• June 28, 2016
  • Denis-PombriantThe great thing about the software world that I spend so much time in is that it is very much a meritocracy, imperfect to be sure, but a place where merit is usually rewarded. That’s why the controversy over the Brits voting to leave the European Union seems so strange.

    In CRM terms, the decision to leave the EU looks a lot like dissatisfied customers taking a walk. I just wrote a book about customer loyalty and the whole Brexit looks like a riff on the movie, “How to lose a guy in ten days” with Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey. Everything looked so good at the beginning and watching it all go south was sometimes funny but also sad.

    If the EU could manage to find ways to alienate its constituents it didn’t miss many opportunities. In the vendor world could you imagine the same kinds of behavior? Over controlling, micro-managing, killing economies for the sin of over-spending, enabling chaotic borders, ignoring people’s feelings, and many other things drove the voting. At the end of the day, the vote wasn’t even close.

    CRM was developed precisely to help businesses to avoid the beaucratization that can leave customers out in the cold. Its many modules are designed to capture customer data, analyze it, and help vendors to make important decisions about what to do next—all in an effort to retain customers and keep them engaged. CRM is about proactive personalization and contextual interaction, two things in short supply in the EU.

    The Britons who voted to leave the union were not engaged in the European project. They’d spent the quarter century after the Maastricht Treaty absorbing the almost daily reality of big brother decision-making that too many didn’t think benefitted them.

    Unfortunately, another aspect of life with CRM might have contributed in some small way to the vote to leave. I am referring to the understanding, honed by increasing reliance on subscriptions, that one can unsubscribe from a vendor and move on whenever the mood strikes whether or not the mood is justified. No muss, no fuss, no need to consider the aftershocks to the vendor. Unfortunately, we’ve increasingly become accustomed to chasing the newest thing that coruscates with effulgence.

    But what works at a micro-economic level can be absolutely toxic when attempted on the macro plane. Governments are supposed to last and treaties are assumed to as well; they are the foundational elements on which we base decisions about the rest of our lives. They are never written in such stark terms as the GAAP accounting standards but those standards are a good example.*

    What’s most frustrating about the Brexit is that so much has gone on for so long and the channels of redress are so narrow that the only seeming solution was the vote that occurred last week. But as I’ve written before it seems there is, or should be, a pony in that pile of manure and there is.

    The EU was best when it did least. It was an economic union, a trading paradigm that enabled small countries to bypass the red tape inherent in national currencies and far too many border crossings each with their own rules. Computers can handle that work today and as for the rest of the EU? It would be nice if the EU members accepted that they’d overbuilt their union edifice, that what’s needed is less political union and simply more friction free commerce.

    On another level, I sense a business opportunity for CRM that dwarfs anything yet seen. For several years, the vendor community has been heads-down focusing on the consumerization of its software. Making the software that mediates relationships with customers as intuitive and friendly as possible is part of what drives the digitization wave.

    But a criticism of digitization has always been, for what purpose? The answer that is coming into view seems to be CRM for constituents rather than customers. Government outreach to citizens is too often bare-bones and decrepit. But what if we applied CRM ideas and technologies to government? No doubt there would be naysayers but I think their foot dragging would be in the service of a status quo that benefits too few and no longer works. It would be obvious and these naysayers could be discounted.

    A CRM approach to government means incorporating all of the social, mobile, and analytic capacities we now have but on a grander scale. It means asking for more citizen participation in communities while promising better response and outreach. Importantly people could vote with CRM raising participation rates. I know this would scare a lot of politicians who depend on low turnout and sometimes even suppression, but there it is.

    This political season is full of charlatans who are too in a hurry to knock things down and who haven’t a clue what to replace the old structures with. This is it: bring government into the 21st century using CRM technologies and ideas so that we never have a Brexit situation ever again.


    • The Four Basic Assumptions of Accounting
    • Economic or Separate Entity: The company is treated as a separate economic entity for accounting purposes, even if it isn’t a separate legal entity.
    • Monetary Unit: The only business transactions recorded are those in financial terms (dollars and cents in the U.S.).
    • Time Period: Financial reports cover a specific period of time.
    • Going concern: Financial reporting assumes, unless otherwise known, that the business will continue operating indefinitely.

    Thanks to Carol Wiley, Accountingedu contributing writer


    Published: 8 years ago

    Last week was like the fireworks on the Fourth of July.  You know how at the end they fire off a huge flourish of explosives and if you live in Boston for some reason the Boston Pops plays the 1812 Overture?  It was like that minus the Pops.  Actually, the crescendo was not limited to last week but to a rolling thunder effect that happens because many software companies have decided Q2 is a good time for analysts to visit the Bay Area.

    So SAP, NetSuite and Xactly, just to name a few, all had conferences.  I heard from attendees that SAP had some interesting things to say though I am not sure where they go from here since I was not in attendance and I won’t comment further.  I’ve already commented on NetSuite, which I think put on a good show of painting a picture of the future and showing how they were positioning themselves for it.  A couple of weeks earlier SugarCRM did much the same thing.

    The Xactly conference followed the broad outlines others had set.  Attendance nearly doubled over last year and the company came into the event fully loaded with announcements and ideas.  If you aren’t aware of Xactly you should be.  The company specializes in sales compensation management.  You might think sales comp is a backwater but not so fast — it is becoming an integral part of the sales management tool kit.

    It’s about time too.  I can’t tell you how many companies want to brief me on the latest ways to make sales people perform.  Please.  They’re already coin operated, you don’t need draconian measures to get them to perform, just a little reward system that makes sense.  That’s where Xactly comes in.

    Sales compensation systems used to be sold on the benefits of timely reward for jobs well done and accuracy in the accounting process.  Indirectly, greater accuracy meant less labor for the CFO’s team trying to close out the quarter too.  But another benefit, that Xactly CEO, Chris Cabrera likes to focus on, is the utility of a mountain of sales data and Xactly provides analytics for that.

    Selling, in case you haven’t been paying attention, has become much more metrics driven.  The amount of data sales teams collect is quite big and the vendor that can turn that data into usable information will be ahead of the pack.  That’s what Xactly has tried to do and it seems to be working.

    What also impressed me about the Xactly CompCloud 2012 is how well the company is managing to insert compensation management and tracking into the sales process.  The company is sticking to its knitting and doing things relevant to performance management through compensation.  The best example is the release of an iPhone app, which was announced at the show.

    Large and small sales organizations are equipping their sales people with iPads these days.  And just as graphics packages like PowerPoint became the killer application of the laptop and word processing and spreadsheets were the killer apps of desktops, the killer app for the tablet might be video.  With video a sales person can deliver an error free message to customers and do all the other things a sales person needs to do without starting up the machine and waiting or running down the battery.  Unlike PowerPoint, there’s less wondering if the presentation is up to date and all the rest.

    So it’s highly likely that the tablet will in short order be the go-to device for sales people.  It’s also less expensive than a laptop, which only adds fuel to the fire.  So it makes good sense for Xactly to be on the tablet where sales people are certain to be in the future.  In this context an iPad app makes perfect sense.

    In its various product editions Xactly has increased the compensation footprint in useful and logical ways.  For instance, Xactly Territories is an end-to-end solution for territory planning and management.  What managers used to spend hours on with manual processes can now be done in a fraction of the time it once took while enabling them to play what-if scenarios.

    Other extensions into the sales process include Xactly Analytics (already discussed), eDocs & Approvals, Modeling and Sandbox.  All of these modules provide logical extensions of the sales compensation idea that will directly benefit sales people and managers.

    So there’s a lot to like for this sales compensation management company.  Given the environment and the customer response I saw last week, it would be easy to say that Xactly is on course and poised to make more of an impression as selling and the economy continue to improve.

    Published: 12 years ago