April, 2012

  • April 27, 2012
  • Note:  I have been traveling so much lately that I haven’t had time to publish everything I have been writing.  A little archeology on my MacBook produced this analysis from last week.

    Marketo and CrowdFactory are joining forces to produce an integrated social marketing suite.  The deal was announced last Wednesday and you can reference the details here: (Barney can you add the url for the PR when it comes out?)

    Here are my takeaways.

    1. Marketo is a hot emerging company focusing on digital marketing, is a good place to hang your hat if you want to collect venture capital and have an IPO.  While digital marketing is an important thing today, I think it is showing signs of reaching maturity.  It’s been around long enough that the category creator, Eloqua, has already gone public and the solution class is becoming well known.  This is not to say that everyone has digital marketing in-house or even knows what it is.  But there’s ROI, or as Marketo might tell you RPM for revenue performance management.  Nonetheless there’s a lot of market space left.
    2. CrowdFactory is also emerging but it is at an earlier stage than Marketo.  It’s solution type is also newer and less well understood.  CrowdFactory is a social marketing solution that I first became aware of during 2011’s CRM Idol contest.  As a primary judge in the competition, I saw their earliest briefing and was impressed.  They use social techniques to more actively involve customers in marketing campaigns and the solution set includes some aspects of the still nascent idea called gamification.  But as a social campaign solution they are more tactical than Marketo in some ways.

    The combination of Marketo and CrowdFactory gives the combined company greater ability to play in the strategic as opposed to tactical realm.  I can see Marketo as more of a B2B play and CrowdFactory as more of a B2C offering.  The combination not only cross fertilizes each area with it’s opposite member’s best ideas, it also gives more of an end to end marketing twist to companies that go after each kind of market.

    More importantly I see marketing changing in the general direction that the combined forces of Marketo and CrowdFactory are proceeding.  Conventional B2B marketing with more of an accelerated B2C flavor would undoubtedly warm the cockles (a technical term) of many sales managers souls.  Likewise, B2C marketing campaigns with more of a thought leadership (as opposed to buy this now!) approach might elevate that conversation.

    It’s my belief that in the near future we need to find more ways to understand opportunities and automate them to help reduce the overhead and time it takes to more deals ahead and for this reason alone I like this merger.

    Published: 11 years ago

    SugarCRM held its user conference, SugarCon in San Francisco last week and by most measures it was a big success.  The event, shoehorned into the Palace Hotel, will begin moving around next year settling in New York where it will attract a larger crowd, including many more customers and fans from Europe before possibly hopping the Atlantic the following year.

    The movement is a manifestation of organic growth, which CEO Larry Augustin was happy to say included near or above 100% year over year growth in the two most recent quarters.  You might be surprised by the uptick but it is an overnight success that has been years in the making.  Moreover, if your thoughts about Sugar tend to equate its open source model with unprofitability, Augustin’s keynote might have been an eye opener.

    In his keynote Augustin said that while most of us know about Linux, the open source movement is much more than the operating system.  Linux is the open source version of Unix that gained so much traction and support when it came out because the open source model enabled programmers to donate their time and skills to make the operating system one of the most reliable in the industry.  But the idea didn’t stop at operating systems and suddenly re-emerge in CRM.  Augustin showed that web server software such as Apache, which has about half of the market along with open source databases and other technologies are behind many of the technologies we commonly associate with the social and mobile revolution. 

    All of that plus the continuing growth of SugarCRM’s partner ecosystem and compatible applications are contributing to the company’s continued growth — so much so that the company now claims to be the fastest growing CRM company.  So things look good if you are SugarCRM.  They have capable products and a business model that is now well enough understood that its representatives can spend less time promoting open source and more time solving customer business problems.

    In line with all of that, the company has demonstrated a certain flair for managing the intricacies of operations by putting on a flawless customer event.  Its future looks bright.

    Published: 11 years ago

    I was surprised by the Salesforce.com announcement coming out of the company’s road show, Cloudforce Washington this week.  In the nation’s capital the company announced Government Cloud, which is just what you’d think it is if you’d been following Salesforce at all.

    Beginning this summer, the company plans to deploy a secure and separate infrastructure to support cloud based applications for state and federal governments.  It will also open a new application store in the cloud just for government apps vendors and their Force.com wares — AppExchange for Government.

    The announcement came and went on an average news day while I was in San Francisco attending SugarCon, the SugarCRM user meeting.  That surprised me because the implication, if I am understanding the announcement correctly, is that for the very first time, Salesforce is cleaving its service into two parts more or less.  Potentially that means separate and equal secure servers and a separate image of the software.

    If that’s true it represents a milestone of sorts for the company and the technology.  While I have no doubts that the company will maintain its software so that there is no difference between the government and commercial systems, it appears that the development of separate infrastructure was needed to prove to the potential customers that security is paramount.

    Again, if true, this would seem to open the door to additional future instances of separate infrastructure for Salesforce and at that point I don’t know what the difference is between a private and public cloud (Ok, I do know but, you know what I mean).  The government is, according to the same article, getting ready to award a contract for government wide email and other office services and Google and Microsoft are in contention.

    So it appears that the market for cloud services is heating up and the ultimate prize of thousands of seats is causing some jockeying for position among the big vendors.  This would seem to mark turning point in how we define cloud services and is no doubt brought about by the plethora of offerings that promote multitenancy as an option.  Nonetheless, you can still call me skeptical of any solution that simply lets a company move all of its bad habits to the cloud.  “Your mess, elsewhere for less,” isn’t what I signed up for.  But that’s just me.

    On another note, with government jumping into cloud computing, it makes me wonder if the market for Oracle Exa-stuff got a shot of adrenalin this week.  If government is going to play in the cloud you can bet on a couple of things.  First, with lots of users there will be lots of data and second, lots of users will require big husky servers with fault tolerant capabilities.  All this suggests the latest high end computing gear and companies like Oracle bubble up in this discussion.

    So I want more information.  I am flying home as I post this and it will be high on a crammed agenda tomorrow.  I wonder why there’s been so little reaction.

    Published: 11 years ago

    You can always find the moment when a trend goes south, the point when you know that smart money should be headed for the exits.  In TV they refer to it as jumping the shark.  It’s the point in the life of a series when there’s nothing left for the writers to write about and they start cannibalizing old material.  The term comes from the iconic 1970s show “Happy Days” which was about the 1950s.

    Ok.  So the thing that’s got me thinking about jumping the shark is a new web property so I guess this has something to do with social media though the concept is not exactly social in the conventional sense.

    MissTravel.com is a new property where “beautiful people” match themselves up with “generous people.”  Want to travel but can’t afford it?  No problem, hook up with someone on the site.  Naturally you need to come to an, ahem, understanding about just what the quid pro quo might be.  And no this is not some sort of high end prostitution set up, because they say so.

    Miss T is the brainchild of that online dating entrepreneur, Brandon Wade.  I wonder if they teach a course in this kind of entrepreneurship at Stanford, Harvard or MIT.  At any rate, Wade cut his teeth starting up another site called SeekingArrangement.com which his press release refers to as a sugar daddy dating website.

    I got the PR in a story pitch because I am one of those influential types who write.  Oh joy!  Now I’ve done exactly what they hoped I would and I feel like I need a shower.  What an incredibly brash thing to do.

    Published: 11 years ago

    At Oracle Spring Analyst day last week, Mark Hurd spoke about simplification and about how the industry needs to reduce complexity, a good message.  But he equates simplicity with reducing the number of vendors that a corporation works with — at least in IT.  However,  history shows this is not the path to simplicity.  It’s just a route to profits once a vendor becomes the only incumbent.

    Complexity is often the signal that an old paradigm is reaching its asymptote.  Simplicity, its opposite, often ensues but at the cost of exploding the old order.  Mainframes didn’t get simpler, mini-computers became common and the number of vendors didn’t decline, it rose thanks to the standards that new vendors brought.  Standards made it possible for lots of competitors to play and the competition made better products and services.

    This paradigm busting continued when PCs and networks replaced both minis and mainframes and it continues as cloud computing replaces the data center and its ossifying stack.  Standards for cloud computing, social interaction and communication, mobility and analytics all contribute to the new paradigm, which Hurd seemed to see as a glass half empty.

    Standards make it possible for many vendors to compete without increasing complexity.  In fact, without the standards brought by a new paradigm, the old paradigm simply collapses due to its increasing internal complexity.  So, Hurd was right to offer simplicity as a goal but I think he was off point in suggesting that the current paradigm could or should be simplified.

    Oracle is initiating a new paradigm that simplifies the old order albeit with its own standards which I hope will remain non-proprietary.  I think in its messaging the company would be better served if it acknowledged that the road ahead is a new, and for a time, simplified paradigm.  Then the massive influx of social and services providers makes sense and ceases to threaten the IT hierarchy.

    Simplicity is a good idea.  It often means a new paradigm is forming and those who initiate the change are usually the winners.  Oracle is both instigator and guardian of the status quo.  It must engage in its own creative destruction.  So far the company has walked a fine line of defender of the faith and iconoclast.  The challenge ahead is for the company to stay on course and not to believe all of its marketing messaging.

    Published: 11 years ago