2016-09-02T10:57:02.693-07:00Salesforce.com released its second quarter earnings this week, followed by its quarterly earnings call. To provide a deeper analysis of the state of Salesforce.com’s business, we are pleased to release our SFDC Superlative Index™ for the latest quarter. Developed by the Enterprise System Spectator, the SFDC Superlative Index is a proprietary metric that quantifies the enthusiasm of Salesforce.com’s executives, by counting the number of superlatives used in their quarterly earnings calls and analyzing the changes in their use of these superlatives over time. Our proprietary list of 12 superlatives currently includes: exciting, incredible, huge, amazing, outstanding, terrific, awesome, phenomenal, fantastic, tremendous, extraordinary, and spectacular. Dramatic Decline in SuperlativesSalesforce executives used tracked superlatives only 71 times in their conference call this quarter. This is a significant drop from the 97 tracked superlatives used in the previous quarter, which was the highest number over the prior five quarters.After the call, Salesforce.com’s share price fell sharply in trading overnight and the next day. Many analysts attributed the decline in the share price to the firm’s revised forward guidance and the level of new bookings. But we attribute it mostly to Salesforce executives' declining enthusiasm, as shown in Figure 1. Analyzing the individual superlatives that make up the Index provides deeper insights.Excitement Takes a HitSFDC executives appear to be losing excitement, using the word "excited/exciting" only 14 times in the most recent earnings call, less than half the number of times used in the previous quarter, as shown in Figure 2. Nevertheless, CEO Marc Benioff reported that he was “so excited and … everyone in Salesforce is so excited” about the firm’s new artificial intelligence platform, Einstein.” He was also enthusiastic about the firm’s recent acquisitions of Demandware and Quip. “But it's been an incredible time for us to acquire some phenomenal assets and I have never been more excited about Salesforce and our product line and coming into Dreamforce, like I said is, just awesome.”Yet, new deals failing to close before the end of the quarter seemed to take a little off the edge of Benioff’s excitement. “So there [are] a lot of exciting things coming for Dreamforce, and nobody likes to see softness in any particular region…. Like I said, we really saw some great growth and deal flow in the United States, but we did get a bit of softness at the very end of the quarter,” he said. For his part, any softness at the end of the quarter didn’t seem to dampen the enthusiasm of COO Keith Block, who was still excited to be part of Salesforce.com. “As you know over three years ago Marc and I had many many conversations about coming onto Salesforce which I was super excited about and I continue to be super excited about being here.”Nevertheless, Business Is Increasingly Incredible and AmazingThe decline in excitement, however, was partially offset by an increase in the use of the superlatives “incredible” and “amazing.” In fact, “incredible” took the top spot from “exciting” this quarter, with “amazing” jumping into the number two spot, as shown in Figure 2. These two superlatives were especially pronounced in Benioff’s comments about recent acquisitions. “And as you know, over the last few years we have acquired a number of AI companies. Incredible companies like RelateIQ, MetaMind, Implisit, PredictionIO, Tempo AI and more with amazing, amazing people and technology. We have been able to stitch all this together into this incredible AI platform and this focus on AI and on the critical aspects of AI as the next wave of our industry has resulted in a machine learning team of more than 175 data scientists who have built this amazing Einstein platform. And that’s really why I am so excited and why everyone in Salesforce is so excited.”He continued, “It's [...]
2016-08-10T16:59:07.214-07:00(image) Traditional providers of ERP systems typically sought to expand their functional footprint to include complementary applications outside of core ERP. Now cloud ERP vendors are adopting a similar strategy, bringing significant benefits to buyers.
2016-06-03T10:27:50.508-07:00We often hear that Salesforce.com is an amazing company. But how amazing is it? The Enterprise System Spectator is proud to announce today a new metric that will be incredibly important for investors, customers, and fans of Salesforce.com everywhere: the SFDC Superlative Index™.Through the SFDC Superlative Index, we can now quantify the awesomeness of SFDC. We do this by counting the number of superlatives used by SFDC executives in their quarterly earnings calls and analyzing the changes in the use of these superlatives over time.Our proprietary list of superlatives currently includes the following: exciting, incredible, huge, amazing, outstanding, terrific, awesome, phenomenal, fantastic, tremendous, extraordinary, and spectacular. Superlatives per Quarter Reaches High Water MarkThese are fantastic days for SFDC, terrific days indeed. As shown in Figure 1, SFDC executives used tracked-superlatives 97 times in the firm's most recent quarter, the greatest number in the past five quarters.Analyzing superlatives that make up the SFDC Superlative Index provides deeper insights.Excitement is RisingSFDC executives are truly excited about the most recent quarter. As shown in Figure 2, we find that "excited/exciting" has now returned as the top superlative in the first quarter, after a sharp decline in the fourth quarter of FY 2016. CEO Marc Benioff reported that he as "really excited to be here, really excited for the first quarter" and he was "really excited" about raising the company's full year revenue guidance. "This kind of accelerated revenue growth [is] something that we’re very, very excited about," he later added. Benioff's excitement also extended to up-coming events, such as World Tour New York, which he said is already sold out. "So we’ll be excited to see you there," he added. He also said that he was "really excited to visit with all the Salesforce customers and developers who are coming Trailhead DX."But Benioff saved his greatest excitement for the upcoming Dreamforce conference in October."I know the bands that are playing. I know what’s going on and I’m [not] going to give you too much of that yet," he said. "I can just tell you it’s going to be the biggest and most exciting Dreamforce ever."COO, Keith Block, also shared Benioff's enthusiasm, especially about the firm's moves in Europe. "Obviously we’ve made investments with data centers in Europe which we’re very, very excited about, our customers are obviously excited about that," he said. Business is Beyond ExcitingAs shown in Figure 2, SFDC executives went even further in describing developments during the quarter, using words such as incredible (23 times), huge (16), amazing (8), and outstanding (5) to round out the top five superlatives.Early in the call, Benioff described the first quarter as the best that the firm has ever seen, "There is [sic] some incredible numbers you’re going to see including the cash flow number," he said. "We’re well positioned for another great year. This is amazing." Block confirmed Benioff's enthusiasm. "I mean, this is an incredible company with incredible people and an incredible set of products and customers," he said. Not only is SFDC incredible, SFDC customers are also incredible. For example, Benioff said, "Uber, one of the world’s great innovative companies, another expansion in the quarter, they’re an incredible innovator with off-the-chart growth." Regarding a new deal with Amazon in the quarter, Block said, "We love Amazon, we’ve got a great relationship with Amazon, they are a huge user of Salesforce and that certainly has been a huge part [of] this quarter as well."In describing the firm's Sales Cloud, Benioff let loose with a string of incredibles:"I mean we know that there is not just a cloud, there is not just a incredible cloud vision for Sales Cloud, not just incredible, social vision. You all know it has been built o[...]
2016-02-27T12:26:11.677-08:00Photo CreditOne of Deming’s 14 points for management was, “Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.” By this he meant that employees should not be afraid to point out problems, provide feedback, or make mistakes in an effort to improve. Business leaders should engage employees positively in continuous improvement.But when it comes to business leaders themselves, fear can be a powerful motivator. And, nowhere is a healthy fear more needed than in ERP implementation.It is difficult to think of a major project that is riskier for an organization than an ERP implementation. It ranks right up there with a major strategic merger or acquisition in terms of potential to disrupt the business. This is because an ERP implementation touches nearly every function of the business, nearly every business process, and nearly every employee. Although ERP systems involve computers, they are not IT projects: they are business change initiatives. Do it wrong, and you may find yourself as a case study on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. Hopes and FearsI recently co-led a half-day workshop for a large client in the manufacturing industry that is about to embark on a wholesale replacement of their aging ERP system. The participants were 18 of the firm’s business leaders. We covered the history and role of ERP, reasons for failure, lessons learned from successful implementations, typical processes most in need of improvement, and the roles and responsibilities of business users in the implementation.At the end of the workshop, we conducted a short exercise that I call, “Hopes and Fears.” We invited the participants to list the things that they hoped would result from the implementation. They responded with a variety of benefits, such as improved efficiency, lower inventory, better planning, and a more modern user experience.We then asked them to list the one thing they were most worried about, the thing they most feared as they looked forward to the implementation. Here the mood turned more serious as they expressed their fears, such as that they might not get enough training, that inventory might actually increase during the transition, that employees might not speak up when things weren’t going well, and that customer delivery schedules might be disrupted.But the one thing that worried this group the most was that they wouldn’t have the resources to get the implementation finished while still taking care of their regular duties. Would they have the bandwidth? We had told them that they had to put their best people on this project, but could they afford to do that? Where would they get additional personnel? The top executive in the room spoke up and assured the group that the company was ready to spend the money to make those resources available.At this point, I told them that I had accomplished my unspoken objective. My goal in conducting this workshop was to put some fear into them, as business leaders. Nothing concerns me more than when I see a company begin an ERP implementation thinking that it is no big deal, that they can delegate the project to the IT department, or to the system integrator. Or, thinking that they can treat an ERP implementation as just another project, like installing a new production line, or implementing a new safety program.Address Fears in Contingency PlanningHealthy fear can be a strong motivator in ERP implementation. At the same time, fear should not lead to paralysis, leading an organization to not move forward with new systems.The right response is to address each of those fears in the project plan, in the form of contingency planning.Are you afraid you won’t have sufficient resources? Allocate budget to hire additional resources to back-fill the regular responsibilities of project team members. Are you concerned that business users won’t adopt the new syste[...]
2015-10-03T08:19:53.410-07:00four ERP systems in the Salesforce ecosystem. This year, the annual Dreamforce conference gave me the opportunity to interview Rootstock executives and customers about the progress the firm has made over the past year.
2015-05-30T16:42:11.996-07:00(image) Oracle was hit by a customer lawsuit earlier this month in conjunction with its MICROS Systems business, which Oracle acquired in 2014.
2015-05-19T14:05:45.083-07:00Since the mid-1990s, it’s been easy to see how web commerce has disrupted many traditional business models. Early on, Amazon disrupted traditional bookstores, and Netflix disrupted video stores. More recently, Uber is disrupting the taxi industry, and AirBnB is threatening the traditional hospitality industry. But what’s not so apparent is how web commerce has become the great equalizer for small businesses. This is true in at least three ways. Market presence. Traditional marketing channels, such as broadcast media, print advertising, and direct mail, required substantial budgets. Today, a small supplier with a well-designed and well-functioning e-commerce website and good natural search results can rank right up there with major brands. Global reach. Prior to the commercialization of the Internet, it took substantial investment for a supplier to grow its business internationally. But today, even the smallest manufacturer can be found by prospects in overseas markets. Using international distributors and third-party logistics, small suppliers today can more easily serve buyers around the globe. Cost efficiency. Economies of scale still count in making and distributing physical products. But a well-functioning e-commerce site that is integrated with back-end systems, such as ERP, can cut costs for small suppliers. Combined with cloud systems on the back-end, small businesses can enjoy productivity gains from information systems without having to support a large IT staff. In other words, an entrepreneur with a business concept or a fresh product design can start a business and scale it in a way that was not easily done twenty years ago. Small Companies Acting Bigger In NetSuite's most recent user conference, CEO Zach Nelson touched briefly on this point. He said something to the effect that, with its integrated ERP and e-commerce capabilities, NetSuite was helping small companies act bigger. (He also said that it was equally important to help large companies act smaller, but that’s a thought for another post). I made a note of Nelson’s remarks, and didn’t think much about them until I attended a reception for press and industry analysts later that evening. There, I found myself chatting with John Baker (CEO) and Alan Blackford (COO) of Thos. Baker, a supplier of outdoor furniture. They told me that NetSuite was working on a video about their business. After the reception, Baker sent me the pre-publication video link and I found it an inspiring story. In the video, Baker tells how he had been commuting to his tech industry job in Seattle for many years, but he aspired to do something interesting that would allow him to work close to his family on Bainbridge Island. So, he started his outdoor furniture business to combine his interest in technology with his interest in design.Baker points out that setting up web commerce for this sort of business is quite complex. His operational strategy makes extensive use of outsourced manufacturing, with furniture frames stocked in the warehouse on Bainbridge Island, the cushions from a supplier in Alabama, the umbrellas from California, the fire pits from Tennessee. Though the supply chain is complex, but the integrated system allows the firm to appear to its customers as if it were a much large company. When we are talking to our customers, they are comparing us to companies that are somewhere between 40 to 400 times our size,” he said. Click the image below to watch the video. It’s a promotional video for NetSuite, of course. But it’s an inspiring story[...]
2015-03-20T13:21:09.433-07:00ERP or CRM vendor selection, a business process improvement project, or various types of IT assessments. Our consultants still do those types of projects, of course.
Long-term economic and technology trends are creating new challenges for IT financial management. These trends include the declining cost of hardware, the shift in the spending mix to software and ongoing support, the use of contingency workers, the outsourcing of IT services, the impact of cloud computing, and the increase in IT spending outside the IT budget. Based on over 25 years of research, this presentation will outline the impact of these long term trends and provide practical recommendations to take advantage of them.My presentation will be on Best Practices for Benchmarking Your IT Budget. Here's the abstract:
Benchmarking is a popular way for IT organizations to justify their IT budgets and focus their efforts for continuous improvement. But CIOs are often unhappy with or question the validity of the results. Based on benchmarking exercises with clients over the past decade, this session will outline three complementary approaches to benchmarking. Best practices will be described for defining peer groups, selecting key metrics, understanding variations by industry and organization size, analyzing gaps, and translating findings into actions.Registration details are on the ITFMA website.
2015-04-19T12:04:50.256-07:00When an organization decides to look for a new ERP system, consultants and vendors often refer to that effort as an "ERP selection project." Sometimes they will refer to it as ERP vendor selection, or an ERP vendor evaluation, but the idea is the same. I've been advising companies on ERP selection since 1989, and my consulting firm Strativa has been doing ERP selection consulting since 2000. After many such projects, I've come to the conclusion that the whole process is misnamed. Why? Because referring to the effort as an ERP vendor selection project makes the choosing the right system the primary objective. Does this mean that it's not important for an organization to select the right system or the right vendor? Of course not. But picking the right vendor is only a small part of what organizations need in these projects.What Organizations Need in ERP Selection ProjectsSo what should ERP selection projects include, in addition to ERP vendor selection? Here are a few critical needs: Forming a team. I'm always concerned when the ERP selection decision is driven primarily by the IT organization. Part of the ERP selection effort has to be to to draft key leaders from the business side of the organization. Gaining executive sponsorship. ERP selection is a major business change initiative. Without executive sponsorship, the project will go nowhere. An early activity, therefore, is to ensure that top management is behind the effort. Business and IT strategy. Many ERP selections arise from organizations changing their business model, acquiring new lines of business, or expanding into new markets. To provide context, ERP selection should start with a review of the current and future business strategy and how IT is aligned to support it. Applications systems road map. Many of our clients have dozens of systems in addition to ERP, and many of them are connected to the ERP system. Should those systems stay or go? Most organizations would do well to first address the entire portfolio of applications and lay out a strategic road map to understand the impact of a new ERP system. Application platform decision. Will the new ERP system be deployed on-premises, be hosted by a service provider, or will it be a true cloud system? The choice here will also have implications for the applications road map. IT organizational impact. Does the current IT organization have the needed skills to support the future applications road map, including the new ERP system? If not, what new skill are needed and how should the IT staff be organized? Many of our ERP selection projects include side projects for skills acquisition. Defining key requirements. It goes without saying, if you don't know what makes your business different from others, or what makes software vendors different from one another, it's difficult to pick the right system. Defining key issues should precede creation of the vendor short list. Unbiased evaluation of current ERP system. Sometimes insiders, being so familiar with the shortcomings of the organization's existing ERP system, assume that a new system is the only solution. In our ERP vendor selection consulting, however, we find a small percentage of projects where the current system is the best choice, perhaps with a version upgrade. A truly independent ERP selection consultant will include the current system for considerati[...]