June 30th, 2016 by Sam Del Rowe

Although 67 percent of senior marketers consider marketing technologies to be very important to marketing’s overall effectiveness and performance, just 3 percent say that their technologies are aligning well with areas outside of marketing, according to a new study from SAP Hybris and the CMO Council. Based on an online audit of more than 170 senior marketing leaders, the report identifies a number of areas of improvement for marketers.

One of the study’s most noteworthy findings concerns customer engagement. 46 percent of marketing leaders report that their customers engage across a multitude of channels, but when they have a specific problem, they elect to pick up the phone for immediate human attention. Furthermore, an additional 25 percent of marketing leaders say that their customers connect through an increasingly intricate combination of online and offline channels. Taken together, these results indicate that the majority of marketing leaders characterize customer engagement as multichannel.

This multichannel approach presents a number of challenges for marketers. When asked to identify the single greatest challenge to their organizations, 19 percent of marketing leaders named keeping up with customers’ expectations and demands, and 17 percent cited managing and leveraging data from different engagement channels. Additionally, 12 percent said that upgrading and transforming technology to improve customer engagement was the greatest challenge to their organizations.

Taken together, these results indicate that marketers still need to focus on crafting a seamless experience for their customers, and using customer data to tailor that experience to the individual. Nevertheless, organizations should not neglect the importance of delivering great customer service over the phone, as many consumers make a call when they encounter a problem.

June 27th, 2016 by Oren Smilansky

It’s always exciting when a company decides to smarten up an otherwise “dumb” object (such as an oven, for instance) and link it to the Internet, but according to research from IOActive, a security services firm, fewer than 1 in ten of the connected devices currently available on the market are adequately secure.

14_OECD_1In its Internet of Things (IoT) Security Survey, which was completed by senior security professionals in March of 2016, the firm found that almost half (47%) of respondents lacked faith in the IoT products available for purchase; 85% of participants believe that less than half of them were secure. The survey also found that nearly three fourths (72%) of respondents felt that a lack of protection within these products is the biggest challenge facing IoT security today.

“Consensus is that more needs to be done to improve the security of all products, but the exponential rate at which IoT products are coming to market, compounded by the expansive risk network created by their often open connectivity, makes IoT security a particular concern and priority,” said Jennifer Steffens, chief executive officer for IOActive, in a statement.

Steffens also pointed out that, according to Gartner, 21 billion connected objects will be in use by 2020, so it’s important that protection should be built into those objects to prevent hackers from taking advantage of any weaknesses. And, she added, rather than rushing to roll products out and engineering security “after the fact,” companies would save costs, and reduce risk, by addressing potential concerns prior to release.

Interesting is the fact that, despite such concerns, 63% of respondents also believed that IoT products are more secure than other categories, including computer software and hardware, or even medical devices–which might be another issue in and of itself.

June 23rd, 2016 by Sam Del Rowe

Consumers consider accuracy to be the most important feature of wearables, according to a survey conducted by Valencell and MEMS & Sensor Industry Group. The survey polled 706 U.S. consumers between ages 18 and 65, and defined a wearable as “a device, clothing, and/or accessories incorporating computer and advanced electronic technologies.”

63 percent of respondents ranked accuracy as being a highly important feature for a wearable. 42 percent of respondents currently own or have owned a wearable device, with 80 percent saying that their wearable has positively impacted their health. Among those who do not own a wearable, 74 percent said that they would consider purchasing one if its accuracy could assist them in better managing their health.

The survey also revealed several other noteworthy findings. Of those respondents who own a wearable, 52 percent own a wristband, 36 percent own a pair of earbuds, and 32 percent own a smartwatch. For respondents who have stopped using a wearable, 40 percent reported too much of a hassle to continually recharge, 29 percent indicated a lack of accuracy, 26 percent said that the device was uncomfortable to wear, and 24 percent said that the device did not continually provide interesting insights.

June 20th, 2016 by Oren Smilansky

In the week following the Orlando massacre, which left 50 people dead and 53 wounded, companies from various industries have made considerable donations to the OneOrlando Fund, which was set up by Orlando’s mayor Buddy Dyer to support the victims of the tragedy.

Perhaps most notable of the donors is the Walt Disney Company, who pledged $1 million last week. The magnitude of the donation  isn’t so surprising, considering claims that the shooter, Omar Mateen, had scoped out Disney World as a potential target before deciding to launch his vicious attack on Pulse, a gay nightclub, instead.

Airline operator JetBlue also responded with a $100,000 donation. The company provided immediate family and domestic partners of the victims with free seats on fliorlandoflagghts to, and from, Orlando.  

Representatives from the financial services industry also opened their wallets, with Wells Fargo announcing a $300,000 donation , and J.P. Morgan saying it would give up to $500,000, while matching all employee donations collected up to $100,000. According to Fortune.com, 24-year-old victim Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz was an employee of the latter bank.

The telecommunications industry hasn’t remained silent, either. AT&T offered up $100,000, and Verizon initiated a program that allows people to text a code that activates a $10 donation to be added to their monthly phone bill.

Orlando-based Darden Restaurants, which operates Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse restaurants, has  pledged $500,000. And Tito’s Handmade Vodka has promised to donate up to $25,000 on the GoFundMe page set up by Equality Florida.

CVS Health Foundation also announced on Friday that it would donate $100,000. “We are heartbroken for our customers, colleagues and the community that have been impacted by the senseless tragedy that occurred in Orlando and offer our condolences to their families and loved ones,” Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Health said in a statement. “We hope our commitment will help the victims and families affected by this horrific act and support the Orlando community as it begins the healing process.”

June 17th, 2016 by Leonard Klie

It’s not every day that $26.2 billion changes hands, but for most of the country, and even the tech world, Monday’s announcement that Micrososft was buying business social networking site LinkedIn seemed to barely raise an eyebrow. I myself just happened to catch wind of it late Monday afternoon in passing while I was in the airport getting ready to board a plane for SugarCRM’s user conference.

That conference was being held in San Francisco, the hub of all things software-related. But even there, in Tech Central, news of the blockbuster deal barely registered. No one at the conference mentioned it. There wasn’t even chatter about it in the hallways at the Hilton San Francisco-Union Square Hotel, where SugarCon was being held.

Understandably, national attention was focused more on the mass nightclub shooting that took place in Orlando, Fla., earlier in the week, but surely someone in the Bay area and nearby Silicon Valley must have seen or heard something about the acquisition. If they did, they weren’t talking about it.

So while the deal went largely unnoticed, it is sure to have serious CRM implications as Microsoft now gets to blend all that business data contained within the profiles of LinkedIn’s 433 million members worldwide with Dynamics CRM.


By integrating LinkedIn into Dynamics, Microsoft will be able to alter how salespeople work, moving them to more personalized social selling.

To further move the needle, Microsoft plans to incorporate LinkedIn’s profile data into all aspects of its Office 365 business productivity suite, giving users of Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Skype access to unified profile information from LinkedIn within each application.

Microsoft also plans to incorporate LinkedIn features into Cortana, its digital personal assistant. Microsoft hopes to be able to add a predictive component to Cortana, leveraging LinkedIn’s professional networks to provide users with critical information about the people they’re meeting.

To show just how significant the deal was—or could be for the CRM industry—Salesforce.com chairman and CEO Marc Benioff confirmed to Recode that it, too, was interested in purchasing LinkedIn. Ultimately, though, Salesforce.com couldn’t match up with the huge premium that Microsoft paid. Instead, Salesforce.com bought Demandware for $2.8 billion, taking the company down a much different path into the world of e-commerce.


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