Denis Pombriant

About the Author Denis Pombriant


Vendors

Dreamforce Redux

Dreamforce for many years has been too big for a single person to cover. While I participate in covering events like this, inevitably I am reduced to the story of the three blind people and the elephant. You can’t experience enough of the elephant to describe it unless you can see it. Using your hands leaves you frustrated. In the case of Dreamforce, you can’t go to all of the sessions.

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Trends

AI’s Moment

There recently has been an increase in the talk — pro and con — about bots, AI and intelligent assistants. A lot of this talk has been percolating around the industry for decades. Silicon Collar, a book by Vinnie Mirchandani, a friend and truly gifted analyst, accepts that automation might be eliminating jobs, but it optimistically holds out for the silver lining.

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Vendors

What to Expect at Dreamforce 16

Something tells me that if Salesforce already leaked news about its new AI product, Einstein, that it might not be the biggest news that will emerge from Dreamforce next week. However, I also think Einstein will be involved in whatever is the big takeaway. Salesforce has become rather large, with $8 billion-plus in revenue. A member of the Fortune 500, it still tries to be nimble.

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Vendors

Oracle OpenWorld

Larry Ellison was having too much fun. In his second keynote of this year’s Oracle OpenWorld user conference, he was talking about his company’s database, Oracle 12c, and comparing it highly favorably to Amazon’s competing databases. It seems Ellison always has fun, which is one likely reason that the 72 year-old CTO and executive chairman of the board, looks 52, sounds 42, and probably feels 32.

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Trends

Work in a New Automation Era

Automation has a habit of killing jobs, which has been true since the Industrial Revolution. However, it seems that we’re discovering this truth all over again. We easily forget when we focus only on the job-creation aspects of automation, and that usually gets us in trouble. Since the IR, there have been five distinct economic waves lasting between 50 and 60 years.

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Vendors

Oracle Does the Cloud Dance

Sunday’s Oracle OpenWorld keynotes were good — especially compared with prior years — but they still suffered from the perennial problem of trying to stuff too much content into a two-hour event. Diane Bryant, SVP at Intel and a big Oracle partner, spent an hour covering a very broad landscape. Perhaps the most interesting information in Bryant’s presentation concerned Intel’s new line of chips.

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Vendors

Oracle’s Earnings Call

Oracle is flying high as it goes into its annual Oracle OpenWorld customer conference, based on the news from its earnings call on Thursday. It’s clear that the company has succeeded in pivoting from on-premises to cloud software offerings. The revenue acceleration from cloud products and services suggests that Oracle will derive an increasing share of its future revenues from cloud solutions.

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Vendors

Dreaming Up Einstein

Salesforce isn’t waiting for Dreamforce to begin the drumbeat over its AI offering called “Einstein.” There is so much to discuss about this turn of events that it’s hard to begin, so rather than starting at a conventional jumping-off point I’ll start with the name. You couldn’t have lived at any point in the 20th century and not have some idea of who Albert Einstein was.

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Customer Experience

Harlequin Romances Customers

I recently read a user story about how Harlequin — a publisher of romance novels — keeps its customers loyal. It has embraced several ideas that work really well, including emphasizing a consciousness of customer loyalty, keeping things simple, and focusing on personalizing relationships and engagement. Consciousness is relatively easy, but someone high on the org chart has to promote it.

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Customer Service

American Breaks People

It’s easy to lose sight of people in a CRM discussion, focusing instead on the great technology and what it does under optimum circumstances. We should keep the customer in mind at all times, however, for without them what are we? Forgetting the customer is dangerous both for customers and vendors in this social age. Far from being a universal good, automation can obstruct human interactions.

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Business

In a Political Season

Many, if not most, people I know don’t want to talk about it — the election, that is. Lots of them have views but they don’t want to share them, based on a dislike of contentiousness. Who likes conflict? There is an article floating around the Internet that I lost track of that says nobody’s mind ever changes in a heated debate about something so vital, so why engage?

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Enterprise Apps

Enterprise Software’s Future

What’s the direction of the software industry? I’m not indulging in idle curiosity — things are changing, and today’s events are signaling a significant shift. The rollout of Software as a Service and the emergence of relatively good platforms — which will only get better — suggest to me that the software industry of 2000, in which cloud and SaaS began to emerge, is now well in the past.

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Customer Experience

The 4 Fundamental Attributes of Customer Loyalty, Part 4

If you want to succeed at engaging customers, or anyone else for that matter, it helps to have a model of what success looks like. This idea isn’t new. Elite athletes train themselves to see a perfect race in their mind’s eye, or to imagine the arc of a ball to its flawless conclusion. Scientists model physical and chemical reactions that occur at a scale too small to view directly.

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Enterprise Apps

Heating Up the Platform Wars

We’ve seen a rapid progression from conventional licensed software to cloud-based solutions that sell for a song — and in theory could sell through barter at some point. I am not a big fan of zero marginal cost economics, in which prices drop to zip because buyers take into account only the cost of the good and not the time, effort, and other resources that went into making it No. 1.

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Customer Service

The 4 Fundamental Attributes of Customer Loyalty, Part 3

Dealing with customers in context can equate with personalization, as many define it. Or it can refer to enabling customers to jump out of a largely automated customer-facing process to deal with a company representative. Additionally, it can mean getting down in the weeds of some hyper-specific aspect of a customer’s issue. A lot depends on what the vendor and customer are trying to accomplish.

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Enterprise Apps

Platform as a Platform

The platform land rush is definitely on. You can’t swing a dead cat, as the saying goes, without finding an announcement about some new platform or some established vendor’s attempt to enhance its existing platform. Some sorting out seems to be in order. What’s not a platform these days? Well, if it’s easy to substitute the word “application” for “platform,” then you should use “application.”

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Customer Experience

The 4 Fundamental Attributes of Customer Loyalty, Part 2

Lots of CRM vendors talk about personalization, but their idea of how to do it leaves much to be desired. They address personalization very late, using a just-in-time approach to accessing customer data to support a sales or service encounter in the moment. This certainly is important, and it achieves the goal of personalizing the encounter by producing a catalog of data points.

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Trends

Social’s Turning Point

Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn for more than $26 billion has created quite a stir — at least in my world. The deal can boast a number of superlatives: the largest sale of a consumer Internet company in history; the largest sale of an enterprise software/cloud company in history; the third-largest sale of a technology company since 2001; and the largest Microsoft acquisition ever.

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Strategy

Salesforce’s TrailheaDX

Salesforce held TrailheaDX last week — its first event just for software developers. It previously relied on special sessions at events such as Dreamforce to educate developers, but its declared intention to train up to 100 million of them in its Lightning development environment dictated taking additional action. Anyone should be able to learn development skills, Salesforce contends.

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Strategy

The Marginal Customer

I start a lot of client engagements with a simple question: Who’s the customer? It’s amazing the answers that I get. Some people know the customer’s demographic and business or personal needs, and they focus on those things. Others don’t even grasp the difference between a customer and a consumer. You might expect this if you are working in the B2C rather than B2B space.

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