Posts Tagged ‘customer relationship management’

News Analysis: Vertical Solutions Extends Customer Experience And Field Service Footprint With Three Partnerships

Vertical Solutions Partnerships Showcase Why Complex Field Service Is A Critical Glue Between ERP and CRM In Improving Customer Experience


Announced March 4th, 2014 at the Microsoft Convergence event, Vertical Solutions, made three significant partnerships with Blue Horseshoe Solutions, Cincom, and Vidcie.  The Cincinnati, Ohio based customer experience software vendor provides cloud contact center and service management solutions that bridge the worlds of physical goods with customer experience.  The analysis of the three announcements show:

  • Where after market sales and service creates a strategic differentiator for Cincom. Cincom signed a reseller partnership with Vertical Solutions for integrated Field Service Management and Maintenance Repair Operations.  Cincom is a global Microsoft ISV for manufacturing. The partnership allows Cincom to resell VSI’s Service Lifecycle Management Solution with Cincom’s Business Suite for Microsoft Dynamics AX.

    Point of View (POV):
    In the current digital business transformation, manufacturers realize that product margins can no longer sustain growth.  While service revenues, warranty management, and installation can provide additional revenues, organizations must move from selling products to keeping brand promises.  Post sales service is a key component to ensuring that the brand promise is kept for manufacturers.
  • Why supply chain and post sales service should team up to improve customer experience in the Blue Horseshoe partnership. Blue Horseshoe provides a Supply Chain Suite for Microsoft Dynamics AX.  The partnership ties customer support, field service and mobile environments with logistics, supply chain, transportation management, advanced warehousing, and order completion.

    (POV):
    While the Blue Horseshoe solution provides a robust capability in supply chain, Vertical Solutions provides post sales and complex field service requirements.  These requirements enable customers to deliver on the complete order management cycle.  In speaking with several Blue Horseshoe and Microsoft Dynamics AX customers, they have a need to reduce warranty costs and improve customer satisfaction through improved first visit resolution programs.  Constellation believes that customers do not care what department resolves the issue, just that the issue is resolved across the continuum of customer engagement.
  • How video streaming can provide real-time access to experts through the Vidcie partnership. The partnership with Vidcie allows customers to integrate video streaming technology into the VSI enterprise Service Lifecycle Management solution VServiceManagement.  Vidcie is a Silicon Valley based hands free live streaming, mobile, and wearable technology provider.  Vidcie is More…

Event Report: Microsoft Convergence 2014 Day 1 Demonstrates Solid Momentum and Mindshare ( #CONV14 )

Microsoft Convergence Kicks Off In Atlanta

The annual Microsoft Convergence customer event kicked off on March 4th, 2014.  Far from the days of the Stampede in Fargo, North Dakota, the event shows how far the Microsoft Dynamics customers, partners, and products have progressed.  Over 12,000 attendees including customers, partners, staff, and prospects gathered in Atlanta, GA for the largest Microsoft Enterprise Applications conference.  The sold out event featured a volunteer program on Day 0 and a good number of partner meetings the weekend before.  Analysis from four key announcements on Day 1 include:

  • Microsoft Dynamics gaining momentum on the large enterprise and divisions of large enterprises. Key customers presenting in the opening keynote include Chobani, City Harvest Inc, Delta Airlines, Lotus F1 Team, New Belgium Brewery, and Weight Watchers.  These presenting customers share a key theme of customer centricity and a Microsoft enterprise backbone.  Moreover, many showcase the devices and services theme set by former CEO Steve Ballmer.

    Point of View (POV):
    Constellation sees a growing trend where organizations and brands move to Dynamics for both CRM and ERP.  The ability to integrate back to other Microsoft technologies such as SharePoint, Office 365, and Azure Services provides both a pull and a push.  As organizations think about consolidating vendors and moving to the cloud, the Microsoft Dynamics team provides some compelling options in manufacturing, retail, distribution, public sector, professional services, and travel and entertainment.  The launch of a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Enterprise License at $200 per user per month show cases the move upmarket.
  • Dynamics CRM users gain key marketing and social capabilities. Microsoft announces the next release of Dynamics CRM in Q2 of 2014.  Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, which was formed from the Marketing Pilot acquisition , debuts to assist with campaign management.  The service and support offering gains new features such as Unified Service Desk along with closer integration to recently acquired Parature.  Newly launched Microsoft Social Listening launches at no additional charge for Dynamics CRM Online professional license holders.

    (POV):
    The rewrite of acquired entity Marketing Pilot provides some improvement to the original product.  Parity at the Exact Target and Hubspot level will take at least two to three more releases.  Release of unified service desk paired with Parature, provides a powerful combination in customer service and support.  Microsoft Social Listening finally provides customers with a social tool that has been sorely missing in the line up.  More importantly, in CRM and customer experience, the mobile access options have not forced customers onto Windows Phone and instead have provided native support of iOS and Android..
  • Dynamics ERP users prepare for new releases. Dynamics GP gets a release for Q1 2014 that includes identity management, workflow, and self service companion apps.  Dynamics NAV shoudl receive an update in Q4 2014.  More importantly, the team announced the availability of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 for May 1st 2014.  Key themes include mobile enablement, support for deployment on Windows Azure in the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) layer, and an end to end apps and services framework.  .  The cross offering with the Windows Azure team is the Microsoft Dynamics Lifecycle Services which improve implementation times and enable agile updates.

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News Analysis: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Acquires Parature For Customer Service Capabilities

Dynamics CRM Gains Key Technology and Team To Take Existing Customer Care Assets To Next Level


On January 7th, 2014, The Microsoft Dynamics CRM team announced a definitive agreement to acquire Herndon, VA based Parature for an undisclosed sum.  This acquisition is Microsoft Dynamic’s CRM’s largest to date. Parature is an East Coast software start-up success story founded in 2000 by five Cornell students including Duke Chung.  Originally named Cyracle Technologies, the company’s first product addressed the live chat market.  Current CEO, Ching-Ho Fung, the first angel behind Blackboard, provided the initial angel investment in 2001.  Parature’s key investors include Valhalla Partners, Sierra Ventures, and Accel Partners.  The acquisition is significant for both Parature and Microsoft Dynamics Customers because:

  • Parature fills in a key gap in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM offering. Microsoft CRM currently has a customer care offering that delivers core customer service with case management, universal queuing and routing, and light scheduling and field service.  Parature provides key self-service knowledge base software, core customer service,  live chat, mobile access, survey and feedback capabilities, social monitoring, and Facebook portal capabilities to the Microsoft service offering.

    Point of View (POV):
    Microsoft’s core strengths have come from the sales automation product and the tight integration with Office.  Since 2012, with the arrival of Corporate Vice President, Bob Stutz, the Dynamics CRM team has sought to round out the rest of the customer experience offering.   (Note: Bob Stutz was a key force in the development of Siebel CRM and SAP CRM.)  The acquisition of Marketing Pilot provided a key building block for marketing automation.  This acquisition of Parature adds to General Manager Jujhar Singh’s investments in customer care.  Dynamics CRM customers gain the knowledge base functionality in Parature, which is the crown jewel.  This knowledge base was recently rearchitected and one of the most modern in the industry.  Parature customers will gain greater investment in the customer service and support product line with deeper integrations to a full customer experience suite.
  • Parature adds 70 million end users to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM ecosystem. The company has built a strong foothold in key industries such as education, gaming, high-tech, non-profit associations, online media, public sector, and travel.  Major brands include Ask.com, Asure Software, ATRA, Brenau University, BuilderMT, CompTIA, e-MDs, EPA, Florida Atlantic University, Hitachi Data Systems, IBM, IGN Entertainment, iWin, NASA SEWP, PlayFirst, SoftChalk, Threadless, Top Down Systems, TMA Resources, and Travel Lodge UK.

    (POV):
    Parature’s relentless focus on customer success has led to tremendous growth.  In 2013, Parature doubled its end user count from 35 million in 2011 to 70 million.  Microsoft’s team will More…

News Analysis: Verint Announces Intent To Acquire Kana For $514M

Verint Adds to Vovici and Contact Center Assets To Expand Customer Engagement Offerings


On January 6th, Melville, NY based Verint® Systems announced a $514M intent to acquire Sunnyvale, CA, KANA Software.  Verint is a software vendor with a core in analytical software.  Verint’s core offerings provide enterprise intelligence and security intelligence.  The acquisition is significant in the market because:

  • Big data and analytics meet customer experience. Verint expects to expand its customer engagement optimization offering with the acquisition of Kana.  Verint’s core capabilites, Vovici’s voice of the customer assets, and Kana’s multichannel customer experience solutions allow customers to move from data to information to insight to action or decisions.

    Point of View (POV):
    Bringing intelligence into customer experience adds context and relevancy. This combination is a key step in moving from systems of engagement to systems of mass personalization at scale.  Constellation expects more acquisitions that combine the 5 pillars of digital business – social, mobile, cloud, big data and analytics, and unified communications.
  • Verint gains key customers and industries. Verint’s key customer base of 10,000 customers gets 900 new customers in six key industires.  Kana’s base includes a variety of marquee brands and public sector agencies in the mid market to enterprise space.  Business service customers include Hyatt, Starwood, USPS, and Priceline.com.  Communications and media customers include O2, Comcast, Cox, Quest, Talk Talk Group, Telekom Austria, Telus, Time Warner Cable,  Tracfone, Virgin Mobile, and Vodafone.  Financial services customers include Admiral, Bank Leumi, Capital One, Chase, Citigroup, Domestic and General HSBC, ING, Barclays,  Standard Bank, and VHI.  Retail and wholesale clients include American Greetings, Avon, Carglass, Conrad, Foot Locker, Hanes More…

Tuesday’s Tip: Seven Lessons Learned In Customer Experience Strategies During A Data Breach (such as Target’s)

Every Brand Should Have A Plan For A Data Breach

The confluence of centralized personally identifiable information, reliance on digital channels, ease of hacking of magnetic stripes, and the application of the Willy Sutton rule ( a.k.a. you rob banks because that’s where the money is) improve the odds that many organizations will face a data breach.  The question is not whether one will happen, but more a question of when and to what extent.  How a brand addresses the customer experience component during a data breach will have significant impact that will subsume all other brand efforts up and until the data breach.

Source: Target

On December 19th, Target confirmed reports of a data breach affecting 40 million customers between November 27th and December 15th, 2013.  In conversation with over 30 customer experience professionals, many lessons have been learned from the recent Target breach and the largest breach with TJX (TJ Maxx and Marshall’s).  The following seven approaches highlight pragmatic and effective strategies to responding and mitigating the damage:

  1. Begin by isolating and understanding the root cause of the breach. Understanding the root cause enables a realistic understanding of all the options.  While it may take some time to get to the source, the investment in resources is worth it.  The truth will set you free from weaving an ever growing snow ball of lies and half truths.  Saying that you don’t know yet is not good enough.  Sharing how you are resolving or approaching the problem helps folks understand the why not the what.
  2. Catalyze a crisis command center. The command center should not be an after thought but part of the communications readiness training.  Prioritize key data. Put all your data sources to work.  Identify a protocol for decision making.  Quickly agree on talking points and messaging.  Democratize decision making and out reach to as many spokes persons as possible.  Apply the 9C’s of engagement to build out the crisis journey map.  While Target has an excellent social media program, the challenge is tackling crisis communications in defense not offense during the holiday season.
  3. Trust that transparency is the right course of action. Communicate the breach as early as possible. Do not try to cover it up as Target did. In fact, Target was outed by security expert Brian Krebs first, then Target had to come clean. The result has been disastrous.  Get in front of the issue.  It’s always easier to proactively influence than react.  Customers ultimately value transparency when they can understand the process and the efforts provided to date.  Outcomes ultimately matter but in the absence of a solution, upfront communication of the situation and approach helps bridge the trust gap. More…

News Analysis: Sitecore Acquires Commerce Server In Quest Towards Customer Experience Management

Commerce Server Finds Its Logical Home

On Wednesday November 20th, 2013, Copenhagen, Denmark based Sitecore acquired Ottawa, Canada based commerceserver.net for an undisclosed price.  Originally known as the Microsoft Siteserver and Commerce Server 2000, the product was orphaned by Microsoft,  then Ascentium, the key development partner were given the rights to further develop and market the product.  Adding to the lore, Ascentium changed their name to SMITH in the Fall of 2012 and the product group was rebranded to commerceserver.net.

Sitecore’s acquisition continues a consolidation trend in the Matrix Commerce market where vendors are aggregating technologies to support a buyer centric approach to customer experience.  Constellation believes customers should pay attention because Sitecore:

  • Signals seriousness to deliver on end to end customer experience. Sitecore’s portfolio includes its core web content management offerings and an emerging set of digital marketing assets.  Commerce Server adds key B2C functionality for hard goods, digital goods, and web based services; B2B capabilities in trading communities and e-procurement; complex B2X scenarios; and personalized portals.

    Point of View (POV):
    Addition of commerceserver.net fills one key hole in Sitecore’s customer experience management portfolio.  Customers and prospects can expect additional acquisitions from the new management team.   In fact, the company has brought in heavy hitters such as a new CRO and CMO over the past 12 months.  Constellation believes that Sitecore is serious in completing key holes in the end to end customer experience story and moving up the stack to support a range of small to large enterprise customers.  In fact, Commerce Sever 10 scales up to support 220,000o orders/day on a 12 hour peak, 60 million user profiles, 10 million item catalogs, 100,000 catalogs and virtual catalogs, and hosting support for 100 active, 1000 provisioned.  Constellation believes the acquistion places Sitecore in the direct battle with Adobe, IBM, Oracle, and SAP for customer experience and commerce.
  • Ensures Commerce Server a friendly and natural home. Commerce Server brings its core Microsoft heritage.  Dependencies include Microsoft SQL Server, .NET,  Commerce Server Staging (CSS), and Component Object Model.  Commerce Server also plays well with other Microsoft server stack components including Biz Talk Server and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server.  Sitecore’s software is built on a Microsoft.NET platform.  Deployable in Microsoft Azure, the core CMS can use Oracle or Microsoft for the database and content can be stored in either .NET or XML objects.

    (POV):
    Customers should find relief that the Commerce Server assets return back to a product centric company.  While SMITH (formerly known as Ascentium), a digital experience agency, served as a reasonable owner and even delivered the latest version 10 release, software cultures and services business models often clash.  Why? The research and development investment required to take products to market work against the resource utilization and project focus required for successful services.  Constellation will measure integration success by how well the team builds and accelerates the original major release plans (see Figure 1).
  • Gains critical ecosystem assets. Commerce Server brings 3000 customers and 25 partners around the world.  Partners range from 17 enterprise providers, hosting providers, training, ISV, and consultants. Key industries for Commerce Server include retail, manufacturing, and e-government.  Sitecore brings over 3000 customers, 1000 certified business partners in 50 countries, 8,000 certified developers, and 17,000 active members in the developer ecosystem.

    (POV):
    Prior to the acquisition, Commerce Server product holes included content management, search, analytics, campaign management, and other key customer experience management capabilities.  Sitecore fills many of these product gaps and adds a larger ecosystem.  Customers can expect significant cross-training among the partners as they integrate the Commerce Server assets into their portfolios.

Figure 1. The Pre SiteCore Acquisition Commerce Server Road Map More…

News Analysis: Salesforce 1 Signals Support For Digital Business at #DF13

Salesforce Seeks To Tackle Digital Business At Dreamforce

Over 125,000 virtual and physical registrants descend on San Francisco the week of November 17th for Dreamforce 13, a future of technology meets SXSW event.  One day in advance of the largest enterprise software event of its kind, Salesforce.com announces Salesforce 1 (see Figure 1).  The Salesforce 1 customer platform seeks to address a cadre of emerging digital business requirements that customer centric companies face.

Figure 1. Salesforce 1 Customer Platform Intends to Support The Internet Of Customers

Source: Salesforce.com

SalesForce 1 Reflects Much Needed Refresh Of Existing Platform

The new customer platform includes platform services, platform APIs, and the Apps created from the platform.  Salesforce 1 platform services includes refreshes in Force.com, updates in Heroku, and adds Exact Target Fuel.  As expected, Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Exact Target Marketing Cloud, and Apps Exchange sit on top of the salesforce1.com platform (see Figure 2).

The key analysis of this release include:

  • Internet of Customers support. Salesforce includes social, mobile, cloud, and connected as the key components for The Internet of Things.  In order to meet the requirements of a third wave of computing that moves from Internet of Things to what Salesforce calls the Internet of Customers, the new platform is designed to support this customer centricity convergence.

    Point of View (POV):
    Constellation sees more than 50B connected devices and at least 150B connected endpoints by 2020.  The opportunity is huge.  While Salesforce.com addresses 3 out of the 5 key components of digital business, the vendor still needs to provide video/unified communications and big data/analytics.  Constellation believes the big data and analytics opportunity is critical to enhancing customer experiences, to benchmarking and brokering data servcies, and to buildoing new business models around big data and analytics.  Customers should encourage Salesforce.com to consider how to enable big data business models in digital business in the next iteration.  Meanwhile, most customers can wait until future releases for video and UC requirements to be met.
  • Next generation apps developer platform. The PaaS layer adds a mobile first orientation that enables a write once and deploy anywhere platform. Developers can now deploy to a range of social, mobile, and connected devices.  The platform services include 10X more API functionality.   Developers can build customer apps, wearable apps, product apps, and salesforce apps.

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Trends: Real World Lessons In Optimizing The Customer Service Experience From Kana Connect

Workshop On Optimizing Your Customer Service Experience Identifies Eight Strategies
At the 2013 Kana Connect event from September 15th to 17th, 2013 in New Orleans, I had the pleasure of co-leading a workshop with Scott Hays a Sr. Director, Product Marketing for KANA Software.  The goal of the session was to explore eight strategies to improve customer experience. 

By now, you are well aware that “experience counts.” Your customers’ loyalty and future purchases hang in the balance. In this session, we’ll explore the key things you can do to make sure their experiences are positive. Ray Wang from Constellation Research and Scott Hays from KANA guide an interactive workshop to invigorate your future initiatives.

Speaker(s): Scott Hays, Ray Wang, Constellation Research

The event began with a overview of  Constellation 9C’s of customer engagement  and then an overview of the eight ways to optimize your customer service experience.  Teams were broken up to documen current state and to rank future state.  Teams were told to identify the top three ways among these eight strategies:

  1. Effortless and personalized
  2. Channel convenience
  3. Channel consistency
  4. Social media
  5. Unified agent desktop
  6. Agent knowledge
  7. Process-driven
  8. Internationalization

Results Show Future Focus on Channel Consistency, Social Media, and Effortless and Personalized

Given the Kana customer base, current state priorities of agent knowledge, process driven, and channel convenience came as little surprise to the participants.  In fact, most workshop attendees have had More…

News Analysis: Clarabridge Raises $80M in Funding For Expansion

General Catalyst, Summit, and Yuchun Lee To Take Clarabridge To Next Phase Of Growth

Rapidly growing Reston, VA based Clarabridge, announced on September 10, 2013 a $80 million round of capital.  Founded in 2006, Clarabridge is a leading provider of customer experience solutions.  The funding announcement is significant as Clarabridge:

  • Invests into global expansion and product innovation. General Catalyst Partners, Summit Partners, and Yuchun Lee invests in the latest round .  Clarabridge intends to apply the investment towards global expansion, accelerate product innovation, and execute strategic transactions.  Key customers include B/E Aerospace, Best Buy, Charming Shoppes, Inc., Choice Hotels, Dell, Expedia, E.ON, Fidelity, Gaylord Hotels, Government of British Columbia, Intuit, J.D. Power, L’Oréal USA, Marriott International, PetSmart, QVC Inc., Sage North America, United Airlines, Walmart, Walgreens, and Wendy’s International.

    Point of View (POV):
    With over 150% of revenue growth over the past 3 years, Clarabridge plans to expand beyond it’s latest entry into San Francisco and London.  The CEM vendor  has the opportunity to build out new geographical markets while expanding industry reach in auto, cpg, finance, healthcare, hospitality, insurance, manufacturing, pharma, restaurants, retail, technology, telecommunications and travel.   Moreover, as the CEM space continues to evolve, Clarabridge now has a war chest to acquire new technologies or engineering talent as the market continues to expand and large legacy vendors acquire to consolidate.
  • Brings on experienced investors and board level expertise. Previous board members included David Blundin of Link Ventures, Don Raine of Grotech ventures, John Glushik of Intersouth Partners, Jonathan Perl of Boulder Ventures, and Sanju Bansal COO of MicroStrategy.   Larry Bohn of General Catalyst Partners and Tom Jennings of Summit Partners will join as part of the board.  Meanwhile, Yuchun Lee will serve as Chairman of the Board.

    Point of View (POV):
    While the previous board and investors provided the initial catalyst to Clarabridge’s success, in order to take it to the next level, the company needed new energy and direction.  David Blundin and Sanju remain on the board from the previous set of investors.  With Yuchun as chairman, expect innovative approaches to partnerships, OEM relationships, and positioning of Clarabridge in a broader customer experience context.

The Bottom Line: Clarabridge Poised For Growth

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Event Report: CRM Evolution 2013 – Seven Trends In The Return To Digital Business And Customer Centricity

Market Leaders Refocus On Digital Business and Customer Centricity

The annual gathering of the industry’s top thought leaders, users, and vendors of CRM converged at the Marriott Marquis in New York this past August 19th to 21st.  As with any good conference, the speaker tracks and the corridor conversations provided a glimpse of where market leaders and fast followers planned to make their future investments and provided key insights for 2014.  After speaking with over 100 attendees, the following seven trends emerged from this year’s event:

  1. CRM is dead, well not really. While the term CRM is loosely used to define many things.  Leaders realize that CRM is the technology.  Customer experience is the business process and journey maps.  Customer centricity is a state of mind that’s required of management and leaders.  While customer experience is the new term du jour, all three elements (i.e. technology, business process, and people leadership) are required for success.  Front office is more descriptive than Tom Siebel’s legacy term of CRM.
  2. Customers seek outcomes not products or services. Customers no longer buy products.  Customers expect products to be bundled with services.  Services providers now seek to sell experiences.  Experience providers now sell access to outcomes.  This evolution of what customer’s want and what’s delivered continues to accelerate.  With hipsters and millennials short on cash, access, experiences, and outcomes have emerged as one market category to deliver for in this growing sharing economy.  However, not all customers seek just access. A movement to move too far, will result in a backlash from a majority of customers who seek ownership without the shackles of renting.
  3. Transformation projects now rally behind the shift from social back to digital business. The social business and social crm era focused on a key aspect of CRM – the relationship.  In the past, CRM excelled at management, poorly accomplished customer, and failed at relationship.  Looking back three years,  the rise of social ties back to the need to address relationships.  Now that social moves to the mainstream, market leaders refocus to digital transformation of customer centric initiatives.
  4. Funnels make no sense in an asynchronous world. Classic sales, marketing, and service funnels force fit customers into unrealistic models.  Entry points will ebb and flow as channels and context drive demand into a variety of use cases.  Design must account for this constant state of change.
  5. Big data provides relevancy and context. All the hype on big data continues to miss the point.  Customer centricity requires context.  Context creates relevancy based on a customer’s roles, relationships, products, services, location, time, sentiment, and intent.  Without relevancy, acquisition, targeting, and personalization will fail.
  6. Front office still needs back office integration. Integration with back office is required for customer experience.  A customer who makes an order for a product or service that’s out of stock and billed twice for something they did not receive will most likely be upset.  Customer centricity is both a front office and back office exercise.
  7. Identity plays a key role. Identity plays a multi-faceted role for each individual. The business implications of identity after authentication, authorization, access, and availability touch on commerce, work lives, personal lives, and engagement with each other.  Identity is a unifying factor in the current transformation to a digital world and required for customer centricity.

The Bottom Line: Business Leaders Must Embrace Customer Centricity In Order to Differentiate In A Digital World

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News Analysis: Kana Express 13 Addresses Omni-Channel Customer Service for Mid-Market

Just 14 months after announcing the acquisition of Trinicom, Kana has revealed the latest release of its cloud customer service suite for the mid-market, Kana Express.   Released on June 27, 2013, the new product reflects the company’s mission “To provide leading customer service solutions that empower our customers to create experiences that count, for their customers wherever they engage”.

Key features in the release include:

  • Advanced analytics and reporting. Kana Express features improved trend analysis, performance reporting, and forecasting.  Personalization has been improved and new reporting options include an easy to use custom dashboard designer.

    Point of View (POV):
    Analytics and reporting is often an after thought in design for mid-market solutions.  Key reports such as contact flux, cockpits, and customer monitors provide not only information, but insight into what the next best action could be.  The custom dashboard designer enables easy creation of visualizations and filtering of data by dimensions.
  • Anytime, anywhere, access. Improvements in access include mobile device usage, Section 508 disability compliance, and internationalization capabilities.  Support for 30 languages out of the box, user defined time zones, double-byte character sets, and international address validation add to a list of features supporting international business requirements .

    Point of View (POV):
    Prospects will most likely flock to the eye candy features of mobile support for device and screen readers.  However, the internationalization efforts close the gap between large expensive enterprise solutions and what mid-market solutions traditionally offered.  Constellation sees this as an immediate win for companies with an international footprint but not an international budget.
  • Improved browser based user experience. Kana Express supports Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari browsers.  Additional enhancements include support for live chat, contextual next best options, and real-time access to the knowledge base.

    Point of View (POV):
    Agents can tailor the new UI and personalize to their preferences, reducing click throughs and improving productivity.  One powerful feature is the ability to automatically present contextual knowledge such as a related topic, interaction history information, or external system data.

Figure 1. Kana Express Screenshots Show New User Experience and Improved Accessability

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Monday’s Musings: The Controversy Surrounding Gartner’s CRM Market Share Analysis

The Gartner Market Share Analysis:CRM Software Report Raises Questions On Accuracy of Market Sizing Reports

The recent Gartner report “Market Share Analysis: Customer Relationship Management Software, Worldwide, 2012” has generated some controversy among the enterprise software set.  The report and other reports such as these, are often used for bragging rights by vendors and for buyers to gauge vendor viability.

This specific report attempts to rank CRM software spending by vendor using total software revenue worldwide.  The good news – the numbers are directionally correct with Salesforce.com claiming the top mantle from SAP this year with $2.525 billion in CRM revenue (see Figure 1). The bad news – many question the accuracy of the actual revenues numbers as listed in the press release, especially for the Microsoft Dynamics CRM business.

As Scott Bekker at Redmond Magazine reported, “Gartner put Microsoft’s CRM revenue at $1.1 billion, up from $900 million in calendar-year 2011.  That’s a sizable bump. As of May 2012, Microsoft was only claiming that all of Dynamics, which includes Microsoft’s established ERP products as well as CRM, amounted to $1 billion in annual revenues.”

Mssr. Bekker makes a polite but astute point.  The 26% bump in CRM revenue is significant.  However, the total revenues are questionable.  In any modest observation, that kind of overall growth in the Microsoft Dynamics unit would have Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, shouting from the tops of Mount Ranier and probably have Kirill Tatarinov next in line to be Microsoft’s CEO.

Figure 1. Gartner’s Recent CRM Software Spending by Vendor, Total Software Revenue Worldwide, 2012 (Millions of Dollars)

Not to violate any copyright laws, despite fair use laws, here’s a link to the full table found in their press release. A recreated table below shows the rankings.

Bottom line it shows Microsoft in 4th place for CRM with over 1.1B in revenue.

Organization 2012 revenues 2012 marketshare (%) 2011 revenues 2011-2012% growth
salesforce.com 2,525.6 14.0 2,004.6 26.0
SAP 2,327.1 12.9 2,325.1 0.1
Oracle 2,015.2 11.1 1,870.0 7.8
Microsoft 1,135.3 6.3 900.9 26.0

The Market Sizing Game For Vendors And Legacy Analyst Firms Flawed With Faulty Methodology

In reality, the market sizing game for enterprise software is both an art with some science.  Having played this role as a vendor in an Analyst Relations capacity in a past life, one knows that executives can not disclose such financial information directly to a research or market sizing firm.  The research analysts must play a guessing game with the software executive and ask 100 questions to zero in on a number.  Unlike hardware, where individual counts are more obvious, software revenue sizing requires analysts to dig deep into financial statements and any conversation where growth rates have been discussed.  Revenues are hidden in bundling, suite sales,  discounting schemes, channel revenue deals, OEM arrangements, and inter-company transfers.  To complicate matters, SaaS revenue calculations can differ from how on-premises revenues are calculated.  Analysts must also determine the truthfulness of vendors who are trying to indirectly guide analysts to the “right” numbers.  In short, this is hard work.

As assumptions are built on previous numbers, one false guess in a previous year, cascades and geometrically inflates or deflates a set of future numbers.  In the case of these CRM numbers, one may speculate that past executives may have provided a higher number than actually generated, resulting in the current alleged inaccuracies.  Another speculation may come from previous and current analysts who may only focus on one area of the business and not have the total picture on the Microsoft Dynamics overall business.  There are many points of inaccuracy that can occur with software revenue market sizing and every legacy analyst and market sizing firm works hard to avoid these situations.  For market analysts, dissecting revenue from vendors such as SAP and Oracle is often difficult as these numbers and break outs are masked with multiple acquisitions and product lines.

To be clear, the SAP and Oracle numbers also seem inflated.   These numbers have been inflated over decades.  Given that these vendors also have many other lines of revenue aside from CRM, it’s hard to gauge the accuracy of their numbers without some digging.  Now one would assume a market sizing firm should be doing this right?

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Revenues Do Not Meet The General Sniff Test

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