Mark Smith's Analyst Perspectives

AI in Business: Hypocrisy and Opportunity

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 6, 2018 8:17:26 AM

We now are well beyond the year depicted in 2001: A Space Odyssey, a cinematic perspective on the future of artificial intelligence in which HAL 9000, a computer, is able to simulate human behavior and control machines. Anyone reviewing the past two years of marketing around AI in the business technology industry can be forgiven for believing that we have arrived at the futuristic state Stanley Kubrick imagined. We have not.

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Topics: Analytics, business intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, data science, Internet of Things, Mobile, Big Data, Data Integration, Data Governance, Data Preparation, Information Optimization, Machine Learning, Customer Experience, Billing and Recurring Revenue, Contact Center, Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Service, Workforce Optimization, digital technology, collaboration for business, Cybersecurity, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Mobile Technology, Wearable Computing

Beyond Digital Transformation: Effective Technology Innovation in 2018

Posted by Mark Smith on May 7, 2018 12:55:31 AM

Advancing the potential of any business requires continuous improvement in the processes and technology that support it. Many companies have embraced attempts at a digital transformation, and it’s become a goal to which organizational resources and budgets have been dedicated around the globe.

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Topics: Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, data science, Internet of Things, Mobile, Big Data, Data Integration, Data Governance, Data Preparation, Information Optimization, Machine Learning, Customer Experience, Billing and Recurring Revenue, Contact Center, Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Service, Workforce Optimization, digital technology, collaboration for business, Cybersecurity, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Mobile Technology, Wearable Computing, Human Capital Management, Marketing, Digital Marketing, Digital Commerce, Marketing Performance Management, Pricing and Promotion Management, Product Information Management, Office of Finance, Operations & Supply Chain, Sales

Broken Analytics and BI? Natural Language and Notifications Can Help

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 15, 2017 11:43:52 PM

If we look at the focus of technology vendors for analytics and business intelligence or business applications providers deploying these capabilities in the last five years, we see that they have elevated the importance on the value of visualization and dashboards. These promotions might be understandable, but will they make business and the people using them more intelligent?

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Topics: Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, data science, Mobile, Machine Learning, digital technology, Big Data, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing

Salesforce Fails Again in Customer Experience

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 14, 2017 2:02:52 AM

More than a year ago I wrote from personal experience about the challenges our firm encountered with Salesforce’s cloud computing systems and customer service and if we can trust them for business in the cloud. That perspective covered a range of issues that the behemoth cloud computing applications and platform company is facing regarding its service and technology. While Salesforce has shifted its customers like us and others to a different cloud computing environment, as it did in moving us off its #NA14 cloud computing instance, core challenges of its customer experience and billing processes persist. After the last customer experience incident, I contacted its executives about the need for operational improvement; it was clear in the dialogue that they saw some but not all of our experience as issues important to improving its customer processes. It was good to get some immediate attention, but my hope was to speak for all SMB companies in pointing out the importance of effective communications and escalating notifications and interactions when those customer moments go sour, so the customer isn’t forced to turn to social media to be heard. This was an area where Salesforce had significant room for improvement in customer engagement, reflecting a pattern we see in our benchmark research, which finds the most common challenges in almost half of organizations are integration of channels of engagement and managing activities as silos.

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Topics: Analytics, Machine Learning Digital Technology, Big Data, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Product Information Management, Sales and Operations Planning, Sales, Digital Commerce, Sales Enablement and Execution, Sales Performance Management, Sales Planning and Analytics, Office of Finance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration

Supercharge Sales Analytics with Digital Technologies

Posted by Mark Smith on May 12, 2017 8:44:14 AM

Our firm regularly explores the impacts of new technologies on business. Analytics is foremost among recently emerging technologies, which our benchmark research consistently confirms. In our research on next-generation sales analytics, fourth-fifths (82%) of participating organizations cited analytics as the most important technology trend for sales; however, several other technologies also are adding power and flexibility to the use of sales analytics.

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Topics: Analytics, Machine Learning Digital Technology, Big Data, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Product Information Management, Sales, Digital Commerce, Sales Enablement and Execution, Sales Performance Management, Sales Planning and Analytics, Office of Finance, Cloud Computing, Mobile Technology, Collaboration

Prepare and Wrangle Data for Sales Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on May 5, 2017 8:28:39 AM

The importance of analytics for sales organizations is clear and, as I pointed out in my recent analyst perspective on the next generation of sales analytics, these capabilities optimize revenue potential. However, utilizing sales analytics requires a set of data skills that most organizations still find challenging and are thus not fully prepared to support. The efficient access and preparation of data underlies any analytics processes, which must meet demanding needs that are not always automated. Our research into next generation sales analytics has found many impediments that must be addressed and is a critical part of our expertise agenda for sales organizations.

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Topics: Analytics, Machine Learning, digital technology, Big Data, Cloud Computing, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Product Information Management, Sales and Operations Planning, Sales, Digital Commerce, Sales Enablement and Execution, Sales Performance Management, Sales Planning and Analytics, Office of Finance, Collaboration

New Generation of Sales Analytics Can Optimize Revenue Potential

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 27, 2017 11:22:59 AM

I have been following advances in sales analytics since the 1990s. Over the last five years, however, I have seen evolution, not innovation. In most cases the information that analytics provides is too complicated and not contextualized enough for sales people who are not analytics experts to understand, let alone take action on. As I pointed out in my 2017 research agenda on sales, analytics is essential for planning that improves the impacts of sales efforts and meets the goals of the organization.

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Topics: Machine Learning Digital Technology, Big Data, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Product Information Management, Sales and Operations Planning, Sales, Digital Commerce, Sales Enablement and Execution, Sales Performance Management, Sales Planning and Analytics, Analytics, Office of Finance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration

Optimizing the Business of Selling in 2017

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 20, 2017 9:22:10 AM

I am happy to provide my personal perspective on the potential of sales organizations, processes and technology to supercharge business activity in 2017. The sales processes of organizations – whether they involve digital commerce or direct or indirect physical selling – should be part of continuous optimization efforts to reach maximum results. To do this, the people leading and running sales processes must be able to use technology that supports their responsibilities and analyzes the crucial information coming into the business. For almost 15 years, we have advocated for sales applications and tools that are necessary to optimize sales effectiveness and improve the outcomes of their sales efforts. The available portfolio is much larger than sales force automation (SFA) and involves more than the continued use of CRM, which has clear limits in its ability to manage customer relationships. The applications on offer include many facets of sales:  coaching, compensation management, contract management, configure price quote (CPQ), forecasting, quota and territory management, planning and optimization, pricing and revenue optimization, and target or market intelligence. New applications designed for sales also enable digital effectiveness that can transform organizations. Let me provide my perspective on six topics that are shaping the way sales can and should operate in 2017, and which are part of our sales research agenda for the year.

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Topics: Machine Learning, digital technology, Big Data, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Mobile Technology, Operations & Supply Chain, Product Information Management, Sales and Operations Planning, Sales, Digital Commerce, Sales Enablement and Execution, Sales Performance Management, Analytics, Office of Finance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration