Service businesses must keep finding new ways to add value to existing clients while removing barriers that slow growth. Overcoming the challenges of outdated HR planning and human resource management (HRM), contract management, and CRM systems are table stakes for staying competitive.
FinancialForce’s Summer 22 release aims to turn those weaknesses into strengths with one of the most comprehensive releases they’ve had lately. “Organizations continue to be buffeted by market disruptions, from spiraling inflation to new COVID variants and unanticipated supply chain issues,” said Scott Brown, President and Chief Executive Officer of FinancialForce. “Our new Services-as-a-Business approach delivers the automation, intelligence, and innovation that services organizations need to become more agile so they can expertly turn disruption into opportunity.”
Improving Opportunity-to-Renewal Is Key
FinancialForce’s Summer 2022 release reflects how services businesses need to gain greater visibility and control across to their opportunity-to-renewal process while growing more resilient to spiraling costs, uncertain supply chains, and chronic labor shortages. They need to take on these challenges and keep growing. FinancialForce believes its Business-as-a-Service unified platform can strengthen services’ traditionally weak areas (integrated HR, CRM, & contract management) without giving up on how fast they can react to new opportunities.
CEOs and COOs running several leading professional services firms spoken with recently say that tight labor markets, rising prices, and blind spots in the opportunity-to-renewal cycles are hurting revenue. As a result, they’re seeing a drain in Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) and Customer Lifetime Value at risk. They also see that the blind spots in Contract Management, Configure, Price & Quote (CPQ), Resource Management, and Financial Planning & Analysis (FPA) across opportunity-to-renewal grow wider the more diverse their client bases become. What’s needed is a 360-degree view of the opportunity-to-renewal process that encompasses every aspect of service operations, from sales to delivery to customer success management, financial management, and planning.
FinancialForce’s Summer 22 release introduces Business-as-a-Service to bridge the gaps in the opportunity-to-renewal process, improving customer experiences, and driving faster growth by enabling greater real-time collaboration and visibility organization-wide.
Skills Matching & Scheduling Speed Is A Services Killer App
In the Summer 22 Release, FinancialForce strikes at the heart of what challenges services businesses face the most regarding getting staffing right. Skills matching is new in the release, providing Resource Managers with the insights they need to identify skills related to open roles as either Essential or Desirable. The goal is to bring greater accuracy and speed into the assignment process to control for costs, usage rates, and margin impacts while assigning associates to one project versus another.
Optimizing project schedules and seeing potential scheduling conflicts in real-time helps improve scheduling efficiency by identifying potential project conflicts early and alleviating them by balancing available hours.
A New Streamlined UX Pays Off For Services CPQ
The Summer 22 release marks the first time FinancialForce ERP Cloud and Professional Services (PS) Cloud run entirely on the Salesforce Lightning Experience (LEX). During the FinancialForce analyst briefing, Heidi Minzner, Vice President, Product Management (ERP Cloud) at FinancialForce, demonstrated how users could create, manage and update line-level data on requisitions and purchase orders in a single view. Additionally, LEX is evident across the entire platform.
Of the many improvements announced in the Summer 22 release, updates to Services CPQ are noteworthy. The updated Services CPQ interface built on LEX has streamlined estimates creation and provides options for defining date-driven rates. Reflecting how services businesses need more role management capabilities, the Summer 22 release can enable role requests from templates and also supports pass-through of needed skills.
Services’ CPQ improvements are based partly on the platform’s flexibility LEX provides.
William Spice, Senior Director of Product Management says that Services CPQ and Customer Success Cloud are born in LEX, providing FinancialForce with the flexibility of using the latest Salesforce visual UI to deliver greater simplicity of workflows. “Services CPQ shows us extending the footprint across the whole services lifecycle, allowing our customers to build up a range of different estimates for professional services work, widen the selling and opportunity phase, and then seamlessly be able to transition these into a delivery model,” William said.
“Customer Success Cloud is really focused on making it simple and automatic to create playbooks, which are means for anyone across the organization to help ensure that we’re treating our customers with all the respect and impact they would expect from us. And finally, performance to scale sees us continuing to invest and make sure that our applications scale faster than any of our customers can, and focusing on enterprise-level integrations like linking out of the box with JIRA and Concur, for example,” William concluded.
Improving Opportunity-to-Renewal With More Intelligence
Services CPQ’s improvements reflect revenue managers’ need for greater visibility into their sales pipelines and more insights into the propensity to close by client. FinancialForce takes that a step further by providing insights into which factors are most and least affecting opportunity-to-renewal performance.
Current FinancialForce customers have access to dashboards that deliver utilization performance and staffing efficiency and can be configured to provide revenue forecasting. Also announced is a project burn-up dashboard that visualizes work completed and enables teams to be more cost-efficient during project delivery.
Improving Services Revenue With Real-time Visibility And Control
Business-as-a-Service is predicated on the design goal of enabling any business to migrate into providing services profitably. As a result, product-centric companies’ transition to services is commonplace. Nearly every major equipment manufacturer is now selling the value delivered by their machinery as a service.
The many improvements FinancialForce has made in their platform’s Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) areas reflect how this area is core to getting service revenue right. Of the many announcements made in this area of their platform, highlights include providing FP&A teams with the option of performing headcount planning at the resource level to better understand how compensation adjustments will impact future budgets. In addition, flexible budget templates for improving headcount planning alignment with company goals and objectives are now included.
Also announced is a new Planning Workspace where FP&A teams can collaborate and analyze budget information and potential scenarios. The value of having the entire platform on LEX is evident in how FP&A managers can immediately use financial data to accelerate planning cycles which also drives more accurate forecasting within the Planning Workspace. Also introduced is a new machine-learning-based component to the ERP product suite. Its Intelligent bank reconciliation solution provides accounting teams the agility to match a single bank statement transaction to multiple accounting transactions. It’s also supporting a more extensive end-to-end intelligent transaction matching that streamlines reconciliation procedures. That’s welcome news for accounting teams that need the time for more intensive tasks and would like to be free from the repetitive nature of reconciliation work.
FinancialForce’s decision to change its cadence from four to three releases a year shows its product strategy is delving further into where the gaps are in the opportunity-to-renewal process. Concentrating on three significant releases gives their DevOps and engineering teams the time they need to develop new features while revamping the entire platform to the Salesforce Lightning Experience (LEX). Leading with usability on Services CPQ and Customer Success Cloud makes sense as services businesses need to excel in each area to grow and retain customers. Additionally, a new UX will help accelerate the ramp-up times of new users. FinancialForce enters a new era with the Summer 22 Release, closing gaps in platform strategy while helping customers do the same.
LinkedIn identified four key trends in their analysis, with flexible work is becoming table stakes for recruiting and retaining employees.
These and many other insights are from LinkedIn Top Companies 2022: The 50 best workplaces to grow your career in the U.S., published today. All 50 companies are currently hiring and have over 530,000 jobs open across the U.S, with over 70,000 being remote positions. The LinkedIn analysis of the best companies to grow your career spans 35 global markets, including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Israel, Italy, Spain, the U.K., Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Portugal, India, Japan, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya.
LinkedIn’s Top Companies 2022 spotlights the organizations investing in employee success and career development. LinkedIn’s methodology and internal analysis ranked companies based on seven pillars that display career progression: ability to advance, skills growth, company stability, external opportunity, company affinity, gender diversity, and educational background.
The 19 Best Tech Companies To Grow Your Career In 2022
The following are profiles of the top 19 tech companies hiring in the U.S. today with links to available positions accessible via LinkedIn:
Global headcount: 1,600,000 (with 1,100,000 in the U.S.) | Top U.S. locations: Seattle, San Francisco Bay Area, New York City | Most notable skills: Warehouse Operations, Data Entry, AWS Lambda| Most common job titles: Software Engineer, Fulfillment Associate, Warehouse Associate | Largest job functions: Operations, Engineering, Program and Project Management | What you should know: Even as the country’s second-largest private employer, Amazon continues to compete in recruiting and retaining top talent amid a competitive labor market. The company recently announced that it’s doubling its maximum base salary for corporate and tech workers, and it raised average wages for warehouse workers late last year, increasing pay for more than half a million of its employees. But the e-commerce giant is going beyond compensation, too: investing $1.2 billion over the next three years to expand its education and skills training initiatives. Amazon now pays 100% of college tuition for frontline employees as part of its Career Choice program and covers high school diploma programs, GEDs, and English proficiency certifications.
Global headcount: 156,000 | Top U.S. locations: San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, Seattle | Most notable skills: Video Editing and Production, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), C++| Most common job titles: Software Engineer, Program Manager, Product Manager | Largest job function: Engineering, Information Technology, Program and Project Management |What you should know: It’s been a big year for Alphabet: The company onboarded nearly 6,500 employees last quarter and saw significant growth across Google’s Cloud service and YouTube (whose revenues are now growing at a faster rate than Netflix). For those interested in flexibility, the tech giant has a robust offering. In addition to adopting a hybrid work model, the company told LinkedIn that Alphabet offers four ‘work from anywhere’ weeks per year, sabbaticals for long-term employees, and ‘no meeting’ days. But Alphabet has also worked to maintain a collaborative culture and support career growth while working remotely. Employees can take advantage of resource groups like Women@Google and its Googler-to-Googler training, which lets its workers get first-hand knowledge across different fields from other employees.
Global headcount: 250,000 | Top U.S. locations: New York City; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; San Francisco Bay Area | Most special skills: Kubernetes, Openshift, Hybrid Cloud| Most common job titles: Software Engineer, Project Manager, Data Scientist | Largest job functions: Engineering, Information Technology, Sales |What you should know: The perennial IT giant has re-upped its benefits offerings amid the Great Reshuffle, IBM told LinkedIn. The new initiatives are increased paid time off, more promotion and pay reviews, backup dependent care, virtual tutoring, and ‘compassionate leave’ for parents who experience stillbirth or miscarriage. In addition, as the company moves forward with a hybrid working model that allows employees to decide how often they want to be onsite, IBM has also transformed its onboarding process with “a focus on empathy and engagement” to help remote new hires feel more connected.
Global full-time headcount: 202,600 | Top U.S. locations: Atlanta, Dallas, New York City | Most notable skills:Design Thinking, Customer Experience, Futurism| Most common job titles: Retail Sales Consultant, Client Solutions Executive, Customer Service Representative | Largest job functions: Sales, Information Technology, Engineering |What you should know: Just three years after the acquisition of Time Warner, AT&T is changing course. The company agreed to a deal last year that will combine WarnerMedia’s assets with Discovery’s to create a new, separate global entertainment giant. Once the spinoff is completed (likely mid-2022), the telecom company will be focused on its core business — expanding access to broadband internet. For its employees, AT&T offers several advancement opportunities. For example, it invests $2 million annually in ‘AT&T University,’ an internal training program to help its workers upskill, and has partnered with groups like Udacity and Coursera to offer advanced online courses.
Global headcount: 154,000 | Top U.S. locations: San Francisco Bay Area; Austin, Texas; New York City | Most notable skills: Apple Software and Hardware, Technical Learning, iOS| Most common job titles: Software Engineer, Technical Specialist, Mac Genius | Largest job functions: Engineering, Information Technology, Sales |What you should know: Apple is increasing benefits and pay for retail workers to attract and retain employees at its 270 retail stores across the U.S. — including doubling sick days for both full-time and part-time employees and granting more vacation days. Its retail employees are also eligible for paid parental leave and can access discounted emergency childcare. In addition, after being one of the first companies to tell its corporate employees to work remotely in March 2020, Apple is now asking that they return to the office three days a week.
Global headcount: 189,000 (with 130,000 in the U.S.) | Top U.S. locations: Philadelphia, New York City, Los Angeles | Most notable skills: Media Production, Cable Modems, Broadcast Television | Most common job titles: Software Engineer, Communications Technician, Salesperson | Largest job functions: Engineering, Sales, Information Technology |What you should know: Comcast prioritizes career growth and development among its employees through various benefits — including mentorship programs, department rotations and tuition assistance for continuing education and skills development. As a part of its commitment to wellbeing, it also pays for 78% of its employees’ health care costs. Want an in? Comcast says the #1 skill it looks for in new hires is authenticity. “We believe that by being yourself, you are empowered to do your best work,” the company told LinkedIn.
Global headcount: 71,900 | Top U.S. locations: San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, New York City | Most notable skills: PHP, Program Management, Social Media Marketing| Most common job titles: Software Engineer, Technical Recruiter, Data Scientist | Largest job functions: Engineering, Information Technology, Human Resources
Global headcount: 133,000 | Top U.S. locations: Austin, Texas; Boston; San Francisco Bay Area | Most notable skills: Software as a Service (SaaS), Kubernetes, Salesforce| Most common job titles: Account Executive, Software Engineer, Inside Sales Representative | Largest job functions: Sales, Information Technology, Engineering
Global headcount: 674,000 | Top U.S. locations: Washington D.C., New York City, Chicago | Most notable skills: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Management Consulting, Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)| Most common job titles: Managing Director, Management Consultant, Business Integration Manager | Largest job functions: Information Technology, Business Development, Engineering
Global headcount: 119,400 (with 105,800 in the U.S.) | Top U.S. locations: New York City, Dallas, Washington D.C. | Most notable skills: Quotas, Wireless Technologies, Solution Selling| Most common job titles: Solutions Specialist, Customer Service Representative, Business Account Manager | Largest job functions: Sales, Engineering, Information Technology
Global headcount: 121,000 (with 55,700 in the U.S.) | Top U.S. locations: Portland, Ore.; Phoenix; San Francisco Bay Area | Most notable skills: JMP, System on a Chip (SoC), Statistical Process Control (SPC) | Most common job titles: Software Engineer, Process Engineer, System-on-Chip Design Engineer | Largest job functions: Engineering, Operations, Information Technology
Global headcount: 133,000 (46,600 in the U.S.) | Top U.S. locations: San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, Denver | Most notable skills: Oracle Cloud, NetSuite, OCI | Most common job titles: Software Engineer, Business Development Consultant, Application Sales Manager | Largest job functions: Engineering, Sales, Information Technology
Global headcount: 74,300 (41,000 in the U.S.) | Top U.S. locations: San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, New York City | Most notable skills: Salesforce.com Administration, Salesforce Sales Cloud, Slack | Most common job titles: Account Executive, Software Engineer, Solutions Engineer | Largest job functions: Sales, Engineering, Information Technology
Global headcount: 81,800 (38,800 in the U.S.) | Top U.S. locations: San Francisco Bay Area; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Dallas | Most notable skills: Software as a Service (SaaS), Kubernetes, Network Engineering | Most common job titles: Software Engineer, Account Manager, Program Manager | Largest job functions: Engineering, Information Technology, Sales
Siemens is the parent company of Mendix and others.
Global headcount: 303,000 (with 40,000 in the U.S.) | Top U.S. locations: New York City, Philadelphia, Atlanta | Most notable skills: Building Automation, HVAC Controls, Electrical Troubleshooting | Most common job titles: Project Manager, Software Engineer, Senior Sales Executive | Largest job functions: Engineering, Sales, Operations
Global headcount: 10,400 (with 4,400 in the U.S.) | Top U.S. locations: San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, Washington D.C. | Most notable skills: Junos, Kubernetes, Border Gateway Protocol (BGP)| Most common job titles: Software Engineer, System Engineer, Technical Support Engineer | Largest job functions: Engineering, Sales, Information Technology
Viasat is the parent company of RigNet and others.
Global headcount: 5,800 | Top U.S. locations: San Diego, Denver, Atlanta | Most notable skills: RF Test, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Satellite Communications (SATCOM)| Most common job titles: Software Engineer, Program Manager, System Engineer | Largest job functions: Engineering, Information Technology, Operations
Global headcount: 5,000 (with 3,000 in the U.S.) | Top U.S. locations: Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles | Most notable skills: MATLAB, Simulink, Deep Learning| Most common job titles: Software Engineer, Application Support Engineer, Principal Software Engineer | Largest job function: Engineering, Information Technology, Sales
Flexible work is becoming table stakes for recruiting and retaining employees. With job seekers and employees in the driver’s seat and able to ask for the work-life balance they need, flexible work has become required to attract and retain top talent. Most companies on this year’s list offer some form of work-from-anywhere flexibility, with more than 70,000 remote jobs open now across the top 50 companies. Many companies also allow employees to set their schedules and work custom “on” hours through asynchronous work. Some, like Amazon (#1), Raytheon Technologies (#21), and General Motors (#44), are encouraging work-life balance with company-wide days off, while others offer unlimited paid vacation and sabbaticals. In addition, many companies are testing out new flexible offerings – employees at Cisco (#30) have adopted a four-day workweek through the company’s Interim Reduced Workweek program, IBM (#6) has set mandatory “off” hours, Cognizant (#33) offers the option to work a compressed week through its WorkFlex program, Realogy (#40) has a no meetings policy on “Focus Fridays,” Publicis Groupe (#41) allows employees the freedom to work from anywhere they like for up to six weeks per year and PwC (#32) allows employees to step away from work for up to six months while paid through its new Leave of Absence program.
Top companies offer stability in an unstable world. While many companies across the U.S. have faced challenges and disruptions over the last year, the Top Companies offer stability and upskilling opportunities that employees can count on – from tuition assistance and PTO for professional development to mentorship programs and job shadowing. Many organizations instituted new programs to retain employees. For example, Deloitte (#11) introduced a new Talent Experience Office focused on employee sentiments and preferences to help inform company choices, EY (#22) offers a Pathway to Purpose virtual program to help employees discover and live their personal purpose and vision, and Kimley-Horn (#31) offers job rotations, so employees learn from different roles and departments. Amazon (#1) is investing $1.2 billion to expand its education and skills training initiatives, Walmart (#5) gives field-based associates access to a no-cost college degree through its Live Better U program, and Verizon (#18) offers an apprenticeship program for those facing employment loss due to automation in technology to prepare them for the jobs of the future. PwC (#32) invested $3 billion in a “New World. New Skills” commitment to equip employees with digital training and awarded a “thank you” bonus of one-week extra pay. Bank of America (#8) provided an additional $1 billion in compensation stock awards to employees globally, and Northrop Grumman (#38) enhanced their annual bonus plan in addition to their ongoing stay interviews.
Mental health care is going mainstream across hiring and talent management. To keep employees healthy and happy at work, almost all of this year’s honorees now provide services that address mental health and well-being. Companies like Intel (#23), Salesforce (#28), and Juniper Networks (#46) provide dedicated mental health days, with many – including FedEx (#47) and Blackstone (#43) – offering company-paid mental health benefits. In addition, EY (#22) has expanded its no-cost counseling and mental health coaching sessions to 25 per year for employees and family. Deloitte (#11) provides a $1,000 well-being subsidy in addition to individualized psychological health resources. Unitedhealth Group (#13) provides complimentary access to wellness apps offering coaching, talk therapy, and more.
Authenticity, compassion, and curiosity are must-have skills. Most of the Top Companies do not require college degrees and instead look for soft skills that can translate across departments and roles. For example, the #1 skill Comcast (#10) seeks in new hires is authenticity, HCA Healthcare (#37) wants new hires to possess compassion, and Dell Technologies (#14) looks for people who thrive in an environment with a diversity of people and ideas. Accenture (#17), Oracle (#27), and Lockheed Martin (#29) value candidates with curiosity and eagerness to learn and grow. Alphabet (#2) looks for problem-solving skills and a growth mindset.
Bottom Line: Professional services (PS) organizations need to close the gaps in their CPQ selling strategies to win more deals, capture more revenue and protect margins from ongoing price pressure.
Why Services CPQ Is Too Slow Today
When PS organizations compete in sales cycles, the first competitor to have a complete quote with accurate pricing, schedules, and an engagement plan will often win. However, getting a complete quote out fast is a major challenge for most PS organizations today. Many PS organizations manually create their quotes by taking into account a broad base of factors that include the following: talent profiles of employees and the market value of their skills; utilization rates; direct and indirect engagement costs; typical gross margins by type of engagement; and, competitive pricing. The average PS organization takes six weeks to deliver a quote or proposal. John Ragsdale’s excellent recent article Automating Services Quote-to-Cash: Emergence of CPQ for Services provides useful insights into what needs to change for PS quoting and selling to increase its velocity.
Getting Services CPQ Right Is Hard
Gaps that drain revenue and margin grow wider when PS organizations attempt to use product-centric CPQ platforms to sell services. Too often, PS organizations attempt to wedge their quoting, pricing, and revenue management into a product-based CPQ system – and get mediocre results at best. Earlier in my career, I led a product management team that defined, created, and launched a quoting system for professional services inside a large IT organization. The most valuable lessons learned from that experience include the following:
PS bundles only work if they have simple, solid direct cost structures. Adding a synthetic SKU that represents a PS bundle only works for the most simple, automated PS engagements. Think of those PS engagements with long-standing direct cost structures that are simple, clear and easy to implement. Attempting to group PS bundles can easily lead to quoting mistakes that drain margin when a product-centric CPQ system is used for PS.
The greater the differences in PS revenue management, the more the need for a new CPQ platform. Many PS organizations are making a mistake by attempting to make product-centric CPQ platforms work for their unique costing, pricing, and selling needs. My team and I learned that the more a PS revenue model is unique and one-of-a-kind, the more it requires a unique CPQ platform.
Getting product-based CPQ rules and constraint logic right is hard in PS. Our teams’ biggest challenge in recycling IT’s CPQ app for PS was how difficult it was to get the rules-based engine to work for the wide variety of variables in a common service engagement. Rules created for transaction velocity needed to be reworked for greater variety. PS engagements didn’t follow a common logic structure like a product, making the constraint logic code only somewhat usable.
Only launch after CRM and Revenue Management integration is complete. Our team was handed a project that had languished in IT for nearly a year because PS selling teams wouldn’t use it. The problem was that the quoting module ran batch updates to a series of databases to get customer records and fetch the latest price tables off of a mainframe. In addition, CPQ wasn’t connected in real-time to CRM or Revenue Management.
Closing Long-Standing Services CPQ Gaps
The more a Services CPQ app can close the gaps between CRM, PSA, Revenue Management, and CPQ apps and their workflows, the more effective it will be stopping margin and revenue leakage. Having APIs that share data in real-time between CRM, PSA, and Revenue Management within each quote creation session has the potential to save thousands of hours a year. FinancialForce’s recently announced Services CPQ shows how a platform-based integration strategy works. The following graphic shows how revenue potential increases as a Services CPQ’s systems become more integrated.
FinancialForce’s approach to taking on the challenge of providing an enterprise-grade Services CPQ is noteworthy for several reasons, including the following:
Real-time visibility and control of Services CPQ Effectiveness. Having Services CPQ, PSA and Revenue Management on the same Salesforce platform provides the visibility and control PS sales managers need to track quoting effectiveness by program, geography, customer segment, and rep. The more real-time the data integration across these systems the greater the potential for revenue growth in existing accounts and winning new ones.
Changing professional services quotes in real-time without impacting sales cycles is possible. Due to the integrated design of Services CPQ, one change made anywhere on a quote will replicate through the entire system and change all related factors immediately.
Getting in control of professional services engagement dates and utilization rates by associates helps reduce time-to-market and assures better time-to-customer performance. Keeping track of the myriad of factors that influence a services quote using a manually-based process is too slow for how quickly engagements are decided. Instead, having a single, unified data model that can track effectiveness and provide updates on how they impact engagement project plans is needed to excel at selling with Services CPQ. Adopting an agile CPQ strategy that relies on an integration thread to unify all systems is the secret to scaling and selling more with an agile approach to services CPQ.
Pricing needs to be one of the core strengths in an integrated Services CPQ platform. Realizing how a customers’ requested changes to a professional services engagement will impact costs and margins gives PS teams with an integrated system a formidable pricing advantage. FinancialForce’s approach to solving the Services CPQ challenge shows the potential to take on this challenge and provide its PS customers with the insights they need to upsell engagements – and not lose margin doing it.
A must-have for any Services CPQ platform is support for channel partner collaboration and team quoting. For any Services CPQ to scale up and deliver its full potential value, there needs to be support for customizing partner selling experiences while providing for team selling and quoting. FinancialForce solves this by relying on the Salesforce platform. By closing the gaps between the systems Services CPQ relies on, the channel selling teams and partners gain greater flexibility in defining customized products.
Services CPQ needs to scale out on a platform to achieve its full potential by providing the analytical insights to track engagement lifecycles and customer lifetime value by engagement. FinancialForce has proven they can do this in their Spring 2021 release. Taking on the most challenging aspects of a Services CPQ architecture starts by providing insights and guidance on how best to optimize the mix of associates and their utilization and billing rates, locations of each engagement, margin threshold levels, and the expected duration of each engagement. Additionally, the world’s leading professional services organizations could use an automated Services CPQ solution as many of them don’t rely on enough data, letting revenue leakage happen without knowing it.
Salesforce Q1, FY22 revenue was $5.96B, the best quarter in the company’s history.
$1M+ deals hit an all-time high and were up 120% year-over-year. New $1M+ sales are averaging four or more Clouds, with senior management calling out Service Cloud during the earnings call as gaining strong traction in enterprises. Eight of the top 10 deals included Tableau, and five included MuleSoft.
FY22 Revenue guidance raised from $25.9B to $26B, approximately 22% year-over-year growth.
Service Cloud Q1, FY22 revenue is $1.5B, growing 20% year-over-year.
Tableau sales grew 38% year-over-year, reaching $394M in sales. MuleSoft grew 49% year-over-year, reaching $380M in sales in Q1, FY22.
The Slack acquisition is expected to close at the end of Q2, FY22.
Key takeaways from their Q1, FY22 results include the following:
Q1, FY22 revenue is up 23% year-over-year to $5.96B. Operating margins reached 5.9%, with non-GAAP operating margins reaching 20.2% in Q1. Salesforce successfully capitalizes on its customers’ urgency to transform their businesses while providing them with proven, well-integrated apps and platform strategies to help them build new digital businesses. Salesforce is also well-positioned to increase revenue based on the growing interest in analytics apps, combined with strong demand for mobile and social apps and multi-cloud integration. Combining proven apps and platforms with their ongoing R&D work in machine learning, AI, and predictive intelligence shows Salesforce is well-positioned for long-term growth in an increasingly multi-cloud enterprise world.
Successful multi-cloud sales strategies are propelling double-digit growth in the platform side of the business. Five of the ten $1M+ deals Salesforce signed in Q1 included MuleSoft. The Platform business is the fastest-growing segment of Salesforce today, attaining 28% year-over-year growth. Marketing and Commerce are next at 25% year-over-year revenue growth, driven by many Salesforce customers digitally transforming their selling and service strategies online. The latest quarters’ financial results by product area show how well-integrated and revenue-generating the ExactTarget, MuleSoft, and Tableau are turning out to be today.
Salesforce will reach $50B in revenue by 2026, supported by their Total Available Market (TAM), reaching $204B by CY2025. During the Q1, FY22 earnings call, Marc Benioff predicted Salesforce would nearly double in size in four years, reaching $50B from $26B, which is the projected FY22 revenue target. During the earnings call, Marc Benioff also said, “but I’ll tell you that it’s awesome to see not just be number one in CRM, but we’re going to be the number one enterprise software applications company in the world passing SAP.” The seven core product areas Salesforce compete are combining to create a TAM growing at an 11% CAGR between 2021 and 2025.
There are a record number of 9,977 machine learning startups and companies in Crunchbase today, an 8.2% increase over the 9,216 startups listed in 2020 and a 14.6% increase over the 8,705 listed in 2019.
Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and machine learning (ML)-related companies received a record $27.6 billion in funding in 2020, according to Crunchbase.
Of those A.I. and machine learning startups receiving funding since January 1, 2020, 62% are seed rounds, 31% early-stage venture rounds and 6.7% late-stage venture capital-funded rounds.
A.I. and machine learning startups’ median funding round was $4.4 million and the average was $29.8 million in 2020, according to Crunchbase.
Throughout 2020, venture capital firms continued expanding into new global markets, with London, New York, Tel Aviv, Toronto, Boston, Seattle and Singapore startups receiving increased funding. Out of the 79 most popular A.I. & ML startup locations, 15 are in the San Francisco Bay Area, making that region home to 19% of startups who received funding in the last year. Israel’s Tel Aviv region has 37 startups who received venture funding over the last year, including those launched in Herzliya, a region of the city known for its robust startup and entrepreneurial culture.
The following graphic compares the top 10 most popular locations for A.I. & ML startups globally based on Crunchbase data as of today:
Top 20 Machine Learning Startups To Watch In 2021
Augury – Augury combines real-time monitoring data from production machinery with AI and machine learning algorithms to determine machine health, asset performance management (APM) and predictive maintenance (PdM) to provide manufacturing companies with new insights into their operations. The digital machine health technology that the company offers can listen to the machine, analyze the data and catch any malfunctions before they arise. This enables customers to adjust their maintenance and manufacturing processes based on actual machine conditions. The platform is in use with HVAC, industrial factories and commercial facilities.
Alation – Alation is credited with pioneering the data catalog market and is well-respected in the financial services community for its use of A.I. to interpret and present data for analysis. Alation has also set a quick pace to evolving its platform to include data search & discovery, data governance, data stewardship, analytics and digital transformation. With its Behavioral Analysis Engine, inbuilt collaboration capabilities and open interfaces, Alation combines machine learning with human insight to successfully tackle data and metadata management challenges. More than 200 enterprises are using Alation’s platform today, including AbbVie, American Family Insurance, Cisco, Exelon, Finnair, Munich Re, New Balance, Pfizer, Scandinavian Airlines and U.S. Foods. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, Alation is backed by leading venture capitalists including Costanoa, Data Collective, Icon, Sapphire and Salesforce Ventures.
Algorithmia – Algorithmia’s expertise is in machine learning operations (MLOps) and helping customers deliver ML models to production with enterprise-grade security and governance. Algorithmia automates ML deployment, provides tooling flexibility, enables collaboration between operations and development and leverages existing SDLC and CI/CD practices. Over 110,000 engineers and data scientists have used Algorithmia’s platform to date, including the United Nations, government intelligence agencies and Fortune 500 companies.
Avora – Avora is noteworthy for its augmented analytics platform, making in-depth data analysis intuitively as easy as performing web searches. The company’s unique technology hides complexity, empowering non-technical users to run and share their reports easily. By eliminating the limitations of existing analytics, reducing data preparation and discovery time by 50-80% and accelerating time to insight, Avora uses ML to streamline business decision-making. Headquartered in London with offices in New York and Romania, Avora helps accelerate decision making and productivity for customers across various industries and markets, including Retail, Financial Services, Advertising, Supply Chain and Media and Entertainment.
Boast.ai – Focused on helping companies in the U.S. and Canada recover their R&D costs from respective federal governments, Boast.ai enables engineers and accountants to gain tax credits using AI-based tools. Some of the tax programs Boast.ai works with include US R&D Tax Credits, Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) and Interactive Digital Media Tax Credits (IDMTC). The startup has offices in San Francisco, Vancouver and Calgary.
ClosedLoop.ai – An Austin, Texas-based startup, ClosedLoop.ai has created one of the healthcare industry’s first data science platforms that streamline patient experiences while improving healthcare providers’ profitability. Their machine learning automation platform and a catalog of pre-built predictive and prescriptive models can be customized and extended based on a healthcare provider’s unique population or client base needs. Examples of their technology applications include predicting admissions/readmissions, predicting total utilization & total risk, reducing out-of-network utilization, avoiding appointment no-shows, predicting chronic disease onset or progression and improving clinical documentation and reimbursement. The Harvard Business School, through its Kraft Precision Medicine Accelerator, recently named ClosedLoop.ai as one of the fastest accelerating companies in its Real World Data Analytics Landscapes report.
Databand – A Tel Aviv-based startup that provides a software platform for agile machine learning development, Databand was founded in 2018 by Evgeny Shulman, Joshua Benamram and Victor Shafran. Data engineering teams are responsible for managing a wide suite of powerful tools but lack the utilities they need to ensure their ops are running properly. Databand fills this gap with a solution that enables teams to gain a global view of their data flows, make sure pipelines complete successfully and monitor resource consumption and costs. Databand fits natively in the modern data stack, plugging seamlessly into tools like Apache Airflow, Spark, Kubernetes and various ML offerings from the major cloud providers.
DataVisor – DataVisor’s approach to using AI for increasing fraud detection accuracy on a platform level is noteworthy. Using proprietary unsupervised machine learning algorithms, DataVisor enables organizations to detect and act on fast-evolving fraud patterns and prevent future attacks before they happen. Combining advanced analytics and an intelligence network of more than 4.2B global user accounts, DataVisor protects against financial and reputational damage across various industries, including financial services, marketplaces, e-commerce and social platforms. They’re one of the more fascinating cybersecurity startups using AI today.
Exceed.ai – What makes Exceed.ai noteworthy is how their AI-powered sales assistant platform automatically communicates the lead’s context and enables sales and marketing teams to scale their lead engagement and qualification efforts accordingly. Exceed.ai follows up with every lead and qualifies them quickly through two-way, automated conversations with prospects using natural language over chat and email. Sales reps are freed from performing error-prone and repetitive tasks, allowing them to focus on revenue-generating activities such as phone calls and demos with potential customers.
Indico – Indico is a Boston-based startup specializing in solving the formidable challenge of how dependent businesses are on unstructured content yet lack the frameworks, systems and tools to manage it effectively. Indico provides an enterprise-ready A.I. platform that organizes unstructured content while streamlining and automating back-office tasks. Indico is noteworthy given its track record of helping organizations automate manual, labor-intensive, document-based workflows. Its breakthrough in solving these challenges is an approach known as transfer learning, which allows users to train machine learning models with orders of magnitude fewer data than required by traditional rule-based techniques. Indico enables enterprises to deploy A.I. to unstructured content challenges more effectively while eliminating many common barriers to A.I. & ML adoption.
LeadGenius – LeadGenius is noteworthy for its use of AI to provide personalized and actionable B2B lead information that helps its clients attain their global revenue growth goals. LeadGenius’s worldwide team of researchers uses proprietary technologies, including AI and ML-based techniques, to deliver customized lead generation, lead enrichment and data hygiene services in the format, methods and frequency defined by the customer. Their mission is to enable B2B sales and marketing organizations to connect with their prospects via unique and personalized data sets.
Netra – Netra is a Boston-based startup that began as part of MIT CSAIL research and has multiple issued and pending patents on its technology today. Netra is noteworthy for how advanced its video imagery scanning and text metadata interpretation are, ensuring safety and contextual awareness. Netra’s patented A.I. technology analyzes videos in real-time for contextual references to unsafe content, including deepfakes and potential cybersecurity threats.
Particle – Particle is an end-to-end IoT platform that combines software including A.I., hardware and connectivity to provide a wide range of organizations, from startups to enterprises, with the framework they need to launch IoT systems and networks successfully. Particle customers include Jacuzzi, Continental Tires, Watsco, Shifted Energy, Anderson EV, Opti and others. Particle is venture-backed and has offices in San Francisco, Shenzhen, Las Vegas, Minneapolis and Boston. Particle’s developer community includes over 200,000 developers and engineers in more than 170 countries today.
RideVision – RideVision was founded in 2018 by motorcycle enthusiasts Uri Lavi and Lior Cohen. The company is revolutionizing the motorcycle-safety industry by harnessing the strength of artificial intelligence and image-recognition technology, ultimately providing riders with a much broader awareness of their surroundings, preventing collisions and enabling bikers to ride with full confidence that they are safe. RideVision’s latest round was $7 million in November of last year, bringing their total funding to $10 million in addition to a partnership with Continental AG.
Savvie – Savvie is an Oslo-based startup specializing in translating large volumes of data into concrete actions that bakery and café owners can utilize to improve their bottom line every day. In doing so, we help food businesses make the right decisions to optimize their operations and increase profitability while reducing waste at its source. What’s noteworthy about this startup is how adept they are at fine-tuning ML algorithms to provide their clients with customized recommendations and real-time insights about their food and catering businesses. Their ML-driven insights are especially valuable given how bakery and café owners are pivoting their business models in response to the pandemic.
SECURITI.ai – One of the most innovative startups in cybersecurity, combining AI and ML to secure sensitive data in multi-cloud and mixed platform environments, SECURITI.ai is a machine learning company to watch in 2021, especially if you are interested in cybersecurity. Their AI-powered platform and systems enable organizations to discover potential breach risk areas across multi-cloud, SaaS and on-premise environments, protect it and automate all private systems, networks and infrastructure functions.
SkyHive – SkyHive is an artificial intelligence-based SaaS platform that aims to reskill enterprise workforces and communities. It develops and commercializes a methodology, Quantum Labor Analysis, to deliver real-time, skill-level insights into internal workforces and external labor markets, identify future and emerging skills and facilitate individual-and company-level reskilling. SkyHive is industry-agnostic and supporting enterprise and government customers globally with a mission to reduce unemployment and underemployment. Sean Hinton founded the technology company in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2017.
Stravito – Stravito is an A.I. startup that’s combining machine learning, Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Search to help organizations find and get more value out of the many market research reports, competitive, industry, market share, financial analysis and market projection analyses they have by making them searchable. Thor Olof Philogène and Sarah Lee founded the company in 2017, who identified an opportunity to help companies be more productive, getting greater value from their market research investments. Thor Olof Philogène and Andreas Lee were co-founders of NORM, a research agency where both worked for 15 years serving multinational brands, eventually selling the company to IPSOS. While at NORM, Anders and Andreas were receiving repeated calls from global clients that had bought research from them but could not find it internally and ended up calling them asking for a copy. Today the startup has Carlsberg, Comcast, Colruyt Group, Danone, Electrolux, Pepsi Lipton and others. Stravito has offices in Stockholm (H.Q.), Malmö and Amsterdam.
Verta.ai – Verta is a startup dedicated to solving the complex problems of managing machine learning model versions and providing a platform to launch models into production. Founded by Dr. Manasi Vartak, Ph.D., a graduate of MIT, who led a team of graduate and undergraduate students at MIT CSAIL to build ModelDB, Verta is based on their work define the first open-source system for managing machine learning models. Her dissertation, Infrastructure for model management and model diagnosis, proposes ModelDB, a system to track ML-based workflows’ provenance and performance. In August of this year, Verta received a $10 million Series A round led by Intel Capital and General Catalyst, who also led its $1.7 million seed round. For additional details on Verta.ai, please see How Startup Verta Helps Enterprises Get Machine Learning Right. The Verta MLOps platform launch webinar provides a comprehensive overview of the platform and how it’s been designed to streamline machine learning models into production:
V7 – V7 allows vision-based A.I. systems to learn continuously from training data with minimal human supervision. The London-based startup emerged out of stealth in August 2018 to reveal V7 Darwin, an image labeling platform to create training data for computer vision projects with little or no human involvement necessary. V7 specializes in healthcare, life sciences, manufacturing, autonomous driving, agri-tech, sporting clients like Merck, GE Healthcare and Toyota. V7 Darwin launched at CVPR 2019 in Long Beach, CA. Within its first year, it has semi-automatically annotated over 1,000 image and video segmentation datasets. V7 Neurons is a series of pre-trained image recognition applications for industry use. The following video explains how V7 Darwin works:
30% of US and UK remote workers say their organizations don’t require them to use a secure access tool, including VPN, to log into corporate databases and systems, according to Ivanti’s 2021 Secure Consumer Cyber Report.
Plus, 25% of remote workers in the US and UK aren’t required to have specific security software running on their devices to access certain applications while working remotely.
And one in four US remote workers use their work email and passwords to log in to consumer websites and apps.
Cybersecurity gaps have continued to widen during the pandemic. A noteworthy survey by Ivanti illustrates exactly how remote workers are putting organizations at risk and where enterprise security is falling short, making those cybersecurity gaps challenging for CISOs to close. Ivanti’s 2021 Secure Consumer Cyber Report outlines the challenges that cybersecurity and IT teams have faced when securing remote workers in what’s being described as the “Everywhere Workplace.” Based on interviews with more than 2,000 US and UK respondents working from home in November 2020, the survey shows that authentication and endpoint security needs to improve across all devices that employees use.
IT Organizations Need Help Closing Their Cybersecurity Gaps
Of the many lessons learned from 2020, among the most valuable are how virtual workforces need self-diagnosing and self-remediating endpoints, while IT organizations need improved unified endpoint management (UEM) as part of a zero-trust strategy. Bad actors continue to target remote workers’ privileged access credentials to gain access and exfiltrate customer, financial and proprietary data, including intellectual property. Ivanti’s survey provides insights into where cybersecurity gaps need attention first:
The most challenging threat surface to protect is a person’s identity because it’s exposed across so many threat surfaces, including personal and work devices, consumer websites, and IoT devices in homes. The pandemic is proving identities are the new security perimeter. A person’s cell phone, personal tablet, and laptop is a real-time digital definition of a person’s identity. Nearly half (49%) of US remote workers use personal devices for their jobs, often without two-factor authentication enabled. The graphic below shows how organizations can close this cybersecurity gap by adopting UEM as part of their go-forward initiatives in 2021 and beyond:
Lack of consistent security software and password standards is a big contributor to US and UK organizations’ cybersecurity gaps today. One in four remote workers can access enterprise resources without any security software in place. An even more surprising finding is that 30% of remote workers in the US and UK can access corporate data without a secure access tool or VPN connection. If a remote worker’s identity is compromised, there’s a one in three chance that their organization will be breached, enabling cyberattackers to move laterally through the company’s systems:
Protecting remote workers’ identities & devices at scale requires Zero Trust. Automating as many tasks as possible while providing a continuous and seamless user experience is the surest way to close cybersecurity gaps. Getting rid of passwords and automating two-factor authentication using Zero Sign-On (ZSO), a core part of the Ivanti platform, is proving essential today. Zero Sign-On relies on proven biometrics, including Apple’s Face ID, as a secondary authentication factor to gain access to work email, unified communications and collaboration tools, and corporate-shared databases and resources. CISOs and their teams also need to consider how mobile threat defense can better secure personal devices against phishing, device, network, and malicious app threats. Late last year, MobileIron (now part of Ivanti) received its second mention in two years in the Forrester Wave™: Zero Trust eXtended Ecosystem Platform Providers, Q3 2020. The Forrester Wave graphic is shown below:
In conclusion, enterprise cybersecurity gaps are widening due to a combination of risky consumer behavior and a lack of consistent security for mobile workforces. And these gaps will only increase as employees increasingly work from anywhere, using their personal devices to connect to corporate resources. To secure and enable the future of work, organizations need to start implementing and maturing an end-to-end zero trust security model today by leveraging new technologies and protecting their current security technology investments.
Bottom Line: CHROs and the HR teams they lead need to commit to keep learning and adopting digital technologies that help improve how they hire, engage and retain talent if they’re going to stay competitive.
Driven by the urgency to keep connected with employees, customers and suppliers, McKinsey’s recent Covid-19 survey finds global organizations are now seven years ahead of schedule on digital transformation initiatives. HR’s role is proving indispensable in enabling the fast pace of digital adoption today. By providing Business Continuity Planning (BCP), HR’s contributions to digital transformation separate the organizations that thrive despite crises versus those left behind, according to McLean & Company’s 2021 HR Trends Report. The graphic below from the report shows how effective HR has been in supporting the rapid changes needed to keep employees communicating and engaged.
The McLean and Company Trends Report also shows that talent management’s major gaps need attention now before they grow wider. These areas include analyzing the employee skills gap (24%), developing employees on new competencies (24%), and training new employees in specific new skills (21%). Improving talent acquisition, retention, diversity and inclusion, and employee experiences by digitally transforming them with greater personalization at scale and visibility is key. CHROs and the HR teams they lead need to close these gaps now.
How To Get Started Digitally Transforming Talent Management
Start with the gaps in talent management you see in your organization. The largest gaps are often in the following four areas: recruiting and talent acquisition; retention of top talent and diverse talent; lack of visibility into employee capabilities; and workforce strategies not aligned to business strategies. Key challenges that need to drive digital transformation in these four areas include the following:
Legacy recruiting and Applicant Tracking Systems prioritize HR’s needs to capture thousands of resumes instead of delivering an excellent candidate experience. Attracting and recruiting the most qualified candidates in a virtual-first world is a daunting task. Organizations who are leaders in digital transformation quickly realized this and relied on automating the applicant experience so much it began to resemble the Amazon 1-Click Ordering experience. McKinsey’s recent Covid survey found that 75% of organizations digitally transforming their operations, including HR, were able to fill tech talent gaps during the crisis:
Source: McKinsey & Company, 2020, How Covid-19 has pushed companies over the technology tipping point—and transformed business forever
Top talent retention is more of a problem than many organizations realize, with top performers receiving between five and ten recruiter calls a month or more. The average tenure of employees at companies has been decreasing for nearly two decades. And a primary driver is not for lack of opportunity, but because employees can’t find a career path internally as easily as they can find a growth opportunity at another company. It’s possible to retain the top talent by guiding employees to what’s next in their careers. Of the many approaches to providing employees a self-service option for personalized coaching guidance at scale, Eightfold’s Talent Intelligence Platform is delivering results at such notable companies as Air Asia, Micron, NetApp, and others. Eightfold found that 47% of top talent leave within two years, but most would happily stay if given the right opportunity. The following video explains how Eightfold helps its customers retain talent:
Employees often lack visibility into new internal opportunities, and both HR and business leaders lack visibility into employees’ unique capabilities. There’s often a 360-degree lack of visibility into new internal career positions from the employee’s side and a lack of awareness on the employer’s side of their employee’s innate capabilities. The lack of visibility from the employer side limits their ability to benchmark talent, create programmatic, scalable, and flexible career development opportunities and ultimately redeploy talent in an agile way that serves business strategies that are evolving rapidly in response to the impacts of the global pandemic.
Workforce strategies that don’t align and support business strategies waste opportunities to improve morale, productivity, and employees’ professional growth. While organizations have invested heavily in valuable infrastructure, including Learning Management Systems (LMS) and other employee experience and development tools, they often lack a unified platform to help deliver the right growth opportunities to the right person at the right time.
Achieving Greater Automation, Visibility And Personalization At Scale
Talent management is core to any digital business and the competitive outcomes each can produce today and in the future. To make greater contributions, Talent Management needs to deliver the following by relying on a unified platform:
Talent Management platforms need to combine ongoing business insights based on operations data, technology management data, and business transformation apps and tools to create new digitally-driven employee experiences quickly.
A key design goal of any Talent Management platform has to be delivering personalized candidate or prospect experiences at scale through every communications channel an organization relies on, both digital and human.
The best Talent Management platforms provide the apps, data, and contextual intelligence to drive task and mission ownership deep into an organization and reinforce accountability. What’s noteworthy about Eightfold’s Talent Intelligence Platform is that it has designed-in empathy and the ability to deliver quick, effective decisions that further reinforce team inclusion. Eightfold’s many customer wins in Talent Management illustrate how combining empathy, inclusion, and accountability in a platform’s design pays off.
As McLean & Company’s 2021 HR Trends Report shows, taking a band-aid approach to solving Talent Management’s many challenges is effective in the short-term. Turning Talent Management into a solid contributor to business strategies for the long-term needs to start at the platform level, however. Eightfold’s approach to combining their Talent Management, Talent Insights and Talent Acquisition modules, all supported by their Talent Intelligence Platform, enables their customers to define their digital transformation goals and strategies and get results.
The Talent Management goal many organizations aspire to today is to digitally transform candidate or prospect experiences so well that people have an immediate affinity for the company they apply to, and the self-service options are so intuitive they rival Amazon’s 1-Click Ordering Experience. Across any industry, digital transformation succeeds when customers’ expectations are exceeded so far that a new category gets created. Uber’s contextual intelligence, rating system, and ability to optimize ride requests is an example. UberEats provides the same real-time visibility into every step of each order, creating greater trust. Domino’s Pizza Tracker app keeps customers informed of every phase of their orders. What’s common across all these examples is personalization at scale, real-time automation across service providers, and real-time visibility. Those same core values need to be at the center of any Talent Management digital transformation effort today.
Bottom Line: LogicMonitor knows first-hand how much pressure DevOps teams are under to produce high-quality code in record time during the pandemic. Acquiring Airbrake proves they get it: DevOps has a high need for speed right now.
LogicMonitor Aims To Solve Today’s DevOps Paradox
The pandemic is forcing every business to make DevOps a core part of their DNA faster than any of them expected. The competitive strengths many banked on in a pre-pandemic world aren’t as relevant as having a steady pipeline of new apps, platforms, and digital channels are. It’s creating a paradox for DevOps: on the one hand, they’re expected to deliver perfect code, and on the other, it needs to be delivered in record time. Pre-pandemic, a typical DevOps team in a $500M+ enterprise has over 200 concurrent projects in progress, with over 70% dedicated to safeguarding and improving customer experiences according to IDC. Today, there are up to 2X more projects, and up to 80% are focused on cybersecurity.
No organization is perfect at DevOps today. Everyone is at various stages of maturity and growth. The pandemic puts a lot of pressure on DevOps teams to get their code right quickly and into a released app in record time. LogicMonitor must see it in their customer base every day. The trade-offs DevOps teams have to make for speed versus quality – and even security – when pushing out a release are real and often tend to overlook diagnostics. That’s why the Airbrake acquisition makes so much sense today. LogicMonitor bought Airbrake to help DevOps teams do what they do best.
The often-quoted Boston Consulting Group (BCG) article, Going All In With DevOps, illustrates the typical pressure DevOps is under to perform, including catching bugs early, solving them, and getting code into test and deployment. According to Airbrake, 73% of their DevOps customers are pushing code multiple times per week – and many said they were deploying code “multiple times per day.” What makes Airbrake a perfect fit for LogicMonitor is how their developer-centric application error and performance monitoring service provides detailed diagnostics beyond the first layer of a bug or problem. In the context of the BCG graphic below, LogicMonitor buying Airbrake gives DevOps teams the diagnostics they need to move faster through error detection and into the test, deploy and release phases.
36% of DevOps team members are struggling to keep up with increased dev speeds and demands, according to Checkmarx’s survey.
55% of DevOps team members have taken on more security responsibility during the pandemic, according to Checkmark’s survey.
DevOps teams are struggling to keep up with their workloads today. LogicMonitor believes that by automating more monitoring processes and providing deeper contextual data and insight, DevOps teams can improve their response times and quality.
Automation pays off with more efficient continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD) cycles across DevOps teams, speeding up time-to-market and improving software quality in the process. Buying Airbrake extends LogicMonitor into developer environments and enables their shared customers to gain visibility into CI/CD workflows while reducing risk and ensuring every code release meets customer expectations. The following graphic illustrates how the CI/CD pipelines support DevOps. The more efficient continuous integration, testing, delivery, and operations, the more code releases DevOps can deliver at a higher quality, on time, and to customers’ expectations.
Source: Deloitte, DevOps Point of View, An Enterprise Architecture perspective, Amsterdam, 2020
The best aspect of LogicMonitor acquiring Airbrake is how practical, pragmatic, and immediately useful their vision of providing unified observability is in supporting DevOps teams under pressure to perform today. Airbrake is LogicMonitor’s second acquisition in just over a year, having also acquired Stockholm-based log analytics company Unomaly in January 2020. LogicMonitor’s Airbrake page provides additional information.
Bottom Line: Using AI to measure and predict revenue, costs, and margin across all Professional Services (PS) channels leads to greater accuracy in predicting payment risks, project overruns, and service forecasts, reducing revenue leakage in the process.
Professional Services’ Revenue Challenges Are Complex
Turning time into revenue and profits is one of the greatest challenges of running a Professional Services (PS) business. What makes it such a challenge is incomplete time tracking data and how quickly revenue leaks spring up, drain margins, and continue unnoticed for months. Examples of revenue leaks across a customers’ life cycles include the following:
Billing errors are caused by the booking and contract process not being in sync with each other leading to valuable time being wasted.
When products are bundled with services, there’s often confusion over recognizing each revenue source, when, and by which PS metric.
Inconsistent, inaccurate project cost estimates and actual activity lead to inaccurate forecasting, delaying the project close and the potential for bad debt write-offs and high Days Sales Outstanding (DSO).
Revenue leakage gains momentum and drains margins when the following happens:
Un-forecasted delays and timescale creep
Reduced utilization rates across each key resource required for the project to be completed
Invoice and billing errors that result in invoice disputes that turn into high DSOs & write-offs
Incorrect pricing versus the costs of sales & service often leads to customer churn.
Revenue leakage gains momentum as each of these factors further drains margin
Adding up all these examples and many more can easily add up to 20-30% of actual lost solution and services margin. In many ways, it’s like death by a thousand small cuts. The following graphic provides examples across the customer lifecycle:
Why Professional Services Are Especially Vulnerable To Revenue Leakage
Selling projects and the promise of their outcomes in the future create a unique series of challenges for PS organizations when it comes to controlling revenue leakage. It often starts with inaccurately scoping a project too aggressively to win the deal, only to determine the complexity of tasks originally budgeted for will take 10 – 30% longer or more. Disconnects on project scope are unfortunately too common, turning small revenue leaks into major ones and the potential of long Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) on invoices. When revenue leaks get ingrained in a project’s structure, they continue to cascade into each subsequent phase, growing and costing more than expected.
The SPI 2021 Professional Services Maturity™ Benchmark Service published by Services Performance Insight, LLC in February of this year provides insights into the hidden costs and prevalence of revenue leakage. The following table illustrates how organizations with high levels of revenue leakage also perform badly against other key metrics, including client referencability. The more revenue leakage an organization experiences, the more billable utilization drops, on-time project deliveries become worse, and executive real-time visibility becomes poorer.
How FinancialForce Is Using AI To Fight Revenue Leakage
It’s noteworthy that FinancialForce is now on its 12th consecutive product release that includes Salesforce Einstein, and many customers, including Five9, are using AI to manage revenue leakage across their PS business. Throughout the pandemic, the FinancialForce DevOps, product management, and software quality teams have been a machine, creating rich new releases on schedule and with improved AI functionality based on Einstein. The 12th release includes prebuilt data models, lenses, dashboards, and reports.
Andy Campbell, Solution Evangelist at FinancialForce, says that “FinancialForce customers have access to best practices to minimize revenue leakage by scoping and selling the right product and services mix to allocating the optimal range and amount of services personnel and finally billing, collecting and recognizing the right amount of revenue for services provided.” Andy continued, saying that recent dashboards have been built for resource managers to automate demand and capacity planning and service revenue forecasting and assist financial analysts in managing deferred revenue and revenue leakage.
By successfully integrating Einstein into their ERP system for PS organizations, FinancialForce helps clients find new ways to reduce revenue leakage and preserve margin. Relying on AI-based insights for each phase of a PS engagement delivered a 20% increase in Customer Lifetime Value according to a FinancialForce customer. And by combining FinancialForce and Salesforce, customers see an increased bid:win ratio of 10% or more. The following graphic illustrates how combining the capabilities of Einstein’s AI platform with FinancialForce delivers results.
FinancialForce’s model building in Einstein is based on ten years of structured and unstructured data, aggregated and anonymized, then used for in-tuning AI models. FinancialForce says these models are used as starting points or templates for AI-based products and workflows, including predict to pay. Salesforce has also done the same for its Sales Cloud Analytics and Service Cloud Analytics. In both cases, Salesforce and FinancialForce customers benefit from best practices and recommendations based on decades of data, which should be particularly interesting considering the “black swan” nature of 2020 data for most of their customers.
Cybersecurity professionals with cloud security skills can gain a $15,025 salary premium by capitalizing on strong market demand for their skills in 2021.
DevOps and Application Development Security professionals can expect to earn a $12,266 salary premium based on their unique, in-demand skills.
413,687 job postings for Health Information Security professionals were posted between October 2019 to September 2020, leading all skill areas in demand.
Cybersecurity’s fastest-growing skill areas reflect the high priority organizations place on building secure digital infrastructures that can scale. Application Development Security and Cloud Security are far and away from the fastest-growing skill areas in cybersecurity, with projected 5-year growth of 164% and 115%, respectively. This underscores the shift from retroactive security strategies to proactive security strategies. According to The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Information Security Analyst’s Outlook, cybersecurity jobs are among the fastest-growing career areas nationally. The BLS predicts cybersecurity jobs will grow 31% through 2029, over seven times faster than the national average job growth of 4%.
Key takeaways from their analysis include the following:
Cloud Security skills are the most lucrative of all, predicted to deliver a $15,008 salary boost in 2021. Demand for specific Cloud Security skills is far outpacing the broader demand for cybersecurity skills in the labor market. Burning Glass predicts the fastest-growing skills over the next five years include Azure Security (+164%), Cloud Security Infrastructure (+144%), Google Cloud Security (+135%), Public Cloud Security (+121%), Cloud Security Architecture (+103%). There are 19,477 positions available for cybersecurity professionals with Cloud Security skills.
The fastest-growing cybersecurity skill is Application Development Security, predicted to see a 164% increase in available positions over five years. Cybersecurity professionals with Application Development Security, DevSecOps, Container Security, Microservices Security, Application Security Code Review are predicted to see an average $12,266 salary boost starting next year given the strong marketability of their skills. Like Cloud Security, market demand for Application Development Security professionals’ skillsets far outpaces average cybersecirty jobs growth over five years.
Knowing where the most cybersecurity job postings are by metro area and state provides job seekers with the insights they need to narrow their job search. Cyberseek partnered with Burning Glass to create an interactive U.S.-based heat map that shows cybersecurity positions by state or metro area. The heat map can be configured to show total job openings, supply of workers, supply/demand ratio,and location quotients. You can access the heat map here.