks in order to use their time smarter. Our recent business technology innovation research found that, when it comes to analytics, 44 percent of organizations spend the most time on data-related tasks. With lack of resources being the largest issue impeding the adoption of technology, IT must operate efficiently while getting business the data it needs on a timely basis. Scribe Solutions has a business-centric data integration solution that operates in the cloud. Over the last 15 years Scribe has accumulated more than 12,000 customers worldwide that span from Fortune 500 to midsize to small organizations. Scribe enables business to access marketing and sales data (part of CRM) like that in Microsoft Dynamics. It has built a strong presence indirectly and through Microsoft partners; it claims to have more than 1,000 partners, and has been expanding efforts to broaden its position by supporting a range of data sources, including Salesforce.com.  Scribe focuses on what I call information optimization, providing value from information management investments, as I outlined in our research agenda.

Scribe addresses multipoint integration that cuts across vr_datacloud_obstacles_to_cloud_data_integrationdepartments and across on-premises and cloud computing environments.  Our research into data in the cloud found lack of implementation resources to be the major obstacle in 31 percent of organizations. Scribe’s product Scribe Online operates in the cloud and facilitates the integration of on-premises and cloud-based environments. It provides a replication service that helps get a copy of data from one point to many and ensures that data is available when users need it. This is especially important when you have a multitude of applications in the cloud for marketing, sales and customer services that need to interoperate, and if you need data that is generated in another application or is in a legacy on-premises application.

Scribe’s latest release simplifies the visual integration environment and provides some core functionality to expand its value to business. Its Integration Service enables synchronization processes to update as data is generated and provides methods to transform data to a form used by an organization’s business intelligence or analytics software. Scribe enables these capabilities through integration agents deployed with the applications.

I got a product demonstration that provided insight to the usability of the product, which our data in the cloud benchmark found was the most important evaluation criteria according to 56% of organizations. Scribe has built an approach that is usable by business. It lets users position graphical blocks that comprise integrations, eliminating the need for a DBA, though data-savvy professionals can set up the configuration of the blocks to enable business to access to data at any time in a safe and governed manner. Business analysts can easily adjust parameters to the blocks and change them to meet their needs. I also tried out Scribe’s free trial software, which was easy to activate and use. I do think the software trial could have pre-built demonstrations of integration to make it easier to get started. Its approach is especially nice for those who need to quickly get data into their spreadsheets for analysis. Our latest research into spreadsheets found that combining spreadsheets is time-consuming in more than half (56%) of organizations, mostly due to getting the data into the right shape for combining – a process Scribe Online can assist with.

Scribe provides a range of connectors to applications and systems, and a new Connector Development Kit that can help partners and customers extend the technology to meet a range of custom and specific application needs. Scribe has also announced a marketplace for partners that can be found embedded within the software to make it easy to use these connectors. I would like the company to highlight the marketplace outside of the software and on its website, as it is a significant part of Scribe’s value.

Scribe works well for marketing and sales teams that need to integrate marketing automation and sales force automation systems. Its software integrates with a broad spectrum of applications other data integration providers can’t manage, such as Exact Target, Silverpop, On24 and customer billing systems such as Intuit and FinancialForce. Scribe just announced support for Marketo, one of the fastest-growing marketing automation applications in cloud computing, which supports the demand and revenue generation needs of organizations, and for Xactly, which is used for sales compensation and incentives. It is expanding the number of connectors to applications through partners such as Datix, which resells Epicor.

I was impressed by the way Scribe’s offering makes data integration simpler for business while providing integration into applications vr_infomgt_alignment_of_business_and_itfor marketing, sales, customer services and accounting systems. Today, when organizations have systems dispersed across online environments that need data shared across applications or integrated into a unified environment for analytics, Scribe Online is a great step forward. Having software that can align business and IT is essential, as less than a fifth (19%) work together well for the information needs of an organization, according to our information management research. Scribe can provide significant value here, empowering business to do its own integration in a secured and governed manner. If it continues to expand its application connectivity to the providers that deliver value to the SMB market, it will have a great growth opportunity.

If you are looking to empower business to access and integrate data, take a look at Scribe Software and its latest Scribe Online release. It is pretty easy, and you should try it for yourself.

Regards,

Mark Smith

CEO & Chief Research Officer

Salesforce.com’s 2011 Dreamforce conference is under way. If you’re in sales and you use the company’s application, here’s how to gain the most value from your time at the conference. 

Today, For background, we need to note that Salesforce.com is not as focused on the sales force as it once was years ago, now concentrating more on application development, collaboration, mobility, database and cloud computing advancements to address the needs of IT who is readily engaging into this method of software usage. All of these are useful underlying capabilities that a sales force might use, but they are not aligned with the critical sales activities and processes. If you use Salesforce.com for sales force automation (SFA) in managing accounts, contacts and opportunities, we advise you to link it to a larger management and operational process that we call sales performance management and now are doing some new research. Our ongoing research into this topic shows that sales organizations require a portfolio of applications to support this process, but that two-thirds of organizations are not satisfied that SFA is meeting their needs. 

Salesforce.com does have a framework for sales called the Sales Cloud that addresses sales representatives’ basic needs in managing accounts and contacts, entering opportunities and quotes, working through approvals and workflow along with analytics. The company will be introducing some new capabilities, including basic sales forecasting, but that will not match the current class of sales forecasting available from its partners such as Cloud9 that I just assessed. Salesforce does deliver auxiliary collaboration with Chatter, email and calendaring and the ability to augment its contacts in an account with its purchase of Jigsaw. It has been steadily advancing its capabilities for mobile technologies including smartphones and tablets. It also recently released its Account Viewer, an iPad app that lets managers and account sales teams access account and related information as part of a review or visit. 

It’s a good thing Salesforce isn’t standing still, because Oracle and SAP are entering this market with cloud and mobile-based SFA offerings. My analyses of Oracle and SAP found they have covered the basics of SFA and provide more functionality for sales managers and management, which should provide new competition for Salesforce.com. Microsoft is rapidly becoming competitive with its new offerings and move into cloud computing. 

Dreamforce has grown so big that picking out what matters for sales professionals is not easy. There is much focus on cloud computing, collaboration, mobility, analytics and social media at the conference, and these are important topics that we have outlined as the business technology innovations of the decade. The secret behind Salesforce.com’s strategy is its enterprise software in the cloud, and the diatribes on technology-related advancements in cloud computing will be overwhelming.  

Still you need to determine what applications fit best for your sales organization. At Dreamforce you will find a number of sessions that are valuable for sales operations and management staffs. I am looking forward to “LinkedIn for Salesforce: Close Deals Faster with Insights for Your Pipeline” and “Mobile Crash-Course for Busy Sales Executives.” “iPad Revolution: How Going Mobile Will Transform and Boost Sales Efficiency” will get you thinking about the use of mobile technology for your sales organization. I also suggest “Social Selling: Rising Above the Noise to Drive Sales Performance” and “The Future of Comp (Hint: It is not Excel).” If you are trying to see whether Salesforce will go beyond the basic projections of opportunity records and align to the forecasting process, stop into “Forecasting Best Practices and a Sneak Peak at the NEW Forecasting Application.” I would also not miss “Sales Cloud Roadmap: A Sneak Peak into the Future” to see if Salesforce will advance further into sales performance management, and “Roadmap Sneak Peak: The Future of Analytics in Salesforce” to see what the company plans to do about sales analytics, which our benchmark research shows needs serious improvement from the wide use of spreadsheets and generic reporting and dashboards.  

At the Dreamforce expo you can find a wide range of dedicated sales applications, some of which are more likely than others to be worth your time, but the show floor will be chaotic and there is no “sales cloud” area on the show floor. The quick guide below starts with sales-related vendors who have the smallest booths, and works up to those with higher sponsorship levels and investments. 

At the Bronze level, see what Merced Systems is offering in Sales Performance Management 4.0, which I recently assessed. Stop by Qvidian, which has been advancing the art of sales playbooks and proposals in applications, as I just assessed; it could be one of the gems of the show for sales. If you are trying to improve the science of territory and quota optimization, stop by TerrAlign to see how the largest and most complex sales forces optimize their sales organizations. Zyme, which my colleague Robert Kugel recently assessed, helps you gain control of your channel through data integrity. If you care about pricing and profitability, see Vendavo and Zilliant, both of which have been helping B2B organizations for years. 

At the Silver level, ChannelInsight provides applications to help manage channels sales, a critical area of focus for many who depend on distribution and reseller channels. Also Varicent, from our analysis is one of the fastest-growing providers of sales performance management specializing in sales compensation and incentives, along with quotas and territories and sales analytics. 

At the Gold level, Callidus Software is a long-time provider of applications for sales management and operations, and was rated a Hot Vendor in our Value Index for Sales Performance Management. It has been integrating talent management into its sales portfolio through acquisitions that started with that of ForceLogix in 2010. If you care about configuration, pricing and quoting in your sales organization to maximize margins and pricing more immediately, stop by Camelon Software. Cloud9 has just expanded to provide intelligent sales forecasting to complement its pipeline management, as I just assessed. Xactly is showing its rapidly growing suite of sales performance management; we rated the company a Hot Vendor, and it provides a range of applications for the sales organization. My latest analysis of Xactly shows significant growth of capabilities in its 7.1 release. 

At the Titanium level, if you are looking to arm your inside sales and accounts teams with maturing leads that might be ripe enough to sell to, you will find Marketo has expanded its footprint to provide a sales application called Marketo Sales Insight that is worth checking out. 

There will be a lot to cover for sales professionals. I will be busy assessing the latest from Salesforce.com and dozens of its partners as part of my preparation for the 2011 Value Index for Sales Performance Management. Our 2010 version indicated that Salesforce still has a way to go to reach Hot Vendor status. We are also busy with our latest benchmark research in sales to determine your priorities for more efficient sales processes from management to operations to sales teams, all aimed at gaining the best possible outcomes.  

Dreamforce should be a good event for those in sales teams. Make sure to network with your peers in the sessions, as the rest of the event will be chaotic, with attendance well beyond even Salesforce.com’s expectations. I too will be looking to see how I can get the best return on my Salesforce.com investment that we use for SFA, and whether our firm should continue using it. If you are in sales and want to track me down and catch up, find me on Twitter at @marksmithvr, and we can talk about providing you with ways to get inexpensive access to our research and consultations.  

Regards, 

Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer

Mark Smith – Twitter

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