The next generation of product development will require wholesale change to the types of skills companies need. As my colleague James Staten recently wrote, an earthquake in Silicon Valley is turning every company into a software vendor. It is this notion, that every company becomes an ISV, that will profoundly change the nature of business, and in particular product development:
Software, and customers interaction with that software, now defines companies and their brands.
Developing software-enabled products requires sophisticated technology and architectural design skills. This presents tremendous challenges — even more so for companies for whom technology is not in their DNA.
Companies must look in the mirror and evaluate if they currently have the skills and expertise to navigate this new environment. In this new world where customers interact with you through software, do you have the skills to develop products and services which will create intense and enjoyable customer experiences?
Oracle has missed revenue expectations for three quarters in a row now as its Q3 results fell short of market expectations. The company blamed currency fluctuations and the strength of the US dollar for this latest miss.
The company reported third quarter earnings of $2.6 billion on revenue of $9.3 billion. Wall Street expected to Oracle to report fiscal third quarter revenue of $9.36 billion.
To be fair, Oracle did deliver some good data points. For instance, hardware system product revenue for the third quarter was $725 million, up 8 percent from a year ago. Software license and support revenue was up 5 percent to $4.6 billion and new software licenses and cloud subscriptions were up 4 percent from a year ago to $2.4 billion. Oracle says its outlook for the fourth quarter was solid. Safra Catz, Oracle co-president, said revenue growth in the fourth quarter will be between 3 percent and 7 percent.
Oracle won’t want to miss Quarterly earnings expectations again and will expect their sales teams to outperform in the next couple of months. All of which bodes well for an exciting run up to Oracle’s fiscal year end on May 31st.
Here are three quick tips to bear in mind as you prepare to negotiate with Oracle:
1. If you have an Oracle contract up for negotiation this quarter, then you should leverage the pressure Oracle sales are under to hit market expectations by squeezing an extra point or two of discount in return for a signed contract.
2. If you have a support renewal coming up, remember you have a choice now and third parties like Rimini Street, Spinnaker Support and Alui can give you real leverage at the negotiating table.
I attended an NG Telecom summit in Hong Kong recently; at the event, I chaired a discussion on how telcos need to improve the customer experience.
Consumers now have powerful mobile devices in their hands, speedy access to social platforms, and the ability to call up information on the go. More importantly, customers today can choose to easily switch to a competitor if they don’t like the customer experience they are receiving. As a result, telcos no longer “own” customers — it’s the other way around.
The discussion participants all agreed that telcos must do the following to meet customer-centric needs:
Simplify systems and processes. The debate on how to simplify complex telco business support systems (BSS) to make it easy for customers to consume services is an ongoing one. When BSS cannot provide a single, unified view of the customer, it’s difficult to provide a consistent customer experience. This happens with CRM systems: Call center agents struggle through five or six screens just to get a complete customer profile while irate customers spend time repeating their personal details or waiting for a resolution. Telcos must be like OTT players, which have very complicated businesses, systems, and processes on the back end but present a simple front-end interface to the customer.
IBM recently kicked off its big data market planning for 2014 and released a white paper that discusses how analytics create new business value for end user organizations. The major differences compared with last year’s event:
Organizational change. IBM has assigned a new big data practice leader for China, similar to what it’s done for other new technologies including mobile, social, and cloud. IBM can integrate resources from infrastructure (IBM STG), software (IBM SWG), and services (IBM GBS/GTS) teams, although the team members do not report directly to them.
A new analytics platform powered by Watson technology. The Watson Foundation platform has three new functions. It can be deployed on SoftLayer; it extends IBM’s big data analysis capabilities to social, mobile, and cloud; and it offers enterprises the power and ease of use of Watson analysis.
Measurable benefits from customer insights analysis. Chinese organizations have started to buy into the value of analytics and would like to invest in technology tools to optimize customer insights. AmorePacific, a Hong Kong-based skin care and cosmetics company, is using IBM’s SPSS predictive analytics solution to craft tailored messages to its customers and has improved its response rate by more than 30%. It primarily analyzes point-of-sale data, demographic information from its loyalty program, and market data such as property values in the neighborhoods where customers live.
At Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona, SingTel CEO Chua Sock Koong was reported as “call[ing] on Australian regulators to give carriers like Optus the right to charge rivals WhatsApp and Skype for use of their networks or risk a major decline in network investment.”
With the telecommunications industry unable to monetize over-the-top (OTT) traffic, telcos will struggle to find the funding they need to improve their infrastructure — meaning that network quality could deteriorate. Chua did concede that telcos should work toward partnering with OTT players.
What It Means
SingTel’s argument runs over familiar ground, similar to the ongoing net neutrality debate in the US. My colleagues suggest that telcos will offer tiered access at tiered pricing to OTT players in the future, charging higher prices for better connection speeds and greater data traffic. While I don’t doubt this, price-sensitive Asia may be a harder nut to crack; telcos here run the risk of customer churn by raising service prices.
Aside from speeding up its rate of service innovation, SingTel should:
Despite an increasingly crowded market of cloud applications, salesforce.com is still very much the “darling” of the SaaS world. Some evidence of the provider’s continued fast-paced growth?
1) Strong stock market performance. On June 12, 2013, when salesforce.com announced the completion of its acquisition of ExactTarget, salesforce.com stock (CRM) was trading at $37.58. On February 19, 2014, it closed at just over $63, a gain of 67.7% over that period (for reference the NASDAQ Composite did roughly 25% over the same period).
2) External accolades for its ability to innovate. In August, salesforce.com was names by Forbes as the world’s most innovative company for the third year running.
3) Steady flow of new products and editions. In November, salesforce.com announced its new Salesforce1 Service Cloud – a platform to be used for cloud-based application development. This product represents a significant improvement in the mobile salesforce.com experience which will ideally aid them in meeting their aggressive financial predictions. Not long before that, salesforce.com had announced Social.com, in April 2013.
4) Revenue growth. Salesforce.com’s recent fiscal results (Q3 2013) conservatively project revenue growth of more than $1 billion for both this year and next ($4.05 billion for FY 2014 and $5.15 billion for FY 2015, compared to $3.05 billion in FY 2103).
So, it is no surprise then (in light of salesforce.com’s massive scale and continued expansion) that we continue to receive a heavy volume of Inquiries into Forrester about how to negotiate with salesforce.com.