Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Empty Promises and Tough Luck: Yankee Group Exposes the Cloud's Fine Print

Caveat emptor: These watchwords must guide enterprises considering cloud computing services. According to the Yankee Group report "Cloud 99.99: The Small Print Exposed," today's cloud contracts are rife with disclaimers, misleading uptime guarantees, and questionable privacy policies and compliance claims.

The report examines terms of service (TOS), service-level agreements (SLAs) and privacy policies for 46 software-, infrastructure- and platform-as-a-service (SaaS/IaaS/PaaS) offerings from 41 vendors, including industry heavyweights like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Rackspace.

Overall, the results aren't pretty. Of the 46 services studied, none offers a cash payout as standard compensation for breaking contractual promises. Typically, customers must make do with service credits or contract termination.

The report, which also offers key risk mitigation tactics, urges enterprises to watch for:

-- Slippery SLAs: Whatever the number of 9s offered, "uptime" definitions vary, and service demarcation points for uptime are rarely end to end. Vendors also tend to play fast and loose with scheduled maintenance windows.

-- Cagey compliance: SAS-70-certification is not a blanket guarantee of safety or survivability. Enterprises should also seek ISO 27000 credentials, and check vendor adequacy against international data protection regulations.

-- Self-serving metrics: Beware vendors acting as both judge and jury in determining service performance. The use of third-party performance monitoring tools must become table stakes for credibility.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Worldwide Business Intelligence, Analytics and Performance Management Software Market Grew 4 Percent in 2009

Worldwide business intelligence (BI) platform, analytic applications and performance management (PM) software revenue surpassed $9.3 billion in 2009, a 4.2 percent increase from 2008 revenue of $8.9 billion, according to Gartner, Inc.

The top five vendors continued to make up most of the market with 71 percent market share. SAP was the No. 1 vendor in combined worldwide BI, analytics and PM software revenue in 2009, accounting for 22 percent of the market, followed by Oracle, SAS Institute, IBM and Microsoft. Looking at the subsegments of BI, there were different market share leaders. In BI platforms, SAP continued to maintain the lead. In the area of corporate performance management (CPM), Oracle maintained its leadership with the former Hyperion portfolio, while SAS remained the leader in analytic applications and PM. In all three areas, IBM has emerged as a strong challenger with its services-led offering, showing above market growth and strengthening its positions during 2009. Microsoft also continues to gain users by embedding BI functionality in their wider Microsoft environments.

All three subsegments of BI showed growth. BI platforms showed slightly stronger growth than CPM suites and analytic applications and PM, excluding CPM.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Marketing Spending by High Tech and Telecom Providers Will Increase in 2010

Marketing spending among high-tech and telecom providers (HTTPs) is picking up in 2010, according to a survey by Gartner, Inc. The survey found that 44 percent of 2010 HTTP marketing budgets will be flat compared with 2009, 41 percent will increase and only 15 percent are likely to decrease. This compares favorably to 2009 when more than half of providers' marketing organizations took cuts in their budgets compared to 2008.

While there are signs of growth in IT spending in 2010, Gartner analysts have predicted a "new normal" in which IT buyers who were forced to rethink the entirety of their spending approach because of the economy may never return to their prerecession ways. This will impact how HTTPs market to end users.

The survey found that some companies making marketing budget increases plan significant rises. Thirty percent of these companies expect to increase budgets by between 1 and 15 percent, while 13 percent of respondents are planning budget increases of between 16 and 30 percent or more. For those companies planning an increase in budgets, sales programs to support the direct sales force as well as programs supporting positioning and external communications are key priorities. Following those are customer segmentation, strategic marketing, management of marketing efforts and sales programs to support indirect sales.

Even though the ratio of in-house to external spending is planned to be about 1:3 in 2010, fixed and recurring costs are expected to consume the largest portion (23 percent) of the 2010 marketing budget, according to the majority of respondents. That will be followed by sales channel marketing and programs at 17 percent, and 15 percent of respondents identified positioning and external marketing communications.

When asked how they allocated their marketing communications budget, 22 percent of respondents said that events will receive the highest percentage of spending, 16 percent of those surveyed identified advertising, and 11 percent of respondents selected direct mail.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Digital Marketing Driving Transformation in Global Marketing Organizations

Watch out if you're a traditional ad agency with a limited suite of standardized creative and media services. You're likely to have less budget, control and influence with your client. According to the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council's latest State of Marketing Report, corporate marketers expect to become less dependent on agencies and more self-sufficient with their own internal digital marketing infrastructures, talents and go-to-market capabilities.

Investing in digital demand generation and online relationship building ranks among the top initiatives being taken to maximize the impact and value of marketing in 2010, reported 46 percent of those surveyed. Another 38 percent say they are exploring alternative media and new routes to market, while 62 percent will be crunching customer data to improve segmentation and targeting. Most of this will be done in-house or by specialist firms and outsourced service providers in the digital marketing and customer analytics space.

In addition, some 35 percent of marketers expect to initiate or undertake transformational marketing projects to improve go-to-market effectiveness in 2010. Another 19 percent say this is under consideration, and 8 percent report this has been proposed but not approved. Most common among the projects to be undertaken are:

* Digital marketing makeover -- platforms, programs people (46 percent)
* Sales and marketing organizational alignment (40 percent)
* Customer data integration and analytics (32 percent)
* Marketing performance measurement (31 percent)
* Lead qualification and harvesting system (28 percent)
* Reorganization of marketing group (28 percent)

Attesting to the growing shift to digital modes of engagement, 59 percent of marketers are looking to train and develop existing staff, 40 percent are adding or expanding digital marketing agency support, and 36 percent expect to bring in new talent resources to their organizations. Underscoring this, 72 percent of marketers anticipate no headcount reductions as they re-skill staff, and 18 percent expect to review web design and development resources. This compares to just eight percent who plan to do ad agency reviews, an all-time low, as marketer attention moves to the digital realm.

When marketers were asked to rate their online marketing performance capability, only 6 percent responded excellent. The majority (44 percent) report they are either growing their capabilities, or struggling to quantify the value of online marketing spend. A further 15 percent say their ability to convert site visits to customer leads is deficient. In reviewing where digital marketing dollars are likely to be directed, 65 percent of respondents said they were evaluating investments in new social media and online communities, 44 percent in Internet media channels, 33 percent in mobile messaging, and 31 percent in new methods of online content delivery.

Management requirements for greater top-line growth in 2010 are reflected in how demand generation, sales support and advertising dollars are being directed. Largest shares are being allocated to database marketing (12.5 percent), sales collateral/literature (12 percent), trade shows and conferences (11.5 percent), and online advertising (7 percent). In contrast to 2009, most marketers are seeing their media budgets stay the same or increase slightly by five percent. Larger gains of over five percent are reflected in interactive/web marketing, social media, search marketing, SEO, and mobile communications areas.

More information on CRM can be found at

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Gartner Outlines Three Steps to Create a Successful CRM Strategy

Building a customer relationship management (CRM) strategy is a unique process for each organization that nevertheless should always involve three key steps, according to Gartner, Inc. The three steps needed to create a successful CRM strategy are: setting the destination; auditing the current situation; and mapping the journey to the destination.

  • Set the destination: The vision of the company and the goals derived from this vision are the intended destination of the CRM strategy. The vision will be heavily dependent on the leadership of the company and on the selected CRM strategy.

  • Audit the current situation: Skills, resources, competitors, partners and customers all need to be consulted in assessing the starting point. Before beginning the CRM initiative, organizations need to identify how mature their existing approach to CRM is. Most organizations have some existing or past attempt at CRM; even if these were deemed failures, there are usually some foundations that can be leveraged rather than ignored by the new team.

  • Map the journey: The journey may take many years, and the map will change en route. It is important to plan for this before starting.

  • A CRM strategy explains how an organization will achieve the CRM vision. It is the integrated blueprint for how the organization will achieve its sales, marketing and customer service goals. Therefore, it must give quantitative answers to questions such as: What is the ideal customer base? What products or services is it going to sell, to whom, at what price and through which channels? However, it must also be able to give much more subjective answers to more-holistic, organization-wide questions such as: What is the best way to build customer loyalty? How will the organization connect with a customer to create a positive "gut feel"? What will drive customers to recommend the organization, brand and products to others more often to the point that they are willing to pay a premium price?

    More information in CRM can be found at

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    30 Percent of Consumers Use More Than Three Commerce Channels

    ATG, a provider of commerce solutions, announced the results of a consumer survey that was deployed to analyze how consumers use various channels as they research product and service options, and make purchases. The cross-channel shopping survey also asked consumers about their researching and purchasing experiences when using different channels.

    The survey found that more than three-quarters of consumers use two or more channels and nearly one-third use three or more channels to browse, research and purchase products. The findings also identified an opportunity for merchants to increase online sales and improve contact center efficiency by offering more information on the Web. The survey results highlight an evolving role for the emerging mobile channel and more traditional catalog channels, and point to opportunities for e-mail marketing and the incorporation of social media into consumers' online commerce activities.

    The highlights of consumers' cross channel experiences include:

    -- 78% said they use two or more channels to browse, research and make purchases; 30% said they use three channels or more

    -- 43% said they start their research online or through a mobile device, but then need to call a customer service or call center representative to complete the transaction because the necessary product or service information cannot be found online

    -- 39% said they browse via the online or mobile channel and then make purchases in the store because they prefer to touch and feel the product; 36% said do this to compare several brands of the same product

    -- 78% of all consumers say they use catalogs to browse and research products or services at least four times a year

    In addition to looking at consumers' use of computers and customer service representatives as a means to gain more information about or to complete the purchase of a product or service, the survey also uncovered interesting data about mobile commerce, with an emphasis on the 18-34 age bracket. Overall results found that:

    -- 27% of all consumers 18 and older use their mobile devices to browse or research products and services at least four times a year, and that number jumps to 41% for the 18-34 year-old age group

    -- When it comes to making purchases, 13% of all consumers 18 and older are doing this on their mobile devices at least four times a year; 23% of the 18-34 age group are doing this at least four times a year and 8% are doing it weekly

    The survey results also uncovered a need for more awareness around the incorporation of commerce activities in social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter.

    More information on CRM can be found at

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010

    Confidence In SaaS Increases By 62% Amongst SMEs

    A recent survey conducted by Really Simple Systems, the UK's largest hosted CRM vendor, has revealed that small and medium sized enterprises are embracing hosted applications at a faster rate than ever. The annual survey questions SME business owners, directors, sales, marketing and IT managers, on their views of SaaS and the reliability of the products currently available in the market.

    From a sample of 466 respondents, the majority from small and medium sized organizations with less than 50 employees, 62 percent report increased confidence in hosted applications between March 2009 and March 2010. This is mirrored by the 62 percent who agreed that hosted applications had been made a more attractive proposition by the current state of the economy.

    The survey confirmed that hosted CRM continues to outshine ERP, Payroll, HR and Manufacturing as the preferred SaaS offering for SMEs. ERP, Payroll, HR and Manufacturing offerings have improved their penetration in the SME market but continue to lag behind. 67 percent of respondents reported that they are confident in hosted CRM with 41 percent actively using hosted CRM applications. Hosted ERP trails behind CRM with only 13 percent of respondents using ERP SaaS applications and only 39 percent reporting confidence in hosted ERP applications.

    Hosted CRM has almost completely caught up with in-house CRM for SMEs, with 41 percent of respondents now using hosted applications as opposed to 42 percent using in-house CRM.

    Outsourced CRM systems continue to prove unpopular with only 2.6 percent of respondents opting for this option and the number of respondents not using any CRM system stands at 14 percent, a one percent drop from the same time last year.

    The survey also revealed that almost half of respondents feel as confident about the reliability, speed, data safety, and functionality of SaaS applications as they do with in-house offerings. This is indicative of the now almost identical usage of hosted and in-house CRM.

    Furthermore, the research also showed that 37% of those questioned planned to spend more on IT in the next 12 months than they had done compared with the last 12 months.

    More information on CRM can be found at