Why innovation challenges us

Through evolution our brains have developed to recognise and assimilate patterns as shorthand for dealing with what we perceive as reality. As we go through life our experiences are hardwired as knowledge to allow us to react to external happenings without having to rethink our responses to every similar event which we have already have experienced.

Innovation requires us to forget, in a sense, what we know and look at problem solving from a new and fresh perspective. This is similar to children who are ‘unencumbered’ by the hardwired and previously assimilated responses which often prevent us from identifying or appreciating novel innovative solutions.

Zaheer Ismail

Originally published: 11 Jan 2015 @ 15:00

Getting the most out of your CRM application

Key areas to focus on when implementing or improving a CRM system.

  • What CRM-related problem are you trying to solve? Focus on these rather than all available features
  • How will you incent employees to use the CRM system, you need to answer the ‘What’s in it for me?’ question
  • Who will sponsor and continue to back and promote the project?
  • Is the application easy to use? especially compared to what is currently being used?
  • Is there an adequate training and refresher program in place?
  • How will you ensure that the data will be kept current?
  • What other systems and tools can be integrated with to make it more useful? Email and calendar tools, accounting, human resources, social media, etc
  • Is the CRM application accessible via a mobile device?
  • Think about how would you analyse the data in the application using Analytics tools to improve customer satisfaction, pipeline conversion, customer engagement, etc

Zaheer Ismail

News highlights this week (23/11/2014)

New capabilities for the Analytics Cloud

Salesforce.com’s Analytics cloud a.k.a Wave is aimed at a broader subset of business users beyond sales and marketing professionals, designed with a mobile-first experience for downloading data from any source.

Wall Street stalwarts such as Dun & Bradstreet and Thomson Reuters will be funneling in their data while Silicon Valley players such as IBM, BlueWolf and SnapLogic will follow up data integration capabilities — all for making sure more crunched analytics and insights are available for new and future enterprise mobile apps.

Four big data essentials for start-ups

Big-data products are generally targeted at large enterprises, and for good reason. They can be enormously expensive to initiate and operate, and therefore out of reach for the average startup or small business.

That’s changing, but fledgling firms need to answer some hard questions before embarking on a data-driven strategy. These include: Do I need a big data system? And what insights do I hope to gain from it?

Cloud computing adoption continues to accelerate in the enterprise

A recent study by IDG found that 69% of enterprises have either applications or infrastructure running in the cloud today, up 12% from 2012. The IDG Enterprise Cloud Computing Study 2014 found that cloud investments have increased by 19% in large-scale enterprises (1,000+ employees) spending on average $3.3M a year. In 2015, 24% of IT budgets will be allocated to cloud solutions, with the highest percentage being allocated to SaaS models.

This week in CRM (17/02/2014)

CRM and related strategies and technology news from the past week featuring Gartner’s take on growth in the CRM industry and importance of data.

SAP aims to redefine CRM software

SAP intends to be the leading CRM software vendor soon, as it offers companies an integrated experience, based on the HANA in-memory technology, that extends into the e-commerce space.

5 Reasons Customer Relationship Management Is Still Hot

Gartner notes that it expects CRM spending to remain steady after three years of substantial investment driven by five established and emerging areas of technology. Those areas include:

  • Social
  • Mobile
  • Big Data
  • Cloud
  • Internet of Things

Turn Big Data into Smart Data: You’ll Have Happier Customers

The true power of big data, he explains, lies in creatively using advanced analytics to transform that ‘big’ data into ‘smart’ data and actionable business intelligence.

Does Your Company Need a Chief Data Officer?

As the name suggests, a chief data officer is responsible for governing enterprise data and leveraging customer data as an asset. That means overseeing how data is collected, analyzed, and secured.

The top 10 customer relationship management services

All the usual suspects and a couple of newer vendors.

This week in CRM (07/02/2014)

CRM and related strategies and technology news from the past week featuring new CEO for Microsoft and SAP’s cloud push.

Is SAP Jam Where Enterprise Social Is Headed?

The platform is currently integrated with SuccessFactors’ HCM Suite of applications, SAP CRM and SAP Cloud for Customer, SAP Cloud for Financials, the SAP Business Suite, BusinessObjects business intelligence apps and talent management and learning 

The Future of Dynamics in a Nadella-led Microsoft

Microsoft’s Dynamics ERP and CRM product lines seemed safe immediately following former CEO Steve Ballmer’s sweeping reorganization of the company last year. But now that longtime Microsoft executive Satya 

SAP’s McDermott Plans for More Client Revenue as Cloud Grows

Walldorf, Germany-based SAP’s competitors Oracle Corp. (ORCL:US) and Salesforce.com Inc. (CRM:US) are also vying for sales among businesses that don’t want to manage and update their software and prefer to outsource the job to the companies that 

Personalized Customer Engagement: How to Get Started

Financial and transactional information from SAP ERP systems are usually in one place, and the sales histories from SAP CRM systems are in another. Seamlessly integrating these systems with the SAP BCM Contact Center gives agents comprehensive 

When CRM Goes Social

He describes how the company rewired its customer relationship management (CRM), first by launching SAP CRM to track customer requests in real time, and then more recently by integrating it with blogs and social sites. “Last year, we resolved 2,450 

Will 2014 be SAP’s year of the cloud?

However, Hagemann Snabe told investors at a Morgan Stanley conference in Barcelona back in November 2013 that he doesn’t expect “enormous impact” for SAP in the cloud, even by 2015. A few days later, vice president of cloud strategy at SAP…

This week in CRM (31/01/2014)

CRM and related strategies and technology news from the past week

Oracle now gunning for Amazon, Salesforce

Database management system’s company Oracle Corp. is no longer interested in competing against rivals IBM Corp. and SAP AG, it’s now after the like cloud giants such as Amazon and Salesforce.com. Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, was answering questions 

Oracle’s Hurd: A ‘Once-In-A-Career Opportunity’

Mark Hurd explains Oracle’s strategy on cloud, marketing, innovation, and those pesky startup rivals. …. In that time, most of the company’s 20 or so acquisitions have been cloud-based, including RightNow (CRM software), Taleo (talent 

Everything’s moving to the cloud, even ERP.

CRM Watchlist 2014: For the 1st time ever: The Watchlist Elite, Part I

Today begins the CRM Watchlist 2014 reviews. The Elites get first dibs on the discussion – up first the vendor generalists – Salesforce.com and Microsoft.

Why LinkedIn is the King of Contacts for Sales

LinkedIn is a goldmine for getting to know prospects before a meeting. Instead of walking into a meeting cold, you can find out a client’s work history, how long they have been in their role, where their role sits within the company hierarchy, where they went to school, personal and professional interests – even whether you back the same sports team.

Did NSA Use Angry Birds or Other Apps for Spying?

One of the first revelations by Edward Snowden, a former contract employee of the National Security Agency, involved the NSA’s use of popular services for data gathering. Among these services were Facebook and Gmail, which the NSA had been using since 2007 to obtain information on people around the world. Now, new information reportedly released by Snowden shows the NSA also tapped into mobile apps like Angry Birds and Twitter to collect data.

This week in CRM (25/01/2014)

CRM and related strategies and technology stories that caught our eye this past week.

FBI: Era of Big Data = Era of Big Data Thefts
The hacking of Target servers to obtain millions of passwords and credit card numbers may have been the most successful data breach in U.S. history, but the worst may be yet to come, warns the FBI.

Microsoft is still an enterprise software company (And that’s ok.)
Commercial “other,” meaning Enterprise Services, Office 365, Azure and Dynamics CRM Online: $415 million. Yes, it’s still early days in Microsoft’s transition to a devices and services company. But it’s still worth noting what’s missing from both the 

Salesforce: Pinning CRM Strategy to ‘The Internet of Customers’
Salesforce.com’s strategy is for Salesforce1 to fuel a golden age in enterprise apps by acting as a platform upon which enterprise customers and independent software vendors can develop and run new apps that are fully integrated into the Salesforce …

Lessons from the death of a tech Goliath
Seven years had passed since Oracle acquired Siebel, which created the customer relationship management (CRM) business, now dominated by Salesforce (CRM). I was the head … SAP (SAP), Oracle, and IBM (IBM) suffered through the recession as well.

The 2014 CRM Watchlist Award for Lifetime Achievement goes to….
The 2014 CRM Watchlist reviews start here. We begin them with the Lifetime Achievement Award winner for this year – Amazon.com. They are kind of obvious to me at least, but let

SaaS product discontinuation, a growing risk

While there are clear benefits in using Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products one of the key risks relates to service discontinuation i.e. when a SaaS vendor stops providing the online software service.

This happens occasionally and not even the large vendors are immune. After reportedly paying around $30m for do.com Salesforce.com is discontinuing the task management software offering. Even Google has discontinued a number of products albeit mostly of the free to consumer market variety.

This is not altogether unexpected, especially when the software is acquired; as strategies change, financial viability is not achieved, integration into the core product suite is not clear-cut, the value proposition is no longer compelling or there is company culture mismatch to name a few. This is, of course, of little consolation to customers.

In most cases there is either a data export function or one will be made available to ease the transition to an alternative service. The time and effort of identifying an alternative, mapping and migrating the data, re-training, etc still remains.

Migrating from one software product to another, SaaS or on-premise, has always been challenging. As the SaaS market matures and larger investments are made in SaaS offerings, how will vendors, and the industry, react to allaying these fears?

Or does it remain a case of caveat emptor?

Zaheer Ismail

CRM Showdown

CRM platforms are notoriously difficult to compare. Each has the core marketing, sales and service functionality but there are many other differences to consider. These include delivery method (cloud or on-premise), ease of customisation and configuration, reporting and analytics capability, integration methods, mobility solutions, social CRM capabilities including collaboration and social media integration (a current hot topic), pricing and enterprise size suitability.

I came across this (part one / part two) entertaining two part comparison of the most popular CRM platforms: SugarCRM, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Oracle CRM, salesforce.com CRM and SAP CRM. The comparison is styled on the characteristics of former WWF wrestlers. Here are some of the highlights.


“SugarCRM provides an open source platform that is available both in on-premise and cloud variations. Though Sugar places the most emphasis on their cloud based offerings, they offer on premise versions of their solution as well.

“From a pricing perspective, SugarCRM prices are on par with Microsoft Dynamics and less expensive than Salesforce for similar functionality.  SugarCRM’s ‘Corporate’ package is priced at $540/user/year which equates to $45/user/month. I’ll also note that right now SugarCRM is aggressively targeting Salesforce.com customers by guaranteeing a 50% cost savings for switching to Sugar.

Microsoft Dynamics

“Microsoft Dynamic’s is seamlessly integrated in one of the most widely adopted enterprise solutions in the globe, Microsoft Outlook.  This feature alone makes it a great fit for many small and midsized businesses that are already using Microsoft Exchange.  One of the primary complaints we often hear from sales and marketing executives about CRM is that it is more of a workforce management tool that adds to their workload rather than something to make their job easier.  Microsoft Dynamic’s addresses this concern by ensuring that sales and marketing executives who already use Outlook will be able to access the CRM system from within Outlook.

Oracle CRM

“Oracle provides a robust, highly customizable and scalable solution.  With their longstanding experience across multiple industry verticals, they have a set of industry specific configurations that leverage the best practices amongst many of the globe’s most successful companies.  Particularly for organizations that utilize Oracle ERP, an Oracle CRM solution makes for an easy integration.

Oracle’s offering is evolving and offers several choices which can be considered as different options. They are Oracle Siebel, Oracle CRM on Demand and Oracle Fusion CRM. Oracle also offers on-premise and private, hybrid or public cloud options for most of their different options.

Salesforce.com CRM

“Salesforce only offers a cloud based offering.  This makes it less customizable than some of the on-premise offerings and also could raise data security concerns depending upon a particular company’s industry.  As organizations become more and more savvy, I think the data security concerns should fade away, but realistically, they are not gone yet.

Salesforce is also a leader in social enterprise and mobility solutions in that it has a great offering in both these areas


“If SAP has one weakness it could be its slow response to changing technology and consumer demands.  This is most evident in SAP’s initial response to the cloud.  While SAP now offers both on-premise and cloud based solutions, SAP’s dominance in the enterprise space, initially translated to a somewhat slow transition to the cloud.

When deciding on a CRM platform it’s important to consider your specific needs and match them with the relative strengths and weaknesses of the different offerings. For instance if you’re avoiding capex and don’t have in-house resources then consider a cloud offering. If you have specific industry vertical needs and have a large user base then first consider Oracle or other large enterprise players.

Originally published:  Published on: 1 Jun 2012 @ 06:57

Top 10 benefits of CRM for salespeople

CRM solutions often suffer from resistance to adoption. There are many reasons for this. This blog post from Lee Novak covers the top 10 benefits of CRM for Salespeople.

He compares a CRM solution to a navigation system which is apt.

“Would you board a commercial airline if you knew, 1) the plane was lacking a navigational system, 2) you would be flying to the busiest airport in the world without the aid of an air traffic controller or radar, and 3) the pilots would not have any radio contact to direct their take off or landing approach? Most likely not. CRM is not a fad nor is it a way for your company to act as BIG BROTHER! CRM is a navigational tool that, when used properly it will increase your profitability, productivity and enhance your customers buying experience. I believe that what you are really asking is, what is in it for you, the individual sales rep.”

He goes on to describe the top 10 benefits which can be achieved when a CRM solution is properly implemented:

  • Branding and marketing
  • Determining marketing and advertising effectiveness
  • Understanding customer buying trends
  • Insights into customer buying cycles
  • A 360 degree view of customers leading to better total customer value management
  • Telephony integration for an instant view of customer information
  • Management of customer retention and loyalty programs
  • Develop effective customer business plans
  • Salesperson performance and productivity
  • Instant reports and analytics

Read the full post.