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Posts from the ‘CPQ’ Category

What Needs To Be On Your CPQ Channel Roadmap In 2019

Bottom Line:  Adding new features to your CPQ channel selling platform directly benefits your resellers and channel partners, driving greater revenue, channel loyalty, and expansion into new markets.

Personalization Is Key To CPQ Succeeding In Channels

Sustaining and strengthening relationships across all indirect selling channels succeeds when dealers, multi-tier distributors, resellers, intermediaries, and service providers each can personalize the CPQ applications and platforms they use. Larger dealers, distributors, and resellers are adept at personalizing CPQ selling portals by the various roles in their organization. Personalization combined with a highly intuitive, configurable interface improves CPQ applications’ ease of use, enabling channel partners to get more done. The more intuitive and easy a CPQ application is to use, the more channel partners rely on it to place orders. When distributors are representing, on average, 12 different manufacturers,  the one with the most intuitive, easily used CPQ system often gets the majority of sales.

Another aspect of personalization is defining levels of resellers. When many organizations first launch their CPQ channel selling strategies, one of the first requests they have is to organize all channel partners into performance categories. Differentiating channel partners on sales performance, customer satisfaction, and aftermarket revenue then gamifying how every one of them can move up a level is proving to be very effective at increasing channel sales. Competing with one another to be the top reseller for the manufacturing and service companies lifts an entire channel network to higher performance.

Every dealer, multi-tier distributor, reseller, intermediary, and service provider also has a unique way of selling that works best for their business. Another must-have feature on any CPQ channel roadmap is greater workflow flexibility to support increasingly complex, IoT- and AI-enabled configurable products. Smart, connected products are the future of manufacturing and channel sales. Capgemini estimates that the size of the connected products market will be $519B to $685B by 2020. Workflows like the one shown below of an internal sales rep using a multichannel CPQ system to order a customized product are due for a refresh to support even greater flexibility for more channels and greater product options.


Most Valuable Features For A CPQ Channel Roadmap In 2019

There’s a direct link between how effective a CPQ platform is across multi-tier distribution networks and the productivity of sales teams using them. 83% of sales teams are using CPQ apps today based on Accenture Interactive’s recent study, Empowering Your Sales Force: It’s Not Just Automation, It’s Personal (8 pp., PDF, no opt-in). There’s ample evidence that the more effective a CPQ platform is at equipping dealers, multi-tier distributors, resellers, intermediaries, and service providers, the greater the sales they achieve. The 2019 B2B Buyers Survey Report, by DemandGen in collaboration with DemandBase, found that B2B buyers are more likely to purchase from sales representatives who demonstrate a stronger knowledge of the solution area and the business landscape (65%) compared to competitors. B2B buyers also give high praise for sales teams who can provide quotes quickly and respond to their inquiries promptly (63%), in addition to providing higher-quality content (61%). Each of these benefits is derived from a CPQ platform that can scale across every phase of the selling lifecycle.

The following are the key features needed on CPQ channel roadmaps in 2019 to stay competitive and scale sales and revenue on pace with market growth:

  • Greater personalization for each type of partner portal supported by real-time integration to CRM and ERP systems, designed to scale for sales team turnover across multi-tier distribution networks. Channel partners’ sales teams tend to churn quickly, and it’s best to design in intuitive, easily configured portals by sales role to help new hires get up to speed fast. Channel sales associates are typically the fastest-churning area of any selling business. With greater personalization comes the need for greater integration to provide the data needed to enable partner portals to have a greater depth of functionality. The following graphic from Deloitte’s recent study, Configure, Price, and Quote (CPQ) Capabilities illustrates this point:

  • Support for multi-tier pricing, price management, price optimization, price enforcement, and special workflows, including Special Pricing Requests (SPR). Baseline CPQ platforms support price management and have successfully transitioned multi-tier distribution networks off of Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to a single pricing model that scales across all products and channels. Consider adopting advanced pricing logic to support SPRs so sales operations teams don’t have to do this process manually. In manufacturers who have transitioned from manual to automated SPR approvals, average deal sizes have increased over 60%, and productivity jumped over 76% according to a recent Gartner survey.
  • Augment advanced product configuration tools by making them more intuitive and easier to use to sell the more advanced products in your catalog. It’s time to push the boundaries of CPQ channel selling systems to sell more complex products and drive greater revenue and margins. Forward-thinking manufacturers are taking a virtual design and 3D-based design approach to accomplish this. Enabling channel partners to take larger orders for more complex products is paying off.
  • Upgrade guided selling strategies to be more than catalog-based selection systems, mining customer data using machine learning to see which products they have the greatest propensity to buy when. It’s time to migrate off of the guided selling systems that are selecting products from catalogs that may deliver the best gross margins or have a traditionally high attach rate with the product the customer is buying. Machine learning is making it possible to provide greater accuracy and precision to recommendations than ever before.
  • Improve the usability of sales promotions, rebates, and most importantly, Market Development Funds (MDF). It’s amazing how much time manufacturers are spending manually handling MDF claims today. It’s time to automate this area of the CPQ channel roadmap and save thousands of hours and dollars a year while enabling resellers to get reimbursed faster or get the funds they need to grow their businesses.
  • Contract management is a must-have for CPQ channel roadmaps today. Integrating a cloud-based contract management system into a CPQ platform is vital for taking one more step towards an end-to-end quote-to-cash workflow being in place. Real-time integration to contract management can save days of waiting for contract approvals, all leading to more closed deals and faster, more lucrative sales cycles.
  • Manufacturers can realize greater revenue potential through their channels by combining machine learning insights to find those aftermarket customers most ready to buy while accelerating sales closing cycles with CPQ. Manufacturers want to make sure they are getting their fair share of the aftermarket. Using a machine learning-based application, they can help their resellers increase average deal sizes by knowing which products and services to offer when. They’ll also know when to present upsell and cross-sell offers into an account at a specific point in time when they will be most likely to lead to additional sales, all based on machine learning-based insights. Combining machine learning-based insights to guide resellers to the most valuable and highest probability customer accounts ready to buy with an intuitive CPQ system increases sales efficiency leading to higher revenues.

Conclusion

Now that the solutions exist for resellers to simplify CPQ selling strategies, it’s up to each manufacturer to decide how competitive they want their channel partner roadmap to be. Any given manufacturer’s quoting and configuration tools today are competing with 11 others on average for a reseller’s time, it is clear that roadmaps need a refresh to stay competitive. Suggested options include offering greater personalization, multi-tier pricing and a more thorough approach to price management, advanced product configuration support, revamped guided selling strategies and improved usability of sales promotions, rebates, and Market Development Funds (MDF). Manufacturers need to prioritize each of these features relative to their product- and revenue-specific goals by channel. A fascinating company who has deep expertise in designing, implementing, and scaling analytics, service, sales, IoT, and CPQ solutions for manufacturers is eLogic. The company’s mission is to enable manufacturers to achieve the highest value customer engagement and product & service lifecycle performance. eLogic is regarded as the leading system integration partner in CPQ and product configuration and is considered a global leader in delivering business solutions for manufacturers across SAP configuration technologies and Microsoft Dynamics 365, Power Platform & Azure.

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CPQ Needs To Scale And Support Smarter, More Connected Products

  • For smart, connected product strategies to succeed they require a product lifecycle view of configurations, best attained by integrating PLM, CAD, CRM, and ERP systems.
  • Capgemini estimates that the size of the connected products market will be $519B to $685B by 2020.
  • In 2018, $985B will be spent on IoT-enabled smart consumer devices, soaring to $1.49B in 2020, attaining a 23.1% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) according to Statista.
  • Industrial manufacturers will spend on average $121M a year on smart, connected products according to Statista.

Succeeding with a smart, connected product strategy is requiring manufacturers to accelerate their IoT & software development expertise faster than they expected. By 2020, 50% of manufacturers will generate the majority of their revenues from smart, connected products according to Capgemini’s recent study. Manufacturers see 2019 as the breakout year for smart, connected products and the new revenue opportunities they provide.

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platforms has the potential of providing a single, unified data model across an entire manufacturing operation, giving manufacturers a single unified view of product configurations across their lifecycles. Producing smart, connected products at scale also requires a system capable of presenting a unified view of configurations in the linguistics each department can understand. Engineering, production, marketing, sales, and service all need a unique view of product configurations to keep producing new products. Leaders in this field include Configit and their Configuration Lifecycle Management approach to CPQ and product configuration.

Please see McKinsey’s article IIoT platforms: The technology stack as a value driver in industrial equipment and machinery which explores how the Industrial Internet of things (IIoT) is redefining industrial equipment and machinery manufacturing. The following graphic from the McKinsey explains why smart, connected product strategies are accelerating across all industries. Please click on the graphic to expand it for easier reading.

CPQ Needs To Scale Further To Sell Smart, Connected Products

Smart, connected products are redefining the principles of product design, manufacturing, sales, marketing, and service. CPQ systems need to grow beyond their current limitations by capitalizing on these new principles while scaling to support new business models that are services and subscription-based.

The following are the key areas where CPQ systems are innovating today, making progress towards enabling the custom configuration of smart, connected products:

  • For smart, connected product strategies to succeed they require a product lifecycle view of configurations, best attained by integrating PLM, CAD, CRM, and ERP systems. Smart, connected product strategies require real-time integration between front-end and back-end systems to optimize production performance. And they also require advanced visualization that provides prospects with an accurate, 3D-rendered view that can be accurately translated to a Bill of Materials (BOM) and into production. The following graphic is based on conversations with Configit customers, illustrating how they are combining PLM, CAD, CRM and ERP systems to support smart, connected products related to automotive manufacturing. Please click on the graphic to expand it for easier reading.

  • CPQ and product configuration systems need to reflect the products they’re specifying are part of a broader ecosystem, not stand-alone. The essence of smart, connected products is their contributions to broader, more complex networks and ecosystems. CPQ systems need to flex and support much greater system interoperability of products than they do today. Additional design principles include designing in connected service options, evergreen or long-term focus on the product-as-a-platform and designed in support for entirely new pricing models.
  • Smart, connected products need CPQ systems to reduce physical complexity while scaling device intelligence through cross-sells, up-sells and upgrades. Minimizing the physical options to allow for greater scale and support for device intelligence-based ones are needed in CPQ systems today. For many CPQ providers, that’s going to require different data models and taxonomies of product definitions. Smart, connected products will be modified after purchase as well, evolving to customers’ unique requirements.
  • After-sales service for smart, connected products will redefine pricing and profit models for the better in 2019, and CPQ needs to keep up to make it happen. Giving products the ability to send back their usage rates and patterns, reliability and performance data along with their current condition opens up lucrative pricing and services models. CPQ applications need to be able to provide quotes for remote diagnostics, price breaks on subscriptions for sharing data, product-as-a-service and subscription-based options for additional services. Many CPQ systems will need to be updated to support entirely new services-driven business models manufacturers are quickly adopting today.

Five Ways CPQ Is Revolutionizing Selling Today

CPQ, Salesforce CPQ, enosiX SAP to Salesforce Integration Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) continues to be one of the hottest enterprise apps today, fueled by the relentless need all companies have to increase sales while delivering customized orders profitably and accurately. Here are a few of the many results CPQ strategies are delivering today:

  • Companies relying on CPQ are growing profit margins at a 57% greater rate year-over-year compared to non-adopters.
  • 89% improvement in turning Special Pricing Requests (SPRs) into sales by automating them using a cloud-based CPQ system.
  • 67% reduction in reworked orders at a leading specialty vehicle manufacturer due to quotes reflecting exactly what customers wanted to buy.
  • 23% improvement in upsell and cross-sell revenue by having the CPQ system intelligently recommend the optimal product or service that has the highest probability of purchase and best possible gross margin.
  • CPQ strategies excel when they are designed to reach challenging selling, pricing, revenue and operational performance goals versus automating existing selling workflows.

Another factor fueling CPQs’ rapid growth is how quickly results of a pilot can be measured and used for launching a successful company-wide launch.  Pilots often concentrate on quote creation time, quoting accuracy, sales cycle reduction, automating Special Pricing Requests (SPRs), up-sells and cross-sells, perfect order performance, margin improvements and best of all, winning new customers. These are the baseline metrics many companies use to measure their CPQ performance. Throughout 2017 these metrics across industries are accelerating. There is a revolution going on in selling today.

5 Ways CPQ Is Revolutionizing Selling Today

Cloud- and SaaS-based CPQ solutions are quicker to implement, easier to customize to customers’ requirements, and available 24/7 on any Internet-enabled device, anytime. Many are designed to integrate into Salesforce, further accelerating adoption seamlessly.  The following five factors are the primary catalysts revolutionizing selling today:

  1. Designing in excellent user experiences (UX) is the new normal for CPQ apps – CPQ vendors are competing with the quality of user experiences they deliver in 2017, moving beyond packing every feature possible into app releases. This is having a corresponding impact on adoption, increasing the number of sales representatives and entire teams who can get up and running fast with a new CPQ app. The net result is reduced sales cycles, growing pipelines, and more sales reps actively using CPQ apps to increase their selling effectiveness.
  2. Integrating with legacy CRM, ERP and pricing systems in real-time are using service-oriented frameworks gives sales teams what they need to close deals faster – Legacy CPQ systems in the past often had very precise field mappings to 3rd party legacy CRM, ERP and pricing systems. They were brittle and would break very easily, slowing down sales cycles and making sales reps resort to manually-based approaches from decades before. In 2017 there are service-oriented frameworks that make brittle, easily broken mappings thankfully an integration practice in the past. With a loosely coupled service framework, real-time integration between CRM and ERP systems can be quickly be implemented and sales teams can get out and close more deals. Leaders in the area include enosiX, who are enabling their customers’ sales forces to enter sales orders into SAP directly from Salesforce, saving valuable selling time and increasing order accuracy.
  3. Competing for deals using Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning and Intelligent Agents are force multipliers driving greater salesSalesforce’s Einstein is an example of the latest generation of AI applications that are enabling sales reps and teams to gain insights that weren’t available before. Combining customer data with these advanced predictive data analytics technologies yields insights into how selling strategies for different accounts can customize to specific prospect needs. Selling strategies are more effective and focused when AI, machine learning, and Intelligent Agents are designed in to guide quoting, pricing and product configuration in real-time.
  4. CPQ apps optimized for mobile devices are enabling sales reps to drastically reduce quote creation times, sales cycles and increase sales win rates – For many companies whose sales teams are in the field calling on accounts the majority of the time, mobile-based CPQ apps are how they get the majority of their work done. Salesforce’s Force.com is one of the leading platforms CPQ software companies are relying on to create mobile apps, further capitalizing on the already-established levels of familiarity sales teams have with the Salesforce platform.
  5. The vision many companies have of synchronizing multichannel and omnichannel selling as part of their CPQ strategies is now attainable – One of the greatest challenges of expanding sales channels is ensuring a consistently high-quality customer experience across each. With on-premise CPQ, CRM and ERP selling systems, this is very challenging as there are often multiple database systems supporting each. This is a breakout year for omnichannel selling as cloud-based CPQ systems and the platforms they are built on can securely scale across all selling channels a company chooses to launch. Being able to track which CPQ deals emanated from which marketing program, and which channels are the most effective in closing sales is now possible.

3 Ways To Improve Selling Results With SAP Integration


sap-integration
The more integrated the systems are supporting any selling strategy, the greater the chances sales will increase. That’s because accuracy, speed, and quality of every quote matter more than ever. Being able to strengthen every customer interaction with insight and intelligence often means the difference between successful upsells, cross-sells and the chance to bid and win new projects. Defining a roadmap to enrich selling strategies using SAP integration is delivering results across a variety of manufacturing and service industries today.

Getting more value out of the customer data locked in legacy SAP systems can improve selling results starting with existing sales cycles. Knowing what each customer purchased, when, at what price, and for which project or location is invaluable in accelerating sales cycles today. There are many ways to improve selling results using SAP integration, and the following are the top three based on conversations with SAP Architects, CIOs and IT Directors working with Sales Operations to improve selling results. These five approaches are generating more leads, closing more deals, leading to better selling decisions and improving sales productivity.

 3 Ways SAP Integration Is Improving Selling Results

  1. Reducing and eliminating significant gaps in the Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) process by integrating Salesforce and SAP systems improves selling and revenue results quickly. The following two illustrations compare how much time and revenue escape from the selling process. It’s common to see companies lose at least 20% of their orders when they rely on manual approaches to handling quotes, pricing, and configurations. The greater the complexity of the deal is the more potential for lost revenue.  The second graphic shows how greater system integration leads to lower costs to complete an order, cycle time reductions, order rework reductions, and lead times for entire orders dropping from 69 to 22 days.

3 Ways To Improve Selling Results With SAP Integration

3 Ways To Improve Selling Results With SAP Integration

  1. Having customer order history, pricing, discounts and previously purchased bundles stored in SAP ERP systems integrated into Salesforce will drive better decisions on which customers are most likely to buy upsells, cross-sells and new products when. Instead of having just to rely on current activity with a given customer, sales teams can analyze sales history to find potential purchasing trends and indications of who can sign off on deals in progress. Having real-time access to SAP data within Salesforce gives sales teams the most valuable competitive advantage there is, which is more time to focus on customers and closing deals.  enosiX is taking a leadership role in the area of real-time SAP to Salesforce integration, enabling enterprises to sell and operate more effectively.
  1. Improving Sales Operations and Customer Service productivity by providing customer data in real-time via Salesforce to support teams on a 24/7 basis worldwide. The two departments who rely on customer data more than sales need to have real-time access to customer data on a 24/7 basis from any device at any time, on a global scale. By integrating customer data held today in SAP ERP and related systems to Salesforce, Sales Operations, and Customer Service will have the visibility they’ve never had before. And that will translate into faster response times, higher customer satisfaction and potentially more sales too.

Additional Reading:

Accenture, Empowering Your Sales Force

Aberdeen Group, Configure-Price-Quote: Best-In-Class Deployments that Speed The Sale

Aberdeen Group, Configure/Price/Quote: Better, Faster Sales Deals Enabled

Aberdeen Group, Sales Enablement Advances In Configure/Price/Quote Solutions

Forbes, What’s Hot In CRM Applications, 2015: Why CPQ Continues To Accelerate

Forbes,  Cloud-Based CPQ Continues To Be One Of The Hottest Enterprise Apps Of 2016

Forbes, Five Ways Cloud-Based CPQ Increases Sales Effectiveness And Drives Up CRM Adoption

The Sales Management Association,  The Impact of Quoting Automation: Enabling the Sales Force, Optimizing Profits, and Improving Customer Engagement

5 Ways Real-Time Mobile Apps Delight Customers And Streamline Manufacturing

  • 2017-mobile-apps-in-manufacturingProviding real-time responses 24/7 on any mobile device anywhere is the new normal in 2017.
  • 54% of B2B companies selling online report that their customers are using smartphones to research purchases, and 52% say that their customers are using smartphones to buy online
  • The majority of CEOs (86%) see mobility as essential to creating and sustaining a competitive advantage.
  • Industrial manufacturing CEOs prioritize mobility (73%), cybersecurity (72%) and data mining and analysis (70%) as their top three priorities for attaining competitive advantage.

PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PWC) annually surveys global CEOs to learn about their current and future priorities, plans and technology adoption trends. PwC’s 18th Annual Global CEO Survey (free, no opt-in) is based on interviews with 1,322 CEOs located in 77 countries. The survey provides valuable insights into the strategic direction enterprises are taking with technology investments.

The following graphic from the report illustrates the strategic importance CEOs are placing on mobile technologies:

Competing On Accuracy, Speed And Responsiveness Is How You Win Today

CEOs at the world’s leading industrial manufacturing companies share a common focus on how to continually improve the accuracy, speed, and responsiveness of their companies using mobile technologies. A recent study by research firm Forrester shows that 54% of B2B companies selling online report that their customers are using smartphones to research purchases, and 52% say that their customers are using smartphones to buy online.

Being ready to respond with complete quotes, pricing, order status, delivery dates, updated service information on a 24/7 basis on any device anywhere is the new normal. Amazon’s ability to take orders, process, ship and deliver them in some cases all within 24 hours is driving up expectations in B2B selling too.  And a key part of making sure you can compete in 2017 and beyond is by having an integrated mobile apps strategy that provides customers the information they need when they need it.

The following are five ways real-time mobile apps delight customers and streamline manufacturing:

  1. Enabling configure, price and quoting (CPQ) apps to provide real-time updates on any device, anywhere wins more deals and keeps customers sold on doing business with you. According to a recent Gartner study, the competitor in any deal who is the first to produce a quality quote will win the deal 70% of the time. Given the competitive intensity around delivering the first, highest quality quote possible, having mobile apps that are based on real-time Salesforce and SAP integration is a must-have. From the very first interaction with any new prospect to closing a sale, having mobile apps that deliver real-time information gained through CRM and ERP integration is key.
  1. Being able to answer “When will my order ship?” anytime, anywhere on any device, at any time is what it takes to win and keep customers today. It’s time to challenge the outdated assumption that customers only want to speak with you when your legacy systems are available. The best manufacturers are modeling Amazon today, providing real-time alerts on when orders are being prepared to ship, providing e-mail and text alerts and delivery times and shipping information. Mobile apps need to be used to extend past the boundaries of legacy systems that don’t meet the minimum expectations of customers today. The CEO of an electrical machine manufacturer told me that once he was able to launch mobile apps for his customers, there was a 76% reduction in order status calls to the enterprise sales teams and 13% increase in sales the first six months these apps were available.
  1. Getting in control of quality and being able to manage customer expectations and relationships to positive outcomes with accurate data. Quality, compliance, inbound inspection and quality assurance are applications that often are isolated from CRM, ERP and customer service systems. The lack of integration between these systems wastes valuable time in getting back to customers on how best to solve quality problems and address questions they may have. That’s why it’s so important to have compliance, product quality, and quality assurance data delivered on mobile apps in a context the customer can use. Having this data available over mobile apps, enabled for customers’ use via Salesforce integration, reduces problem escalations and provides greater accuracy. Enabling quality data on mobile apps also helps to unify operations and production, giving everyone on the shop floor visibility into quality levels of order and long-term, over product lines being produced. Making data and reporting available company-wide often requires integration to SAP ERP and legacy systems, with companies including enosiX emerging as market leaders.
  1. Reducing Field Service call cancellations and delays by accurately communicating parts and staffing requirements shows respect for your customers. There is nothing more frustrating from a customer’s perspective than waiting for a field service technician to show up, only to find they don’t have the necessary parts or are told the problem was completely different than the one that needs to be solved. By enabling Salesforce integration with field service apps and providing customers with real-time alerts to their mobile devices via an app, field service calls can lead to solved problems and higher customer satisfaction faster.
  1. Providing customers with real-time updates via mobile apps on delivery dates driven by supply chain conditions helps in managing expectations while giving production planners the information they need to meet demand. Manufacturers whose business models rely on rapid inventory turns, tight production schedules, and thin margins are the leading early adopters of mobile technologies for logistics and supply chain coordination. Enabling mobile apps to provide the latest updates on Available-To-Promise (ATP), Capable-To-Promise (CTP) requires SAP integration across the Salesforce platform. Being able to provide updates on how suppliers are potentially impacting their delivery dates on orders is invaluable in managing expectations over the long-term.

Key Takeaways From Gartner’s Market Guide For Configure, Price and Quote (CPQ) Application Suites, 2016

  • NYC SkylineGartner estimates the CPQ application suites market was $570M in 2015, attaining 20% year-on-year growth between 2014 and 2015.
  • Cloud-based CPQ revenue was $157M in 2015, attaining 46% year-over-year.
  • Gartner predicts CPQ will continue to be one of the hottest enterprise apps for the foreseeable future, predicting a 20% annual growth rate through 2020 with the majority being from cloud-based solutions. Legacy on-premise vendors including SAP’s Variant Configurator (VC) are going to face increasingly strong headwinds in the market as a result.
  • SaaS and Cloud solutions are driving the majority of CPQ market growth today, fueling greater innovation in the market.
  • The CPQ market continues to grow as companies replace legacy on-premise CPQ apps and outdated ERP quoting and ordering apps with cloud-based CPQ solutions.

These and many other insights are from the recently published Gartner Market Guide for Configure, Price and Quote Application Suites (PDF, client access required) by Mark David Lewis and Guneet Bharaj on October 27th of this year. CPQ selling strategies are part of the broader Quote-To-Cash (QTC) business process that encompasses, quotes, contracts, order management and billing. CPQ market leaders also are offering solutions that support the creation of quotes and capturing of orders across multiple channels of customer interaction (such as direct sales, contact center, resellers and self-service). Cloud- and SaaS-based CPQ systems scale faster across multiple channels and often have higher adoption rates than their legacy on-premise counterparts due to more intuitive app designs and better integration with Cloud-based Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Sales Force Automation (SFA) and incentives systems.

What makes the Market Guide so noteworthy is that it is the first research piece on CPQ published by a major analyst firm in several years.

Key takeaways from the study include the following:

  • Microsoft Azure and the Salesforce platform are benefiting the most from the intense competition in the CPQ market today. Microsoft Azure is emerging as the enterprise leader from a platform perspective, evidenced by the points made in my previous post, Seven Ways Microsoft Redefined Azure For The Enterprise And Emerged A Leader. Being able to scale globally and provide greater control over security and openly address Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) concerns of enterprises are a few of the many factors driving Azure’s adoption.  Salesforce has gone in a different direction in the CPQ market, choosing to acquire SteelBrick earlier this year. Salesforce in effect became a competitor with its partners in the CPQ market by doing this. According to Gartner, SteelBrick is a good solution for high-tech assemble to order (ATO) and software companies.  Last month Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff was interviewed at the Intel Capital Global Summit, and the video is available here.  At 11 min., 20 seconds, he says that “Steelbrick is not for all customers, so Apttus still has a tremendous opportunity.” Earlier this year Apttus announced their entire QTC suite is now available on Microsoft Dynamics, showing just how critical it is for CPQ engineering teams to move fast from a platform strategy perspective to keep their companies growing.
  • Omnichannel and digital commerce is a high-growth area of CPQ as companies seek to improve buying experiences across all customer-facing channels. For many companies, their omnichannel selling strategies and initiatives are proliferating, driven by how quickly customers are changing the channels they buy through. Leading CPQ and QTC suites are now offering digital commerce and omnichannel apps integrated into their main app platforms. They are having initial success in B2B selling scenarios where self-service configuration is needed.  Gartner mentions Apttus, Oracle CPQ Cloud, and SAP as having the most robust digital commerce offerings today.
  • CPQ vendors are attempting to reinvent themselves by innovating faster and more broadly than before. Relying on machine learning to recommend the optimal incentives, pricing, and terms to close more deals and increase up-sell and cross-sell revenues through guided selling apps is a fascinating area of innovation today. Apttus’ Intelligent Quote-to-Cash Agent Max, Salesforce’s Einstein and others exemplify this area of development. Rapid advances and improvements in visualization, 3D modeling and Configuration Lifecycle Management (CLM) from Configit also illustrate how quickly innovation is changing the landscape. Gartner also mentions intelligent negotiation guidance, mobile configuration support, estimated compensation, verticalization, and deeper integration with back-end fulfillment systems as being additional areas where innovation is redefining the competitive landscape.
  • Improving promotion, incentive and rebate performance across a multitier selling network based on machine learning algorithms is redefining the QTC competitive landscape. Eighteen CPQ vendors are profiled in the market guide, many of them selling into industries that rely on complex multitier distribution, selling and support networks for the majority of their revenue. It’s clear many are moving in the direction of using machine learning to improve the effectiveness of promotions, incentives, and rebates across all selling channels. Being able to provide the best possible incentive to a distributor, dealer or 3rd party sales person defines which manufacturer wins the deal. Look to see more emphasis in this area in 2017 as CPQ vendors work to provide companies with the chance to steer more deals their way in channels they don’t directly control.
  • The CPQ landscape will continue to consolidate as the race for new customers accelerates, driven by the need companies have for improving QTC performance. Gartner mentions how there have been major acquisitions over the last four years including Big Machines being acquired by Oracle, Salesforce acquiring SteelBrick, Configure One acquired by AutoDesk, and Cameleon Software was acquired by Pros. There are many other CPQ vendors privately for sale right now, with all of them looking to find an acquirer or company to merge with who can best complement their core technologies. Look to see the pace of acquisitions accelerate in the next year.
  • I’m looking to see which CPQ vendors further distance themselves from competitors with modern and intuitive user experience design (UX). CPQ, while a necessary foundation piece for B2B use cases is evolving into the broader Quote-to-Cash umbrella. To attain its full market potential, I believe that CPQ vendors must excel at UX across all products and app experiences. I am looking forward to seeing which vendors will invest in modern and intuitive UX to drive this change in the market and deliver great experiences to customers as a result.
  • From the enosiX blog, Key Takeaways From Gartner’s Market Guide For Configure, Price and Quote (CPQ) Application Suites, 2016
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