It is no longer breaking news to say that the US and the European Union (EU) are turning from product-based to service economies. The trend of the increasing importance of the service sector has only been accentuated by the recent (and perhaps still ongoing) subprime mortgage and financial system meltdowns, volatile stock markets, declining durable (hard) goods orders, dwindling physical product-based profit margins, and so on and so forth.
But one saving grace for these developed (the Group of Eight [G8] and beyond) countries’ economies could be the post-sale service or aftermarket business model offering services to fix (repair), maintain, and optimize products that are sold to installed bases. While durable goods orders decline and product-based margins diminish in maturing and commoditized industries, service margins remain very healthy. Thus, service businesses currently contribute about 70 percent of the world economy. Read the rest of this entry »
Part 1 of this series introduced the conundrum that retailers (especially those in the areas of fashion and apparel) encounter in the realms of design, sourcing, ordering, and delivery of private label and branded goods. The article also introduced TradeStone Software and its merchandise lifecycle management (MLM) solutions that enable a number of the world’s most successful retailers to bring innovative and profitable private-label products to market at ever higher speeds.
Technology is changing at a breakneck pace, and is there anyone out there who will debate me on that issue? The undeniable evidence that I am getting old is the fact that I got my engineering degree in the late 1980s. Imagine how much easier my studies would have been then had only the Internet, word processors, Wikipedia, presentation software, multimedia products, etc., been available?
The other day I saw a TV commercial where an oblivious “back to the future” dude in a crowded coffee shop was noisily typing away on an ancient typewriter and getting strange looks and grimaces from other patrons in the shop who were all using nifty smartphones and PC’s. Well, guess what, I had to type my final paper on a squeaky typewriter, make multiple photocopies of it, and have it bound into books for the final exam committee.
At least, I wasn’t doing anything that would have been considered archaic for the time.
Part 1 of this series analyzed two white papers entitled “Customer Relationship Management: The Winning Strategy in a Challenging Economy” and “Maximizing CRM Effectiveness During Lean Times” and authored by Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Oracle CRM, respectively. The blog post made the case for forward-looking enterprises to leverage customer relationship management (CRM) solutions to help them both weather the ongoing storm and prepare for the inevitable turnaround.
In addition to several macroeconomic trends that seem to be helping CRM solutions prove their worth, the post also analyzed the recent technological enablers that are making CRM offerings more affordable, flexible, and easy to use. In addition to concluding the technical discussion and trends, Part 2 then introduced five main CRM strategies that companies can employ to survive and thrive during uncertain economic conditions, starting with the focus on existing customers. Part 3 concludes this series by analyzing the remaining four CRM strategies. Read the rest of this entry »
Part 1 of this blog series discussed the current upbeat state of affairs of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, as one of the three best-performing products within the entire Microsoft Corporation of late. In a nutshell, during 2009 the product grew significantly and surpassed its one millionth user. Microsoft’s customer relationship management (CRM) offering has become attractive to companies of all sizes, in part because it offers multiple deployment options (with bidirectional migration options due to the same code base).
The underlying technology developments mentioned in Part 1 have enabled the rapid innovation of Microsoft Dynamics CRM in many ways. The first illustration of the rapid innovation is the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online offering, which was launched in April 2008 and has since had four feature pack releases (or service updates).
Some signs of a modest economic recovery and cautious optimism are shyly popping out, although they might be only be crumbs of comfort for many unemployed regular Joes. I also saw improved optimism at the recent National Retail Federation’s (NRF) BIG Retail Show 2010 in New York City in mid January. In contrast, the atmosphere of the same retail show one year ago felt like attending someone’s memorial service, where almost everyone was waiting for the other shoe to drop (no pun intended).
Namely, this year’s show exuded an upbeat feeling in addition to an about 20 percent higher attendance. The “big guys” in retail, such as IBM, Microsoft, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, SAP, Oracle, SAS, JDA Software, and so on, expectedly had their large and perhaps gaudy stands (some with interesting entertainment gigs by the local artistic groups). But I am always more keen on seeing what some smaller, and often more innovative vendors have to say and exhibit. For an exhaustive list of this year’s exhibitors, see here.
Part I of this series analyzed the opportunities (as well as the related strings attached) stemming from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), a.k.a. the Economic Stimulus Plan. The inspiration came from my attendance of the Deltek Insight 2009 user conference last May, where Deltek decided to fill a market need and interest by convening a separate “track” that was entitled “Stimulus & Beyond (Navigating the Brave New World).”
Part II of this series then analyzed why Deltek believes it can help government contractors and architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) firms, as well as other public sector organizations in their endeavors to obtain ARRA funds (i.e., the opportunity part) and duly report on them (the strings part for transparency and accountability). Part III then expanded on the construction industry’s current challenges, its outlook, and market trends.
Although Deltek inspired this series and while the company caters to AEC firms, its focus and software capabilities are in the design or planning stage of an infrastructure object. But the entire infrastructure lifecycle management (ILM) encompasses the following phases that denote yet another three-letter acronym (TLA) – “PBO”:
While Microsoft Corporation has not usually been that forthcoming about breaking down its revenues per individual product lines, during one earnings announcement call for financial analysts in 2009, the worldwide leader in software, services, and solutions for people and businesses pointed out the following three products as its best performers: SharePoint, Microsoft Unified Communications, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. In fact, as stated in my previous blog post on Microsoft’s technology for enterprise applications, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics AX (formerly Axapta) already have built-in unified communications (UC) traits and collaborative SharePoint portal capabilities.
Microsoft claims that its so-called “CRM+” combination (i.e., Dynamics CRM and SharePoint) has become a compelling customer value proposition. The entire Microsoft Dynamics portfolio is now an over US$1 billion business with more than 300,000 worldwide customers and 10,000+ business partners. Still, the entire Dynamics line of business had a 7 percent decline in Fiscal 2009 (although Microsoft has kept almost religiously mum on providing financial data on individual Dynamics product lines).
In 2009, I attended two Gartner Summit events: the Gartner Business Process Management (BPM) Summit in March in San Diego; and Gartner Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Summit in September in Scottsdale. I not only saw a number of same vendors at both events, but both events also had many similar themes, such as customer service, workflow automation, business processes, collaboration, customer retention, social media, key performance indicators (KPIs)/performance metrics, and so on and so forth.
It might be indicative that BPM and CRM are quite converging disciplines in that Gartner found enough synergy to host its CRM and BPM summits back-to-back in Washington, D.C. in late 2008 (events I did not attend). While BPM vendors are beginning to offer more CRM capabilities, CRM vendors are “returning the favor” with BPM features (e.g., workflow and business rules engines).
This process (no pun intended) may have begun several years ago. Namely, in 2005, the former Onyx Corporation (acquired by Consona Coporation in 2006 and meanwhile renamed into Consona Customer Management), began shifting its focus from highly contested and commoditized CRM applications toward more adaptive BPM-enabled applications via the former Onyx Process Manager in 2005. Consona’s CRM division does not sell its BPM module outside its CRM offering, but is proud to talk about its product’s adaptability due to native BPM features.
Both software categories also grew (CRM about 5 percent and BPM about 10 percent) in 2009, in contrast to a decline in most other enterprise applications. When money is tight, shrewd businesses look for ways to do more with less, and BPM seems to hold the promise of improving the customer’s experience. As companies cite business processes affected by CRM as their top challenge, CRM vendors have moved from focusing on pure technology to enabling processes, and BPM capabilities have taken a greater role in CRM suites. This convergence leads me to quote Forrest Gump: “We goes together like peas and carrots.”
Part 1 of this blog series analyzed two white papers entitled “Customer Relationship Management: The Winning Strategy in a Challenging Economy” and “Maximizing CRM Effectiveness During Lean Times,” authored by Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Oracle CRM, respectively. My post made the case for forward-looking enterprises to leverage customer relationship management (CRM) solutions to help them both weather the ongoing storm and prepare for the inevitable turnaround.
In addition to several macroeconomic trends that seem to be helping CRM solutions prove their worth, I also analyzed the recent technological enablers that are making CRM offerings more affordable, flexible, and easy to use. One enabler is the software as a service (SaaS) or on-demand subscription-based deployment mode and the other is the fact that CRM has lately expanded from its traditional “operational” realm into also being “analytic, collaborative, and social.”
Part I of this series analyzed the opportunity as well as the related attached strings stemming from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), a.k.a. the Economic Stimulus Plan. The inspiration came from my attendance of the Deltek Insight 2009 user conference last May, where Deltek decided to fill a market need and interest by convening a separate “track” that was entitled “Stimulus & Beyond (Navigating the Brave New World).”
Part II of this series then analyzed why Deltek believes it can help government contractors, architecture, engineering & construction (AEC) firms, and other public sector organizations in their endeavors to obtain ARRA funds (i.e., the opportunity part) and duly report on them (for transparency and accountability). But what about the construction industry’s current challenges, its outlook, and the market trends?
Part 1 of this series expanded on some of TEC’s earlier articles about companies’ need for better pricing management and optimization practices. This series, which focuses on the complexity of pricing and promotions in retailing, was inspired by JDA Software’s recent “edu-nouncement” on leading retailers consumer-centric pricing and promotions strategies, and by Revionics’ recent (and still ongoing) educational series of Web-seminars.
Part 2 analyzed some common retailers’ practices and explained the frequently used vernacular terms. Then the post went into the building blocks of pricing optimization, starting with setting optimal initial (everyday) prices.
Part 3 analyzed the other two building blocks of pricing optimization: promotions and markdowns. Then, the post went into the next generation of pricing optimization according to JDA: Lifecycle Pricing.
Part 4 continued the series by analyzing the pricing optimization vendor landscape, and featured the next-generation pricing optimization approaches of two on-demand software specialists, Revionics and DemandTec. Coming at the heels of the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) BIG Show 2010, Part 5 will conclude the blog series by further analyzing the retail pricing optimization vendor landscape and other vendors’ approaches to the next generation of pricing optimization solutions.
Some previous TEC blog posts have discussed the benefits (but also the inevitable caveats) of white papers, including the all-too-common vendors’ self-serving marketing fluff and buzzword verbiage, and about their (un)intended audiences. As part of my daily routine of doing research on vendors and their strategies and offerings, I’ve read a ton of white papers in the last decade or so.
And yes, these have ranged from blatant and flamboyant bragging about a vendor’s capabilities (a la the “Every man thinks his own geese are swans” proverb) to some exceptional ones that were quite educational and established someone’s expertise in something. Read the rest of this entry »
Part I of this blog series tried to analyze not only the opportunity but also the many related strings attached stemming from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), a.k.a. the Economic Stimulus Plan. The inspiration came from my attendance of the Deltek Insight 2009 user conference last May, where Deltek decided to fill a market need by convening a separate “track” that was entitled “Stimulus & Beyond (Navigating the Brave New World).”
The conclusion of the keynote session was that while public sector organizations stand a fair opportunity to receive unprecedented amounts of economic stimulus funds, the catch is that they need to provide unprecedented transparency and accountability into how those funds are spent while measuring the achievements of those programs. Indeed, many of the “lucky” recipients of funds from the ARRA must meet legal requirements to publish timely and accurate accounting, allocation, and results data for every dollar received.
Part 1 of this blog series outlined Oracle’s recent (and seemingly genuine) change of heart and approach towards partnering and catering enterprise applications to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The analysis then moved onto the Oracle Accelerate program, which was launched about three years ago to allow partners to sell more of smaller projects in a fixed time and price manner.
Oracle Accelerate is not only a partner program but also Oracle’s go-to-market approach to provide business software solutions to midsize organizations. Part 1 described the main constituent parts of the approach, while Part 2 talked about the program’s current state of affairs. Part 3 of this blog series analyzed the program’s latest partner-enablement developments as well as the inevitable room for improvements.
This final part will analyze the offering that Oracle Accelerate is most likely to face in the market, which is SAP Business All-in-One. The series will end with analyzing mid-market enterprise resource planning (ERP) incumbents with an innate industry focus (i.e., without the need for templates and pre-configured approaches) as well as with general conclusions and recommendations.