Facebook adds to its success as a leading medium for online advertisers

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthA couple of articles published recently point to further gains by Facebook as a leader in the media market for online advertisers. The first of these, titled Why Google Should Fear Facebook’s New Product Ads, which was written by Garrett Stone and published on the AdWeek web site, reports on some comments from Tamara Gaffney, who is a Principal Analyst at Adobe Digital Index, about Facebook’s decision to debut a product ad offer.

The key takeaway, for me, in Gaffney’s comments was the ranking she gave to Facebook’s analytics: “Facebook has the best targeting capabilities”. If this is truly the case, then it should not be much of a stretch (for anyone interested in just how organizations of all types can capture the highest value from online content publishing) to see the diamonds to be had from online chatter. This kind of press should provide further incentive to stakeholders in enterprise technology to work harder to refine so-called “big data” methods of containing, and then analyzing both text and binary data.

The second article appeared in Direct Marketing News. The title of this one is Salesforce Becomes Facebook Marketing Partner and is written by Al Urbanski, a Senior Editor for the publication. The significance of a decision of this magnitude by Salesforce should not be underestimated. If they see a much better opportunity mining online chatter from Facebook pages (in complete conformance with what look to be very high standards at Facebook Marketing Partners) and leveraging the other features of the program, at the same time, then Facebook is likely onto something big.

One more point on the comments made by Gaffney from Adobe Digital Index: If Facebook truly “has the best targeting capabilities”, then the social media architecture underpinning its online presentation is very likely to be a key contributor to its success. Somehow Google + is not hitting the mark. This lesson is not likely to be lost, once again, on enterprise computing stakeholders looking to incorporate “big data” and unstructured text data into the information they target for analysis.

Perhaps another entity listening to these messages is Facebook, itself. Why else would they throw substantial resources behind their own Facebook at Work, enterprise social computing effort?

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2015 All Rights Reserved


Is Salesforce.com in the cross hairs as mature ISVs jump into the customer data and analytics markets?

Salesforce.com acquired ExactTarget in 2013. Arguably, ExactTarget can produce a comparable quality of customer data to Facebook, or the just announced IBM Twitter partnership. But as Marc Benioff, CEO remarked during Salesforce.com’s Q2 2015 Earnings Conference call, Salesforce.com is an enterprise cloud business.

We’ve written at length in this blog on the unique character of enterprise business markets for computer hardware, software (including cloud), and networking. As Benioff noted during a joint presentation with Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, to announce the addition of Salesforce.com as a supported CRM option for Microsoft’s Office 365 customers, Microsoft, itself, is one of Salesforce’s largest customers for ExactTarget services.

But servicing the needs of businesses marketing non durable commodities to consumers is a very different story, which Facebook seems to be winning. Salesforce’s growth rate, at 38% year over year is enviable, but Facebook’s year over year growth rate of nearly 60% is a lot better. Would it make sense for a stagnant mature ISV named IBM, desperate for some big growth, to see an opening to bring ExactTarget-like capabilities to a different market?

IBM certainly has a presence in every leading marketing business in the US and Western Europe. As a trusted partner of Ogilvy and Mather, Forbes, etc. a partnership with Twitter, which promises to provide them with a very unique set of data collected from Twitter’s “fire hose” to be fed into their Watson analytics solution looks very promising.

Salesforce, on the other hand, with Keith Block, an exceptionally capable sales and marketing executive for enterprise business markets, as President, looks clearly dedicated to signing up more enormous businesses like Microsoft. One can certainly argue the very large marketing businesses IBM presently services (and, in turn, the manufacturing and service-providing customers of these marketing firms like Procter and Gamble) fit the bill for legitimate Salesforce targets, but in this writer’s opinion it isn’t likely the way they are leveraging ExactTarget will meet the needs of Omnicom, etc for the consumer non durable goods market. This writer spent a lot of time with IBM from 1994 to 2001 and can speak to what was then a deep, strategic relationship with Ogilvy, Forbes, and others.

So the ExactTarget capability does look like something a mature ISV like IBM would want to repackage for its own, and very different set of consumers.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved


Putting Larry Ellison’s New Role at Oracle in Perspective

Larry Ellison announced his decision, on September 18, 2014, to step down from the position of CEO Oracle. A lot has been written about the significance of this announcement. But content volume doesn’t mean much when compared to relevance, not to mention accuracy.

The general consensus is Ellison’s change in roles marks the end of an era. Ellison is the last of a list of “first generation” entrepreneurs (including Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs). Regardless of the enormous success all three of these individuals achieved, both Ellison and Gates have been included in what the overall market considers a group of once successful, but, in 2014, out-of-touch business builders. The argument goes like this: Ellison and Gates were great in their time, but times have changed and, now, the massive organizations they built, Oracle and Microsoft, are losing enormous ground to much younger competitors, (Amazon, Facebook, Salesforce.com). This latter group includes Apple, which, despite being a business with the same longevity of serving consumer markets for technology as both Oracle and Microsoft, nevertheless, speaks a different tongue, learned from its radical founder, Steve Jobs.

This argument looks good on paper, but in reality is way off the market. Leaving aside the question of whether or not Microsoft has been eclipsed by Google, Salesforce, Amazon, and even Apple, Oracle does not fit the frame.

As this writer wrote earlier to this blog on a couple of occasions, a lot of the sales effort for Salesforce.com, Microsoft, and Google is now in the management hands of 3 former Oracle sales executives: Keith Block is now the President of Salesforce.com; Judson Althoff is now Corporate Vice President and President of Microsoft, NA; finally, Amit Singh is now the President of Google At Work.

All 3 of these executives held very high level positions at Oracle: when Block left Oracle he held the position of Executive Vice President, North America. Singh appears to have reported into Block as Vice President, North America. Althoff held the position of Vice President, head of channel sales for Oracle.

The importance of this point is to illustrate the actual enormous impact Ellison and Oracle have had on the whole software market for enterprise business customers. Oracle set the bar at a very high level. Their sales team, perhaps better than any other, understood how to implement a complex sales strategy, and had a better history of converting sales efforts into successful deals than any other.

The fact Block is now President of Salesforce.com should act as a reminder on the limitations of “hands-off” selling of cloud subscriptions, and the need for direct engagement (collaboration is a better word) with customers if further sales are to be made.

Ellison had an enormous impact on his peers. It is important to note his new role at Oracle: CTO and head of product marketing. As we have written all along in this blog, product marketing is truly the neighborhood where the real tech winners show their stuff. Perhaps Ellison has something further to show us all. We’ll see as Oracle moves forward.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved


Are Business Tech Consumers Likely to Adopt Cloud Computing for High Use, High Value Applications?

Analysts following cloud computing may want to include a “usefulness” factor into their assessment of how users are adopting these new computing trends. Early examples of how high value applications perform, when clients are located remotely from terminals and screens may not be as promising as one would otherwise expect.

We maintain an Office 365, Enterprise Edition subscription. Once we learned of the “1 TB of OneDrive storage coming to an Office 365 near you” offer from Microsoft, which provides any/all subscribers to Office 365 1 TB of storage, at no additional charge, we decided to back off of using an on premises Linux storage repository and move all of the active, daily storage we need to this OneDrive for Business cloud offer.

Unfortunately, when users are consuming office productivity applications like Word, Excel, or PowerPoint from the Office Professional Plus suite included with an Office 365 enterprise plan, the bi-directional communication required between desktop, remote client, and remote storage can (and in our case does) create a rather unsatisfactory daily computing experience which average users may not be willing to adopt.

Despite maintaining a high-speed fiber optic data connection with the WAN, we are experiencing 10-30 sec latency, literally 100s of times a day, as we create or edit documents which are stored in our OneDrive for Business repository. When the applications subject to this experience were limited to email and browsing web pages, this time drain didn’t amount to much and, therefore, was tolerable for our users. But when high value applications take on the same characteristics, it may not be easy for the “average” business technology consumer to accommodate the experience.

It would seem the same type of procedure is required of businesses using Google Apps for business, especially where the desktop hardware are Chromebooks. This writer thinks resellers like BestBuy opted to “pre-warn” consumers about the unique “flavor” of cloud-intensive computing as the results of a heavy rate of product returns from dissatisfied consumers (caveat: we have no hard statistics on this point, but still note introductory material designed to help consumers “learn more about Chromebooks” before they actually purchase one on BestBuy’s web site).

Bottom line: over time we think a substantial segment of consumers will be reluctant to adopt pure cloud computing for high value applications.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved


Is Salesforce.com Destined to Become a Cloud Version of BMC’s Remedy?

For all of the analysis and chatter coming out of Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce 2013 annual event, is it safe to say the bright hope on the horizon for Salesforce.com is to evolve into a cloud version of a help desk application like BMC’s Remedy?

After reading three articles on Marc Benioff’s Keynote address at the annual Dreamforce event held yesterday, Tuesday, November 19, 2013 in San Francisco, I’m left with no other conclusion. In an article titled Salesforce’s Marc Benioff Bets on Customer Service to Fuel Growth, Rachel King writes “Mr. Benioff used his keynote stage time to push the so-called Internet of Customers – what everyone else calls customer service.”

Ms. King, of course, is being kind to Mr. Benioff. “[W]hat everyone else calls customer service” is clearly understatement. Embedding customer service inside a mysterious concept called an “Internet of Customers” is nothing but pure hyperbole.

BMC’s Remedy Help Desk application is still one of the leading software solutions for customer service. As to why any business would opt to pay the much higher costs charged by Salesforce.com for, essentially, the same functionality as presently offered by Remedy, remains to be seen.

Clearly Mr. Benioff had Cisco’s notion of an “Internet of Things” in mind when he crafted his “Internet of Customers” concept. But I see no more rationale for any business to buy Salesforce.com’s “Salesforce 1” than I do for any business to buy into Cisco’s concept. Modern process control technology provides most businesses, today, with lots of methods of enabling devices, and even processes, with real time data communications capabilities over Ethernet. So there is no need to wait for some glorious “Internet of Things” to be built out.

I remember when machine information block (MIB) technology was first implemented with Hewlett Packard’s OpenView enterprise asset management and monitoring package. The Remedy Help Desk application was configurable for real time, seamless data communications with any business assets outfitted with a MIB. All of this happened back in 1992.

So what’s the big deal to hear all the capabilities regurgitated in 2013, merely an approximate 20 years later, by Mr. Benioff. “[EXPLETIVE] if I know.”

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved