Mark Smith's Analyst Perspectives

Salesforce Brings Conversation and Customer Experience to the Forefront

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 16, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Dreamforce has become the largest enterprise software event for businesses in the United States, and it is evident why when looking at it this year. With over 170,000 business and IT professionals attending, Salesforce came to show off upcoming product announcements and innovations. This year's biggest focus was on Einstein Voice (a personalized and intelligent conversational assistant), integration with other platforms, and Salesforce Customer 360. The last of these is the start of an answer to a problem we have well documented; businesses struggle getting a full view of the customer and provide a frictionless response to issues and interactions. For the full breakdown of Dreamforce 2018, and my analysis of all the largest announcements, watch my hot take video.

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Topics: Customer Experience, digital technology, Digital Marketing, Marketing, Intelligent CX, Voice of the Customer, AI, Machine Learning, natural language processing, Robotic Process Automation, Sales Performance Management (SPM), SPM, CRM, Salesforce.com, Dreamforce

Can We Trust Salesforce for Business in the Cloud?

Posted by Mark Smith on May 14, 2016 9:30:47 AM

I have been meaning to write about Salesforce since its Dreamforce 2015 conference. Salesforce provides a platform, tools and applications for business and IT who claims to be the ‘no software’ company which as you will read is exactly what happened on May 10th. Heck, Salesforce is making a lot of advances on its platform, its applications and even with Analytics and the Internet of Things. These changes are at the center of what at our analyst firm calls digital business innovation. Much of what it’s doing is very good, but now I am questioning whether the company’s foundation of business processes and technology platform has reached a point at which it can’t grow any further without impacting its own customers’ operations and success. That may be a harsh statement, but I think my reasoning will become clear as you read this perspective.

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Topics: Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Customer Service, IOT, Marketing, NA14, Sales, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Salesforce.com

Sales Agenda for Applications and Technology in 2015

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 17, 2015 8:36:29 PM

Most people in business management admit that sales is more an art than a science. Organizations have long struggled to find the right mix to improve its effectiveness, and few get the most out of available technology. For many the default is still to use sales force automation (SFA) and spreadsheets to manage processes and try to increase the productivity of sales staff. In our view they should take a holistic approach to sales processes from contact to close and support everything from sales forecasting to pipeline management to compensation with applications designed for these purposes. Those in sales operations need to apply analytics to understand and fine-tune sales activities. Those in sales management need applications that can help recruit, engage and retain the best talent. Even more than elsewhere in business, in sales people matter, and the organizations that most empower their teams are likely to get the best results. Optimizing people and processes requires a balance of information and technology to support the various needs of the sales organization.

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Topics: Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Operational Performance Management (OPM), Recurring Revenue, Sales, Sales Compensation, Sales Forecasting, SFA

The Business of Sales and Marketing – Our Research Agenda for 2013

Posted by Mark Smith on Jan 11, 2013 12:39:29 PM

Most organizations see improving the effectiveness of sales as a way to increase productivity. Those organizations that take advantage of the latest sales applications and technology are finding themselves with a competitive advantage, but many organizations lack the time and resources to assess and deploy appropriate platforms. That’s a shame, since most sales organizations have plenty to improve in their selling, forecasting, incentives and planning according to our latest research on sales performance management. We found a high demand even for many of the basics; for instance, many organizations still use personal spreadsheets or outdated applications that are costly to manage. At the same time, marketing organizations are investing heavily to be more revenue- and sales-focused to ensure they maintain relevance and contribute to their organizations’ performance and profitability. Both sales and marketing have fixated on specific processes and how they can work better together.

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Topics: Big Data, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance Management (BPM), Cloud Computing, CPQ, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), Marketing, Operational Performance Management (OPM), PIM, Product Information Management, Sales, Sales Compensation, Sales Forecasting, Sales Performance Management (SPM), SFA, Social Media, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Business Intelligence

Oracle Fusion for CRM and HCM Ready with a Mobile Tap

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 4, 2012 12:10:20 PM

I attended Oracle’s annual OpenWorld conference this week. The company claims it holds the world’s largest technology conference, with 50,000 attendees and a million people viewing sessions online. It was a great opportunity to get close to the Oracle Fusion Applications, which the company presented as proven and ready, with customers using them on-premises and in private and public cloud computing usage methods. In keynotes from executives Larry Ellison, Mark Hurd and Thomas Kurian and application-focused sessions with executives Steve Miranda and Chris Leone, Oracle repeated the message that Fusion Applications are not just for cloud computing and web services but are also accessible through mobile technology called Oracle Fusion Tap that operates natively on the Apple iPad. The company left no confusion about its applications’ readiness for cloud and mobile computing, and provided insight into future advancements.

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Topics: Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance Management (BPM), Cloud Computing, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Information Management (IM), Mobile Technology, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Oracle, Sales, Sales Performance Management (SPM), SAP, SFA, Social Collaboration, Social Media, Workday, Workforce Analytics, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Business Intelligence, Salesforce.com

Xactly Helps Sales Go Mobile and Get Smarter with Incent 8

Posted by Mark Smith on May 24, 2012 9:57:52 AM

Businesses aim to make their sales function as productive as possible, but they don’t always support that goal with investment in technology. I recently wrote about sales needing a swift technology kick. Sales application vendor Xactly provides a boot with the release of Xactly Incent 8 and will make parts of the application suite available from the Apple App Store for the iPad in the coming weeks.

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Topics: Compensation, CRM, Mobile, Sales, Sales Operations, Sales Performance Management, SFA, Uncategorized

NICE Transforms Customer Experience through Mobile and Interaction Intelligence

Posted by Mark Smith on May 3, 2012 1:06:15 PM

I attended NICE Systems’ annual Interactions (Twitter #Interaction2012) conference in Nashville to get the latest from this growing global software business that focuses on customer-centric applications. If you have not heard of NICE you might not be primarily involved in managing and interacting with customers, the area in which NICE has been growing organically and by acquiring technology providers that complement its existing portfolio. As we discussed in recent analyses, and NICE acquired Merced Systems for its sales- and service-centric performance management applications and Fizzback for customer feedback management software. Both have helped it become a more strategically focused software business. NICE Systems targets enterprise contact centers as well as financial risk, compliance and security. NICE makes its applications available not just on-premises but also in software as a service and hosted environments.

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Topics: Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Call Center, Cloud Computing, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Analytics, Customer Feedback Management, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Customer Service, Desktop Analytics, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Interactive Intelligence, NICE Systems, Operational Intelligence, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Social CRM, Social Media, Speech Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Voice of the Customer, Workforce Management, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Customer Experience, Analytics, Business Intelligence

The Business of Sales Research Agenda for 2012

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 6, 2012 10:28:00 PM

Investing wisely in sales-related people and processes is a key to business success. In 2012, helping sales staff perform at their highest levels should be a top priority for management. That may take some effort, according to our benchmark research, which indicates that only 14 percent of sales organizations operate at the highest level of innovation and competitiveness. In recent years, most organizations merely discussed moving beyond using only their sales force automation application and Microsoft Office for improving sales efficiency. Now sales organizations can move beyond systems that were designed decades ago, thanks to the availability of a broad range of applications to support sales activities and processes. In fact dozens of new types of sales applications are available to help sales focus on selling, which creates another issue. Where should sales organizations focus their limited resources and budgets?

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Topics: Analytics, assets, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance Management (BPM), channel, Cloud Computing, coaching, Collaboration, commission, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Learning, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Performance, Planning, Reporting, Sales, Sales Compensation, Sales Force Automation, Sales Performance Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM), SFA, Social Media, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Office of Finance, Big Data, Mobile

Salesforce.com looking for a Successful Rypple in Human Capital Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 20, 2011 12:51:51 PM

Salesforce.com made a surprising announcement of its agreement to acquire Rypple, a software company that defines its product as a social goals application. I call this a surprise because although Salesforce has been extending its reach beyond sales and customer service to IT in providing a platform, tools and a database for building applications and storing data in the cloud, until now it has not entered directly into other lines of business. After its annual Dreamforce conference last summer, I analyzed the company’s strategy and products. Now I want to consider what this acquisition means for Salesforce and the human capital management market.

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Topics: Business Applications, Business Performance Management (BPM), Business Technology, Chatter, Cloud Computing, CRM, HR, Human Capital Management, Information Management, Marketing, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Oracle, Sales Performance Management (SPM), SalesCloud, Salesforce.com, SAP, SFA, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Talent Management, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), digital technology, CFO, CIO, COO, Service Cloud

SAP Aims to be More Cloudy and Mobile in 2012 and Beyond

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 19, 2011 3:37:44 PM

I attended the annual SAP Influencer Summit (Twitter #SAPSummit), at which executives from SAP meet with analysts and customers from around the world to discuss the company’s direction. Pointing out that in 2012 SAP will reach its 40th anniversary of operations, chief communications officer Hubertus Kulpus and chief marketing officer Jonathan Becher kicked off the summit, then passed the microphones to co-CEO Jim Hagemann-Snabe and CTO Vishal Sikka for overviews of the business and technology strategies. They presented a well-rehearsed dialogue on SAP’s definition of its software business as being in two areas, the “system of record” and “system of engagement”; the first term describes its transactional applications and the second its portfolio of business analytics.

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Topics: Business Analytics, Business Applications, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance Management (BPM), Business Technology, Cloud Computing, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), HR, Human Capital Management, Information Applications (IA), Information Management, Information Management (IM), Information Technology, IT Performance Management (ITPM), Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Sales, Sales Performance Management (SPM), SAP, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Sustainability, Sybase, Tablets, Talent Management, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), digital technology, Business Intelligence, CFO, CIO, COO, Smart Phones, Mobile