Denis Pombriant

About the Author Denis Pombriant


Trends

CRM Health Check

As an industry, CRM continues to grow and shower benefits on its users. It’s hard to imagine that some businesses still don’t use some form of CRM, but recent data suggests there are still businesses buying their first CRM solutions or changing vendors. It’s a compilation of data from all over, with some credible inputs from a number of sources, so it’s worth taking a look.

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Strategy

Yes, and…

The further we go in the CRM adventure, the less our efforts seem to be about technology. That’s because we’re reaching a theoretical limit, or asymptote, on what technology can do in the vendor-customer relationship. Think of an asymptote as the ceiling that a graph never reaches. Increasingly, we’re encountering situations where the best technology can do is assist humans.

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Enterprise Apps

Spanning Front and Back Offices

CPQ — that is, configure, price, quote — is one of the most transitional apps, because it spans front and back offices, and because its very existence has changed these functions. Another app in this category is sales compensation management. Both of their stories are about front-office processes needing back-office data. Once the data is made available, the process evolves to be far more useful.

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Deals

Sage Buys Intacct

Sage’s Tuesday announcement of its agreement to buy Intacct prompts a multilayered look at the evolution of the cloud ERP space. Both companies are partners with Salesforce and have products based on the Salesforce platform. Each is a member of the AppExchange, and both are situated in the broad cloud ERP space, which has been receiving a lot of attention lately as the market seems to be moving en masse, albeit glacially, to the cloud.

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Strategy

Elon Musk: Luddite?

It’s hard to believe that the founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX could have such reactionary views about AI. Elon Musk last weekend had some very un-Musk-like things to say about AI when he addressed the U.S. National Governors Association meeting in Providence, Rhode Island. “AI is a fundamental existential risk for human civilization, and I don’t think people fully appreciate that,” Musk said.

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Strategy

A New Service Model

People concerned about automation killing jobs might look at Helpshift’s strategy and similar automation approaches. By enabling businesses to build help or support into mobile apps, these new models are re-inventing support to get the job done. Sure, they provide automated support in lieu of conventional agents, but they do so at a level where it often can be uneconomic to position live agents.

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Vendors

Trailhead Matrix

Salesforce had a strong showing at its TrailheaDX developer conference, roughly quadrupling last year’s attendance and flooding its developers with new technology. Over the last few years, the company has built out a multidimensional matrix of product offerings that include CRM components like SFA and customer service, but it has been careful to introduce back-end technology products as well.

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Trends

Naming the Ephemeral

So much is happening as we approach the end of Q2 — our industry’s busiest quarter, at least by some measures. I’m flying around seeing things but not always able to comment from a middle seat on a red-eye. So this piece is an attempt to catch up and set some markers for the traditionally slower summer. I’ve been searching for a word to describe a new category I see: Service as a Service.

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Trends

Where FinancialForce Fits

FinancialForce held its first big time user conference in Las Vegas last week, headlined by new CEO Tod Nielsen. The company seems to be telling us that it is adjusting course in an effort to create a new category aligned with enterprise resource planning, but very much for this century. The key concept is services, which must be explained.

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Vendors

Salesforce Parallelism

For several years now, Salesforce has built distinct product lines that all work off the same platform and can integrate in interesting ways. There are product lines for the enterprise, small and mid-sized businesses, business-to-business firms and business-to-consumer operations — and probably some others that I haven’t considered. The rationale for all of these new products is simple.

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Trends

The [xxx] Economy

While sitting in the audience at Zuora’s recent Subscribed event, I couldn’t help contemplate the meaning and progress of what was once a set of words that didn’t roll off the tongue. I am talking about the “subscription economy” — and it’s really something. The data coming in from a variety of sources shows how rapidly subscriptions have become a big part of our lives, and why not?

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Vendors

The Subscription Economy’s Maturation

A lot happens in a decade. Bill Gates once said that we overestimate what we can do in two years and underestimate what we can do in 10. 2017 is a particularly good time to stop paddling and look back at what’s been going on in the last decade. While we will all have our favorite memories, there’s one in CRM that stands out more than others for me. After all, 2007 was the year of the iPhone.

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Analytics

Building a Sales Team by the Numbers

I don’t know why more subscription vendors don’t do this. Subscription companies collect mountains of data from their customers, and analyzing the aggregations can deliver profound insights virtually for free. Yet too often subscribers are reluctant to let their data be stripped of identifying characteristics and used for research. Too bad, because there’s gold in that big data.

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Vendors

Helpshift Integrates With Salesforce

Mobile technology has delivered a lot of useful functionality that enables vendors and their customers to be on the same page more frequently. However, the screen size has an inherent drawback: It shows a very narrow slice of a reality — typically one idea at a time. The problem is especially acute in the key areas of sales and service. A mobile “help” app should deliver help the customer values.

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Vendors

Ecosystem Two-Dot-Oh

Salesforce this week announced significant enhancements to its AppExchange Partner Program, including a $100 million Salesforce Platform Fund to encourage developers of AI-driven solutions. Salesforce arguably was the first kid on the block with a partner program of this kind in which buyers could access a large community of apps based on a single standard from a single store.

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Trends

Reasoning in CRM

It gives some measure of the importance we give to AI that I went to two conferences last week and sat through two panel sessions on the subject. At CRM Evolution, I was part of the discussion in a breakfast session. At the Oracle CX show, executives involved in the adaptive intelligent applications product line tried to define the basics in a session for analysts and reporters.

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Customer Experience

Then and Now

A few years ago, when Oracle was busy buying companies to fill out its front-office cloud offering, RightNow developed a “day in the life” video that has stuck with me. It was shown at RightNow’s last user meeting as an independent company. In fact, at the conference where it debuted, Oracle announced its acquisition of RightNow. The video’s importance was as a harbinger of things to come.

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Vendors

Oracle’s Strategery

Watching Oracle’s cloud strategy roll out has given me renewed respect for its approach to the market. As a company that has been public for a long stretch of time, Oracle has displayed all the warmth of an anaconda. I have friends there, and they are not anacondas, but I hope they know what I mean. Oracle knows its business and it’s making money, and it does it unabashedly.

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Deals

It’s Mud Season Again

It’s mud season here in New England — that time of year when everything merges into an amorphous mess. The gray sky merges with a gray landscape made into slop by continual rains and dirty gray melting snow. It’s hard to tell where one thing ends and another begins. Eventually the sun comes out and dries everything, the sky becomes distinct from the horizon, plants bloom, and order is restored.

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Enterprise Apps

Blockchain: CRM’s Next Frontier

We’ve seen a parade of technologies coming into the front office since 2000, including browser-based cloud computing, social media, mobile technology, workflow, journey mapping, and big data and analytics. It’s typical that at first there’s only a tenuous relationship between the technology and CRM’s original mission, but over a short time innovators adopt and commercialize the innovation.

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Analytics

Analytics and Workflow

There’s a big difference between B2C and B2B analytics that no vendors seem to be addressing, and it involves the consumption model. I recently spoke with K.V. Rao, founder and chief strategy officer of Aviso, an analytics company focused on sales, and his unabashed opinion is that “if you’re trying to expose insights and make things consumable, you have to address workflow.”

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Analytics

New Rules

One of the foundational ideas of business is the Pareto analysis, which tries to identify the small portion of factors that are responsible for the majority of business results. You know — 80 percent of profits come from 20 percent of the customer base, and similar observations. Vilfredo Pareto formulated a business classic that we now refer to simply as “the 80/20 rule.”

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