Salesforce/ExactTarget is about to shake up the digital marketing and analytics space

Some pretty interesting news came out of the Salesforce/ExactTarget Connections event in Indianapolis the other week.

sfdc

The first, nearest and dearest to my own heart, was the announcement of new web and mobile analytics features in the “ExactTarget Marketing Cloud,” as well as new enhancements to the Journey Builder application, which uses Salesforce CRM data to personalize mobile application experiences. Interestingly, SFDC/ET has chosen not to brand their digital analytics module. It’s simply an “embedded” (read: standard) feature in the ET Marketing Cloud. Analytics, once again, as table stakes to the marketing platform.

The second, and potentially more groundbreaking, item was less of a formal announcement than it was a clever form of “leak” from Marc Benioff via Twitter:

There on Wednesday, October 15th, the first major product keynote of Dreamforce 2014 is titled “Analytics Cloud Keynote.” Yep – Salesforce is about to (formally) get into the analytics business.

These developments are directly related, and aimed squarely at incumbents like Adobe, IBM and Google (in different ways).

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Some real talk on the question: “Should I get an MBA?”

Recently, I’ve been asked for career advice from a couple of undergraduates and recent grads who are interested in technology and analytics. I’m always happy to talk with these folks – it wasn’t so long since I was in their shoes, and in the years since, I’ve enjoyed the benefit of some very generous professionals who were happy to share their experience and career advice with me. I believe it’s very important to pass the favor forward.

MBA

One big question that I hear a lot is: should I get an MBA? (Sometimes, another graduate school program is mentioned, but the MBA is far and away the most frequent.) If so, when? And from what school? Do I have any tips or advice for getting into School X?

There are any number of viewpoints on this question: myriad online MBA applicant forums, recruiting networks, and a whole cottage industry of application and GMAT consultants (not to mention the test prep textbooks). I am, of course, not a part of any of those, and as such hold a relatively contrarian view of the grad school question.

Nevertheless, my advice comes down to a supremely unsatisfying: it depends. A person’s suitability for an MBA program depends on a lot of factors which I’ll try to outline in this post. Here goes.

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Scaling social, and the future of the social web

Sometime over the summer, Facebook officially surpassed IBM in market capitalization:

market cap

I’ve been thinking about this rather momentous shift in market value for a while now. There are interesting business dynamics behind it, which I’ll address in a moment; but what I’m particularly fascinated by is how the surge in market valuation of this (very) young company reflects the rapid maturation, and bright promise, of the social web itself.

It’s increasingly clear that the consumer web of the future is being built around what we today call “social” frameworks. This is being driven by two key trends:

  1. Changing user behavior that builds on the network effects that social platforms encourage; e.g. as more and more of my friends and family adopt Facebook as a central node for communication/coordination/sharing, I too communicate/share more; and
  2. The steady increase in new users, across diverse markets, quarter on quarter.

This is key to the major social companies’ strategy to create virtuous cycles within peer groups: capture more new users, offer them appealing new services (all free!), and get those users to “engage,” which exerts greater pressure on the rest of the peer network to also join the service. There is abundant evidence that this strategy is working (though certainly more for some companies than others)

As social scales, in both terms of “breadth” (market penetration) and “depth” (pervasiveness into the web experience), how will it change? And what does this suggest about the social web just a few years away?

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Apple Pay – and the missing link in mobile payments

apple payWhat Apple unveiled at their big September 9th event was, without hyperbole, revolutionary. I’m not talking about the watch (I remain a skeptic there). I mean Apple Pay, the company’s new mobile payments service.

Let me go on record: Apple Pay is a big, huge deal. Most of the early reviews/criticism have focused primarily on its applications for in-store purchases (and indeed, Tim Cook cited big retailers like Disney, Macy’s, McDonald’s, Whole Foods and, of course, Apple itself as examples), but the real implications – and biggest value – of Apple Pay actually go much, much further than that.

Apple Pay really represents Apple’s strongest move yet into online commerce and identity brokerage. It’s a sharp elbow in the ribs of Google and Facebook (in different ways), and a beautiful example of some of the smartest strategy in the industry. It’s also a clear call to action for merchants and marketers: true mobile commerce is nearly here. Start getting ready. Now.

More after the jump.

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How SaaS is driving remote working

punchI recently wrote a post about how SaaS and mobile technology have completely changed the landscape for enterprise productivity. It’s just another example of how “software is eating the world” – in that case, untethering the means of “doing work” from traditional modalities (like a perpetual license OS and hardware stack). What I want to talk about today is how we’ve effectively untethered productivity not only from how it used to be done, but also, increasingly, where.

In the last several years, we’ve seen tremendous growth in cloud-based productivity software: everything from CRM to marketing tech to bread-and-butter tools like word processing and spreadsheets. This is opening up new use cases that just weren’t possible before, driving prices down, and drastically changing the way many organizations collaborate. But it has also had another effect whose impact has just begun: changing the way companies think about localized office environments, versus remote working.

In the same way that industrial-era concepts like “punching the time card” or “being on your lunch break” don’t really fit the reality of the world many of us live in today, the traditional office-worker model is quickly tracking towards obsolescence. The arguments for it are mostly driven by executives’ traditional cultural choices rather than business requirements – not unlike wearing a suit and tie to the office used to be. In the same way, I believe we’re living in the twilight days of the centralized office working model.

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