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Posts from the ‘CRM’ Category

Gartner Search Analytics Shows Spike in Hadoop Inquiries in 2012 – Good News For CRM

Hadoop was one of the most-searched terms on Gartner’s website in 2011 through 2012, spiking to 601.8% over the last twelve months alone.  Additional insights from the Search Analytics on Hadoop include the following:

  • 27% of all inquiries are from banking, finance and insurance industries, followed by manufacturing (14%), government (13%), services (10%) and healthcare (8%).
  • North America (75.9%) and EMEA (13.5%) are the two most dominant geographies in terms of query volume.
  • Here is the trend line from Gartner Search Analytics:

What’s driving Hadoop’s meteoric rise in searches is a combination of industry hype about big data, CIOs getting serious about using Hadoop distributions that minimize time and risk yet deliver value, and the dominant role Amazon is playing in bringing Hadoop into the cloud.  Today Amazon offers Elastic MapReduce as a Web Service that relies on a hosted Hadoop framework running the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) in conjunction with Amazon Simple Storage Service (S2).

Microsoft also scored a major hiring win this week announcing that Raghu Ramakrishnan, former chief scientist for three divisions of Yahoo is now with Microsoft. Raghu is now a technical fellow working in the Server and Tools Business (STB).  He’ll focus on big data and integration to STB platforms.  Big Data on Azure will accelerate now with him on-board.

Hadoop’s Potentially Galvanizing Effect on CRM and Social CRM Analytics

The quickening pace of Hadoop adoption in the enterprise is good news for CRM and especially social CRM. Analytics and Business Intelligence (BI) are the “glue” that unify CRM and keep it in context. One of Hadoop’s greatest potential contributions is the analysis, categorization and use of unstructured content.  Marketing and sales won’t have to run three or four systems to gain insights into customer data, they can run a single analytics platform that fuels the entire selling cycle and lifetime customer value chain of their businesses.  Hadoop has the potential to make unstructured content more meaningful while also reporting the impact of customer insights on financial performance, profitability and lifetime customer value.

Translating terabytes of customer, sales, services and partner data into meaningful analytics and business intelligence (BI) is emerging as a priority for CIOs, who are sharing responsibility for driving top-line revenue growth.   Hadoop shows potential to be the “glue” or galvanizing technology base that unifies all CRM and Social CRM strategies.

To get a perspective on how fast Hadoop is being evaluated and adopted it’s useful to look at the Hype Cycle for Data Management, the latest edition published July, 2011.   This is another indicator of how quickly Hadoop and big data are gaining in terms of CIO mindshare.  Big Data and extreme information management are on the technology Trigger area of the hype cycle.  The Hype Cycle for Data Management is shown below:

Bottom line:  CRM and Social CRM will benefit more than any other area of an enterprise as Hadoop’s adoption continues to accelerate.  CIOs are increasingly called upon to be strategists, and with the ability to translate terabytes of data into strategies that deliver dollars, look for Hadoop’s contributions to drive top-line revenue growth.

Analytics, Cloud Computing Challenge Flat Growth in Forrester’s Tech Market Outlook for 2012

It’s time to strip away the hype surrounding analytics, big data and cloud computing by asking how these technologies contribute  to excellent customer experiences and greater customer engagement.  Those are the real catalysts of market growth and the greatest disruptive forces at work in enterprise software today.

Filtering forecasts of future technology adoption with a customer experience and engagement mindset is essential for separating hype from reality.  Two excellent blog posts were published today that provide useful insights for doing this.  Ray Wang’s Monday’s Musings: 10 Mega Business Trends To Watch For In 2012 provides pragmatic, insightful analysis of the progression going on from transactional to personal fulfillment systems.  Many of the CIOs I’ve met with in the last two months are saying exactly what Ray has written regarding this transition.   Paul Greenberg’s CRM 2012 Forecast – The Era of Customer Engagement – Part I delivers more insight than any of the financial or industry analyst reports I’ve read in the last twelve months on CRM and its intersection to social networks.  He has defined customer engagement so thoroughly I am sure this post will be a classic, referenced for years to come.  Both posts provide an excellent framework to evaluate the upcoming wave of new forecasts due out from research firms at the start of 2012.

Having recently read Forrester’s US Tech Market Outlook For 2012 and applying the concepts Ray Wang and Paul Greenberg discuss, here are several take-aways from that report:

  • Total U.S. ICT market in 2011 was $962B with the majority being generated from software sales ($208B) followed by Telecom Services ($199B) and IT Consulting and Systems Integration Services ($188B).  The following graphic illustrates the purchase of ICT product and services in the U.S. during 2011.  As enterprise software companies are striving to deliver what Ray Wang is calling Experiential Systems, the majority of their core Intellectual Property (IP) was obtained from building Transactional Systems.  Despite this conflict, software development methodologies including Agile give the industry a fighting chance at growth in 2012.
  • Software continues to dominate both in total revenue ($208B) and growth rate, with 8.2% growth projected for 2012.  In addition to analytics and Business Intelligence (BI), Forrester is predicting an increase in ERP, Middleware and SaaS-based application growth.
  • Forrester is most optimistic in their forecasts for analytics, BI, Cloud Computing and Smart Computing.  Cloud Computing forecasts at Forrester are indexed to sales levels of NetSuite, RightNow Technologies (Oracle), Salesforce.com, and Ultimate Software.  Forrester is claiming these four vendors will generate a 23% increase in revenues in calendar Q1, 2012 over Q1, 2011, increasing and staying constant at 24% year-over-year growth from Q2 to Q4, 2012 relative to Q2 to Q4,  2011. Salesforce.com could accomplish this level of growth through acquisitions alone. They’re showing they can integrate newly acquired companies faster than Oracle, who they are challenging for global CRM market leadership in the 2012 – 2013 timeframe.  When customer experience and engagement is taken into account, the forecast seems high.  Salesforce knows how to translate trial users into customers.  The question is can they do this fast enough in 2012 throughout the enterprise and mid-tier accounts to keep up their sales growth on track while reducing churn and increasing profitability.
  • Smart Computing is defined by Forrester as platform technologies including specialized analytics, BI, service-oriented architecture (SOA) infrastructure, virtualization software, rules engines, and awareness-based technologies.  Forrester is very optimistic about this area with a growth rate second only to cloud computing. Its index of the market is based on Informatica, Pegasystems, and Tibco Software.  Forrester is predicting in calendar Q1, 2012 there will be 16% growth over Q1, 2011, followed by consistent 13% growth year-over-year for Q2 to Q4, 2012 relative to 2011.  The following graphic compares growth of both Cloud Computing and Smart Computing.

  • The inflexion point of Smart Computing will happen when analytics, BI and awareness-based technologies including RFID can be used to make customer experiences consistently positive and drive cultural change throughout a business to center on customers’ expectations.  Paul Greenberg refers to this area of customer engagement in his blog post.  I agree with him and see the real value of analytics not for reporting, but for being a barometer of just how customer-centric and focused on delivering exceptional customer experiences a company is becoming.
  • In 2012, financial services, professional services, and manufacturing will be the three industries that dominate software purchases.  Financial services (19%), professional services (15%) and manufacturing (14%) will be the largest buyers of enterprise software.  Forrester believes that ERP replacements, supply chain management (SCM) and product lifecycle management (PLM) will all be proprieties in the coming twelve months.

Bottom line: Critiquing high growth technologies based on their contribution to customer experience, engagement and the creation of Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is what matter most. Hopefully the new wave of forecasts for 2012 and beyond will take the customer – not just technology and statistical extrapolations – into account.

SaaS-based Analytics and Business Intelligence Market Update, August 2011

Challenging, uncertain economic times accelerate sales cycles and lead to more closed deals for business intelligence software providers.  Companies get an urgency to reduce costs and risks, relying on the insights gained from these applications.

There’s an interesting dichotomy starting to emerge in how experts and analysts define just how these markets will mature however.  Both agree that economic uncertainty are growth catalysts yet they diverge on adoption rates, roadblocks, and which analytics and BI technology will dominate in the years ahead.

This week I read Balancing Custom And Packaged Apps In Your Application Portfolio Strategy by George Lawrie, Mike Gilpin and Adam Knoll from Forrester and the latest Hype Cycle of Business Intelligence, 2011 by a collection of Gartner authors led by Andreas Bitterer.  I’ve summarized the key points of each below.

Forrester Sees SaaS Applications Overtaking Custom Application Development

Forrester sees SaaS-based applications starting to replace in-house custom application development, gathering momentum through 2013.  Gartner, with their Hype Cycle for Business Intelligence, 2011 just released this week, shows BI platforms having greater near-term benefit than SaaS-based analytics and BI.  Custom application development projects are going to face continued pressure to keep up with business requirements that SaaS applications are proving able to handle more effectively and economically than ever before.

In-house development makes more sense for specific analytics and reporting requirements,  yet will continually be eroded by SaaS-based applications that can meet most requirements at a lower cost.  Forrester has in the past said SaaS-based adoption of analytics applications in general and predictive applications specifically would be very slow due to data integration challenges.  This study points to a potential shift in their mindset, as the data shows SaaS-based analytics beginning to replace custom in-house developed applications.

Here are the key take-aways from the report:

  • Analytics processes are supported 79% of the time with custom application development.  Procure-to-pay (33%) and record-to-report (33%) are the second-most supported.  Multiple responses were allowed in the survey.
  • When asked which process areas they are automating with SaaS, analytics (33%), record-to-report (18%), order-to-cash  (15%), and purchase-to-pay (12%) were the most common responses.  There was a small sample size on the Forrester report and the most startling insight was how quickly respondent companies plan to migrate from custom application development to SaaS-based analytics and BI.
  • Nearly 50% of the respondents to the Forrester survey have between five and 19 SaaS-based applications today with 18% expecting to have 35 or more by 2013.  In addition 63% of respondents expect to deploy between five and 34 SaaS-based applications by 2013, a significant shift in just two years.
  • 36% of survey respondents say their  SaaS applications run completely standalone.  Another 36% mention they use a combination of on-premises Master Data Management (MDM) and process integration tools.  Ironically only 3% are deploying their applications on cloud-based MDM or process integration-based platforms.

Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Business Intelligence, 2011

Unlike the hype cycle for cloud computing, this hype cycle has fewer technology categories (25), a narrative firmly grounded in business process and strategy, and more practical and pragmatic insights versus just theoretical.  At 50 pages it’s  quick read and while there are many excellent points made, I have summarized the key take-aways pertaining to the highest hype points and SaaS adoption below:

  • Mobile Business Intelligence (BI) is the latest entry to the Hype Cycle for Business Intelligence based on the massive hype around analyzing locational and application data.  The hype surrounding the Apple iPad Series, Google Android and other tablet and smartphone platforms has made this one of the most hyped areas of the last year according to the analysis.
  • Consumerization, Decision Support, analysis of non-traditional data and “Big Data” are the areas of the greatest innovation today.  The hype cycle points to search, mobile, visualization and data discovery being the catalyst of Consumerization.  Predictive analytics, which is on the Slope of Enlightenment on this latest hype cycle, is critical to decision support.  The non-traditional and “Big Data” area of innovation is further supported by content, text analytics, in-memory DBMSs and columnar DBMSs.
  • SaaS-based Business Intelligence is at the apex of the Peak of Inflated Expectations yet will continue to have low adoption rates.  Gartner believes that the  lack of trust in third parties managing confidential data, and the inertia and fear many companies have in moving to a new architecture are slowing adoption.  This is in contrast to the survey Forrester released this week showing analytics being one of the most popular SaaS-based applications planned by 2013 in their base of respondents.
  • Gartner sees SaaS-based Business Intelligence of the most value to midsize and smaller organizations who lack IT staff yet have very specific, targeted information needs.  Website analytics, social media monitoring, dashboards, predictive analytics and Excel as a BI front-end all apply.  Both Forrester and Gartner agree on this point and see this type of custom development going away quickly internally.
  • There is a massive amount of hype surrounding in-memory computing, particularly from SAP at its Sapphire conferences .  Gartner believes that SAP’s vision of in-memory computing exceeds  in-memory analytics to include analytical and transactional processing.  As a result, In-Memory Database Management Systems are at the Peak of Inflated Expectations.


Source: Hype Cycle for Business Intelligence, 2011, Published 12 August 2011 | ID:G00216086 By Andreas Bitterer.  Gartner, Inc.

What Both Agree On

Forrester’s survey shows SaaS eventually replacing custom application development while Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Business Intelligence shows the practical, pragmatic technologies including dashboards, predictive analytics combined with the more complex Business Activity Monitoring (BAM), Business Intelligence Platforms, and Data-Mining Workbenches delivering the most value.  Despite these differences, both agree on the following:

  • The overall market for BI, Analytics and Performance Management continues to grow at between 8 to 12% per year depending on the forecast used.  The following forecast is from the report  Market Trends: Business Intelligence, Worldwide, 2011-2014, 7 June 2011 | ID:G00213483 by Dan Sommer and James Richardson.
Source: Market Trends: Business Intelligence, Worldwide, 2011-2014, 7 June 2011 | ID:G00213483 by Dan Sommer and James Richardson
  • 2011 continues to see large, strategic deals for analytics and BI closing more rapidly than they have in the past.
  • SaaS-based analytics and BI continues to gain a greater share of spending in midsize and smaller companies.  Both also agree that the proliferation of smaller SaaS-based analytics and Bi vendors concentrating on a specific niche have successfully displaced in-house custom development of competitive applications.  Trust in the smaller vendor, their track record, customer references and financial viability are what are winning deals for SaaS-based analytics and BI software providers today.
  • The market transition from build to buy is now in full force as budgets become available again.  This is key assumption of both analyses and means that smaller, more niche-oriented SaaS-based analytics and BI vendors stand a chance to get new reference accounts and grow, despite a challenging economy.

Oracle Files Suit Against Oasis Research LLC Over Cloud Computing Patents

Oracle chose to go on the offensive today against Oasis Research LLC, who accused the company of violating six different patents in the development, marketing and service of Oracle On Demand, Oracle CRM On Demand and other applications.

Oracle chose to file their suit against Oasis Research LLC in Delaware federal court, seeking both a declaratory judgment of noninfringment and invalidity of six U.S. patents.  On May 26th, 2011 counsel representing Oasis Research sent a letter to Oracle alleging  the enterprise software company of “utilizing and benefiting from technologies and features covered in Oasis’ patents”.  According to the complaint filed in Delaware federal court, Oasis alleges that Oracle is offering for sale, selling, maintaining and supporting various online fee-based SaaS products including but not limited to Oracle On Demand and Oracle CRM On Demand based on Oasis patented intellectual property.  The letter concluded with Oasis demanding licensing agreements and fees from Oracle.

Oasis Research did not invent the technologies mentioned in this suit, they were acquired from Intellectual Ventures Computing Platform Assets LLC.  Oracle alleges in the complaint that the primary business model of Oasis is to obtain licensing revenues based on the inventory of patents they own, arguing that lack of investment in these technologies limits their patentability.

The six patents named in the complaint include the following:

  • U.S. Patent No. 5,771,354 pertains to an Internet online backup system that provides remote storage for customers using IDs and passwords that are interactively established when signing up for backup services.  This patent was originally issued on June 23, 1998.
  • U.S. Patent No. 5,901,228 refers to commercial online backup services that provide transparent extended storage to remote customers over telecommunications links.  This patent was issued May 4, 1999.
  • U.S. Patent 6,014,651 refers to commercial online software distribution systems and methods using encryption for security.  This patent was issued January 11, 2000.
  • U.S. Patent 6,327,579 defines online services including help desk, anti-virus and/or application service features   This patent was issued December 4, 2001.
  • U.S. Patent 6,411,943 defines an Internet online backup system that provides remote storage for customers using IDs and passwords which were interactively establish when signing up for backup services.  This patent was issued June 25, 2002.
  • U.S. Patent 7,080,051 defines Internet download systems and methods providing software to Internet computer users for local execution.  This patent was issued July 18, 2006.

Oracle alleges in the compliant none of these patents have been infringed, seeks relief from the licensing attempts by Oasis, and also seeks a declaration that one or more of the patents-in-suit fail to meet the conditions of patentability.  Oracle is also seeking coverage of all costs, expenses, disbursements and reasonable attorney fees.

Conclusion

Given the amount of hours attorneys at Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, Infor and many other enterprise software companies are going to log in the next several years over patent infringement, it makes sense to create an application to streamline contract, patent and legal processes.  It’s a perfect application for a database company to build, and lends itself well to analytics and reporting all delivered via the SaaS platform. Litigation burns thousands of hours, millions of dollars, is a major distraction to any business and taken together form a set of requirements ideal for these companies to tackle with what they do best: develop applications to solve complex business problems.

Sources: (free opt in required) http://www.law360.com/ip/articles/262334/oracle-files-pre-emptive-suit-over-cloud-computing-ip

 

Deciding Which Applications Belong on SaaS

The debate is getting louder by the week about which applications should move to SaaS versus be kept on-premise.  Wanting to it both ways, more and more companies are offering both SaaS and on-premise versions.

A recent report from Forrester, What CEOs Of Small Software Companies Need To Do In 2011 How To Find The Best Opportunities In A High-Growth Market, underscores the debates at enterprise software companies facing this dilemma.

A graphic from the report is shown below and served as the catalyst of the points show here:

  • Decide if your company can afford the revenue and potential profit hit of switching business models.  Vendors selling licensed on-premise systems often have annual maintenance revenue streams that contribute 60% or more of their annual revenues.  This revenue stream  gives companies a cushion to wait out long sales cycles and spend years developing new products.  Enterprise vendors in this position need to set aggressive goals for new sales, development and cultivate a culture of accountability so complacency doesn’t take hold.  With more than 50% of revenues gained often in the first year of the license, this model is very challenging to migrate off of in favor of SaaS.  Conversely, SaaS-based licenses have been known to generate only 20% of contract value the first year.  That’s why many investors tell SaaS start-ups and companies making the transition to get customers to pay multiple years ahead if at all possible.
  • SaaS is ideally suited for highly collaborative, distributed applications that need to match how your customers work.  CRM, Social CRM and its many related segments of the software market, along with enterprise collaboration, knowledge management and communication all fit here.  Reducing churn through greater loyalty to CRM and related applications, in addition to creating vertical market extensions have proven to be great strategies.   SaaS-based ERP, Supply Chain Management (SCM), Warehouse Management and other enterprise applications are gaining traction because the companies offering them are doing the hard work of simplifying very complex processes before moving the to SaaS.

  • Upgrade paths for both licensed and SaaS applications can force your company into being all things to all people.  Customers of  SaaS applications are going to expect incremental updates every three months or more at the least, while licensed customers are content with interim releases every six months and a major release every three to four years.

Bottom line: Migrating to SaaS from licensed applications often leads to sales and profits dropping for two to three years due to the change in maintenance and renewal revenue streams.  Being smart about which applications get moved when and not deviating from the plan can mean the difference between being profitable or not.

Source:   What CEOs Of Small Software Companies Need To Do In 2011 How To Find The Best Opportunities In A High-Growth Market by Andrew Bartels with Christopher Mines, Peter Burris, Sarah Musto. July 7, 2011

Gartner’s Hot CRM Applications for 2011 Show SaaS is Accelerating in the Enterprise


Gartner’s report, What’s ‘Hot’ in CRM Applications in 2011 shows clients are moving to the next stage of their strategies for using SaaS in the areas of customer service, marketing and sales.  They’re asking for more analyst time, discussing how to quickly deploy applications company-wide versus just in departments, and most important, how to measure the results. Cross-CRM applications including Business Process Management Systems (BPMS) and Master Data Management (MDM) are two of the more popular areas of inquiry Gartner is getting right now from infrastructure initiatives standpoint to unify CRM data and strategies as well.

Factors Driving Faster Adoption

Escaping high maintenance fees on their legacy CRM applications, facing chronic time shortages that make the traditional lengthy application deployment cycles unaffordable and impractical, and a mindset of measuring results from software spending are fueling greater SaaS adoption.

A local financial services firm is migrating to SaaS-based feedback management and analytics to capture customer satisfaction more effectively than their legacy CRM application could.  Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) are also driving more technology adoption in the areas of social media for marketing, lead management, mobile marketing and Web analytics as they’re more accountable for delivering measurable results.  The new mindset in many companies about measuring results and continually improving strategies is a powerful catalyst of SaaS application adoption.  A summary table from the report is provided below (please click on it to expand for easier reading) along with key take-aways.

Key Take-Aways from the Report:

  • Software-as-a-service (SaaS) delivery represented approximately 26% of all CRM application spending in 2010. Spending on CRM applications grew by more than 8% in 2010.
  • In sales applications, almost 50% was delivered via SaaS, where it is now widely viewed as a mainstream model.
  • Operational CRM is the automation of processes such as campaign management or case management. It represents more than 70% of all CRM spending and grew at around 4% in 2010.
  • Analytical CRM, which includes predictive analytics and segmentation applications, grew 9% and according to Gartner represents nearly 25% of CRM spending.
  • Social CRM grew at over 50%, but still represents less than 5% of all CRM spending. According to the report, 90% of social CRM spending is by business-to-consumer (B2C) companies and approximately 85% of spending is initiated by companies based in North America.  Gartner expects the social CRM market to reach $1B in revenue by year-end 2012, up from $600M in 2010.
  • In terms of inquiry traffic, Social CRM is the hottest area of interest in customer service and marketing departments, followed by related areas like digital marketing and e-commerce. Gartner points out that Social CRM is used both within and outside an organization and is of equal importance to its clients today based on their inquiries.

Bottom line: This report shows more companies are confronting the need to change their customer service, marketing and selling strategies to be customer driven on an enterprise, not just department basis.  They are relying on SaaS based applications as  the catalyst of changing customer-driven strategies in companies.  CMOs and other senior managers are focused on measuring customer satisfaction, loyalty and profitability instead of just cost reductions as a result.

Source: What’s ‘Hot’ in CRM Applications in 2011 Ed Thompson, Michael Maoz, Kimberly Collins, Michael Dunne Publication Date: 17 March 2011 ID Number: G00211657


Data Science Shows Potential To Redefine Cloud-based Analytics

The emerging field of data science is a fascinating one that has major implications on the potential of cloud-based analytics, CRM, search, supply chain management and logistics.

Instead of relying purely on latent semantic indexing or the Google PageRank algorithm to define relevance of a search, data science techniques analyze content and its context to determine relevance.  Google today looks at the content of a page; data science considers its surrounding data and relevance.

Earlier this month TechCrunch published the blog post Marissa Mayer’s Next Big Thing: “Contextual Discovery” — Google Results Without Search.  The techniques of contextual discovery Google is experimenting with rely on a very rapid aggregation and transforming of data, which are part of the methodologies of data science.   When Google moves fully into contextual discovery the potential exists for cloud-based analytics, CRM, search, supply chain management and logistics to be completely revolutionized by solving the big data problems associated with each of these areas.

In CRM, this would mean finally being able to access external and internal content (including the massive amount of data on social networks), aggregate the data, and transform it into meaningful analysis.  The vision of social CRM would be realized once data science serves as the catalyst of contextual search or as Google calls it, contextual discovery.

Exploring Data Science

Two of the best blog posts are both from O’Reilly Radar on the emerging topic of data science.  What is data science? By Mike Loukides and Six months after “What is data science?” by Mac Slocum O’Reilly Radar are worth reading and giving some serious thought to.  O’Reilly also has also created a free report titled What is Data Science, which can be downloaded here.

Authors Mike Loukides and Mac Slocum set the foundation for how transformational data science has the potential of being by concentrating on the nascent area of data products.  A data product is the result of accessing, aggregating and transforming content regardless of its location – and capturing data on its attributes – not just the data itself. Both authors point to reference systems and guided reference engines on e-commerce sites as just the beginning.  Yet after reading their assessments and listening to Roger Magoulas, O’Reilly’s Director of Research, interviewed about data science below there are many more potential uses of this evolving area.

Potential Impact of Data Science on Analytics

The blog posts by Mike Loukides and Mac Slocum go into detail explaining how each area of data science is in varying levels of maturity.  After reading these over and considering the big data problems in cloud-based analytics, CRM, search, supply chain management and logistics, the following methodology starts to make sense:

Access – For data science to realize its full potential there needs to be a technology layer that provides for real-time access to structured and unstructured content both within and outside an enterprise.  More than a traditional Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) layer the technologies driving data access need to selectively pull all available content from every unstructured and structured data source available.  Mike Loukides mentions Google Goggles and how MapReduce has made this application possible.  Hadoop as a means to create greater access across federated content has much potential in this phase as well.

Aggregate – Called data conditioning by Mike Loukides, the aggregation phase is where contextual discovery happens.  This could be accomplished through contextual search filters, taxonomies defined by specific alerts, or the use of the MapReduce and Hadoop query and relevance tools in use today.

Transform – Where Hadoop could be used for driving data analysis and as Mike Loukides calls this level of analysis, data jiujitsu.   Examples are mentioned by both Mike Loukides and Mac Slocum including the Hadoop Online Prototype (HOP), which does real-time stream processing and several others.  The impact of the access, aggregate and transform methodology on visualization is available at Flowing Data, one of the best sites on the Web for seeing how MapReduce, Hadoop and other data science-related techniques are taking on massive amounts of data and delivering insights.

Conclusion

Solving the big data problems of social media monitoring, sentiment analysis, forming a scalable platform for social CRM, integrating CRM, supply chain management and logistics data to demand management – and tying all of these areas to financial performance – is potentially achievable with data science.  Deployed as a cloud-based platform opens up even greater potential for getting the most use of social networks, free data sources, and third-party databases than is possible today.

Be sure to check out the video below of Roger Magoulas, O’Reilly’s Director of Research, where he was interviewed about data science.

Article links:

What is data science? By Mike Loukides  O’Reilly Radar
Six months after “What is data science?”  by Mac Slocum O’Reilly Radar

SaaS Is For Closers – How High Performance Sales Teams Use OnDemand Apps to Beat Competitors

There are plenty of sales teams exceeding their sales quotas today.

Much of their success comes from the commitment their companies have to creating sales training systems that are delivered over SaaS platforms. From Proctor & Gamble, which has a state-of-the-art sales training system delivered entirely over the Web, to General Electric who also has an exceptional sales training program and many others, there are companies investing heavily in SaaS-based training platforms for their sales and distribution networks.  Many smaller software companies I have worked with use Force.com as the development platform to create their own sales and partner training systems entirely in-house as well.  This area of SaaS application development is proliferating today.  Here are several take-aways from the activity going on right now.

Take-Aways

Of the thirteen companies I know of who have created their own sales training system entirely on a SaaS platform within the last year, seven have met or exceeded their sales quotas in their latest fiscal year.  This is a 53% success rate.

What is going on is that the companies who beat their quotas launched their OnDemand training systems months before a major revenue event, including new product introductions and planned bundling campaigns.  The result was a major increase in sales efficiency due to the accelerated and focused training.

  • SaaS Training Systems Often Turn Into Competitive Analysis Hubs On Steroids. One enterprise software company is using Force.com as the platform of choice for creating an entire network of sites and portals on competitive analysis topics and projects.  This has turned into an online community that unifies direct and channel partner sales with knowledge.  It is very effective in distributing competitive pricing and strategy ideas on how to beat competitors on deals.
  • Putting Tribal Knowledge to Work Selling. Taking the knowledge inside a company that is learned over time and getting it included in an online training system is invaluable.  All companies in the 53% who are beating their quotas have done this.  Their training managers are experts at gleaning tribal knowledge out of the company and getting it into the online learning systems so sales can use it to sell.
  • Role-based learning that can be tailored to different selling scenarios is a must-have. This is what the Force.com platform does very well, it allows these companies, many of them in the B2B manufacturing arena, to create role-based learning paths and programs for their sales teams.  Each member of a team has to go through the online training and score at a sufficient level to get more leads and get out to customers.  The more they learn the more they earn.

Bottom line: Sales training is the secret weapon many companies are using to beat their competitors on deals today.  The ability to deliver training anytime, anywhere on a SaaS platform just strengthens a sales force even more.  Add in putting tribal knowledge to work and creating online competitive analysis hubs, and the competitive strengths of a company become even more formidable.

Ingram Micro Seeing Traction with Cloud Conduit Initiative

Bottom line: Reselling cloud computing services shows much potential as a market for technology platform and application providers. The challenge is the ability to tailor the services mix efficiently and accurately enough to capitalize on scalability and selective demand of mid-tier and small business end users.

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A Look at MIT Media Lab’s Fascinating Project, Comm.unity And Its Potential for CRM

Being able to consolidate the many contacts, friends and associates from all the social networks you participate in to single contextual space that allows for them to be grouped by geographic proximity, trust, and shared interest is the ambitious goal of the MIT Media Labs Comm.unity platform.

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