Archive for marketing

Salesforce.com Wave May Matter A Lot… Or Not At All.

This week at the Salesforce.com Dreamforce event, amongst the all the charity appeals and hugging, alongside the usual advances in Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud, there was one announcement that was truly interesting. While the other technology advancements were important, especially to customers of Sales, Service, and Marketing Cloud, this one was significant. It’s the new cloud, the Analytics Cloud, which was given the moniker “Wave”. In true Salesforce.com fashion CEO Benioff and Company are not just dipping their toes in the waters. They are diving in head first. Wave is a full-fledged business intelligence tool capable of making sense out of the treasure trove that is contained in Salesforce.com databases. So much more than simple reporting, which usually only benefits management, Wave attempts to bring relevant information to the small fish in the organization to help them perform better.

For the Salesforce.com customer, especially those who are all-in with marketing, sales, and service, Wave will be a boon. Simply put, it’s easy. The data is already in the various Salesforce.com clouds, the models are already developed by Salesforce.com, and the UI is designed for a typical Salesforce.com user/customer. I predict that sales and marketing managers already using Salesforce.com products will be attracted to it.

Unless of course you need to import other data in in which case the argument for going Wave is less. Yes, Wave can also integrate external data sources but I can’t imagine data integration still won’t be a difficult. It also means that the decision to surf the Wave will no longer be one that sales and marketing can make on their own. IT will need to get involved and they may have thoughts of their own when it comes to BI tools. For example, IT and legal may not be pleased with pushing operational or product data up into the Salesforce.com cloud. Issues of security and privacy take on new meaning when company financial information or supply chain information is placed in someone else’s control. Even if you are only looking to Wave for sales and marketing data, the attraction diminishes when you are not an all-Salesforce.com customer. Imagine the complexity of integrating data from with multiple cloud vendors? If you like Sales Cloud for CRM but are keen on Oracle Marketing Cloud or Adobe Marketing Cloud (yes they all call their marketing suites the same thing), then a more vendor neutral solution would seem safer or at potentially easier.

Wave is a necessary step forward and is done with the usual Salesforce.com flourish. For much of the existing Salesforce.com customer base, Wave will be a great product with tangible benefits. From the point of view of the sales, service, or marketing team member already using a Salesforce.com, Wave will feel like empowerment. For more heterogeneous environments though, Wave probably won’t make much of a difference. Hopefully, the Salesaforce.com sales force can use Wave themselves to tell when it’s worthwhile to push the new product and when it’s a waste of time.

What Do Analysts (Like Me) Look For?

This is an excerpt from a larger paper (maybe ebook) I’ve been writing on how companies interact with industry analysts. It is especially useful to companies that can’t seem to get traction with analysts. If you think that you can’t get the attention of analysts because your company is too small, the analyst business is a racket, your PR person is lazy and stupid, etc. then read this and see if it applies to you. There’s a good chance it does. Most analysts are bombarded with briefing requests from companies who seem to have no unique value i.e. are me-too companies.

 

Analysts look for a number of elements when looking at a company and product. Probably the most important is unique business value. What does this product or company bring to customers that no other does? How will they shake up the market? Unique value comes from a variety of sources but especially:

  • An exceptional product or feature. What about the product makes it special to customers? If a product can solve a difficult problem that no one else can, there is unique value. When products entertain, that too generates important value. Keep in mind, technology is not a product. Technology enables products but products are something people can use and will pay money for.
  • A disruptive business model. Many of the greatest companies are built on boring products but new business models. A company that can produce, sell, or distribute the same product in a new way will often beat their competitors. Amazon is a good example of a company that has done this several times. When they started selling books to people it was nothing new. Selling books over the internet, which allowed for rock bottom prices and unlimited selection, was very new.
  • New forms of operating a business. Delivering best in class service and support, superior manufacturing quality and speed, and high degrees of customization are all bound tightly to the operations of a company. Companies with flexible and efficient operations tend to bring customers special value even if it’s not seen that way. Dell, for example, may have started as a company with a unique business model for the time – they were less expensive because they only sold over the phone and then through the internet – but that special value has long passed. Instead, their manufacturing capabilities and efficiencies have allowed them to create highly personalized versions of standard computer products as quickly, efficiently, and inexpensively as if they were standard products.

Besides unique value, analysts will also look for visionaries since these often signal the future of the market. This is especially true of the CEO. If the CEO seems hidebound, it’s likely the company will be equally so and will possess little unique value going forward. Vision is useless, however, if the company cannot execute on the vision. Most analysts will try and understand whether a company has the operational capacity, financial resources, and sheer will to make the vision a reality.

 

Hope that helps.