Mark Smith's Analyst Perspectives

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: Big Data, Sales, cloud computing, Analytics, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, Billing and Recurring Revenue, Digital Commerce, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Sales Enablement and Execution, Machine Learning Digital Technology, Collaboration for Business, Sales Planning and Analytics, Mobile Technology Operations & Supply Chain

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: Big Data, Sales, Machine Learning, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, digital technology, Billing and Recurring Revenue, Digital Commerce, Sales and Operations Planning, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Sales Enablement and Execution, Collaboration for Business, Sales Planning and Analytics

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: Big Data, Sales, cloud computing, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, analytics, Billing and Recurring Revenue, Digital Commerce, Sales and Operations Planning, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Sales Enablement and Execution, Machine Learning Digital Technology, Collaboration for Business, Sales Planning and Analytics

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: Big Data, Sales, Machine Learning, Mobile Technology, cloud computing, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, analytics, digital technology, Billing and Recurring Revenue, Digital Commerce, Operations & Supply Chain, Sales and Operations Planning, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Sales Enablement and Execution, Collaboration for Business

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

A New Generation of Analytics Offers Help for Sales

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 24, 2015 8:31:32 PM

All lines of business are under pressure to meet targets and deliver expected results, but none is under more pressure than Sales. Like other organizations it must use information to derive insights about progress and problems and to decide what changes to make. Today businesses collect and analyze data from more data sources in more forms than ever before. To understand it they need effective analytics, and again none need it more than Sales.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Operational Performance Management (OPM), sales analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Business Intelligence (BI), Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Applications (IA), Sales Performance Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM), SFA

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

Managing Sales Compensation Requires Commitment

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 21, 2015 9:18:08 AM

Sales organizations are under constant pressure to maximize their potential. To accomplish this they need to integrate their people and processes with those of the finance and operations groups and have access to all available information and useful technology. This is particularly true in the area of sales compensation, which when managed properly recognizes accomplishments, rewards success and motivates people. However, we find that few sales organizations take a comprehensive approach to sales compensation management.

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Topics: Sales, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Sales Compensation, Sales Operations, commission, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM)

Salesforce Analytics Cloud Delivers Wave of Elegant Dashboards

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 5, 2014 8:25:12 AM

At this year's Dreamforce more than 140,000 people gathered in San Francisco to share the excitement about the use of technology for business. Salesforce.com’s annual conference has reached megashow status, which is a mixed blessing: Dreamforce remains social in its design, but it has become impersonal due to its size. In any case Salesforce had plenty to show off. The company has continued to enhance its cloud-based business applications for sales and customer service, and in the last year it has added marketing through acquisitions. It also has advanced the attraction of its cloud computing platform; even IT departments see its approach as a simple way to use and build applications, especially mobile ones which the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets have made critical to business. Cloud computing is becoming the defacto approach for new applications and software for business and now IT, and its importance continues to grow: Our benchmark research on business technology innovation shows that it is important or very important to more than half (57%) of organizations. At Dreamforce, Salesforce announced Salesforce1 Lightning (available in 2015), a way to assemble mobile applications that can operate across platforms. Salesforce makes the technical details of the mobile platform transparent and facilitates assembly of mobile applications.

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Topics: Sales, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence (BI), Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Salesforce

Oracle Provides Cloud Platform and Applications for Everyone in Sales

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 4, 2014 9:13:46 PM

At its Oracle OpenWorld the multibillion technology provider showcased the breadth and depth of its cloud computing applications and platform. Chairman Larry Ellison proclaimed it the only unified and open approach in the industry. He criticized other large application vendors that use multiple platforms to support their applications, use a proprietary layer that is not fully extensible, provide only a portion of applications needed to run the business or run on Oracle’s database technology. These technical merits may not be relevant to the decision-making processes of business but can be critical for CIO and IT. But the strength of the Oracle Cloud Computing portfolio, which includes infrastructure, platform, tools and applications, is so impressive that our firm awarded Oracle the Technology Innovation Award in Cloud Computing for 2014. This builds from my analysis earlier in the year on the overall efforts of Oracle for cloud computing.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Sales Compensation, Sales Operations, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence (BI), Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), SFA