Today is a very exciting day for FirstRain, as we accomplish yet another important milestone in delivering groundbreaking intelligence solutions to our customers. This morning we’re announcing the launch of the first ever Enterprise Customer Intelligence System.
The news today is the release of our new workflow and integration system that lets you use FirstRain intelligence on your customers and market wherever you are: it doesn’t matter if you’re on the road, at a customer site, on your iPads (see the FirstRain iPad App in action here), iPhones or Android phones, via email, or integrated directly into company CRMs or social enterprise portals such as Salesforce.com, Jive or Microsoft SharePoint - it’s all easy now.
We are seeing two huge waves of change impacting sales and marketing teams today: the introduction of Social Enterprise platforms and the iPad, which over 90% of the Fortune 500 are deploying or evaluating right now. Our new solution is intended to make it easy for you to use FirstRain seamlessly in your new workflows and so grow your revenue and market share.
This new system is an extension of the powerful semantic analytics technology you may already be using, but now it’s an end-to-end integrated solution for highly personalized, yet easily managed, customer intelligence across your entire enterprise. This is the information that customers like you already rely upon to continuously stay aware of the critical developments that impact revenue growth and renewal in your business—it’s what we call Enterprise Customer Intelligence (ECI).
We’ve been working on this version of the system for over 2 years – first we went after the quality of the customer and market intelligence our customers are already using – and now we have released the workflow to match your enterprise. We have developed it in collaboration with many of our leading enterprise customers in technology, communications, life sciences, materials and financial services.
If you’re one of the customers who has helped us develop and hone this exciting innovation, thank you! And if you’re one who has not yet had the opportunity to see how our new ECI System can help your organization get even more out of the great FirstRain intelligence you receive today, please, drop me a line.
Social networking is the topic du jour. Facebook is going public at a gazillion dollar valuation; Jive market cap jumped 30% in the past few weeks because their charismatic CEO, Tony Zingale, got Barrons to say they are Facebook for the enterprise.
And no question, companies are deploying enterprise collaboration platforms fast, trying to keep up with the need for information sharing. One customer – a CIO – told me “we don’t know why but we’re going to do it anyway!”.
Given all this frenzy I was pleased to see a sensible report published last week on the business case for ESN – Enterprise Social Networks – written by Charlene Li and published by Altimeter. It’s full of advice on how to think about your deployment and your ROI.
We see a smorgasbord of options at our customers – some have SFDC (Salesforce CRM and sometimes Chatter), some have SFDC and Jive, some have Microsoft and Yammer, some have 3 or 4 around the globe – you name it, we see the mix. Some departments like one, some like the other, sometimes global likes one and the US likes another. It’s definitely a challenge. We have the advantage that because of our architecture we can easily integrate our customer intelligence into all, but I feel for the IT teams trying to administer so many choices.
This chart is the answer to “what is your primary enterprise networking solution?” across 77 companies who could only answer one.
Source: Altimeter report Making the Case for Enterprise Social Networks Feb 2012
But as the Altimeter report explains – workflow is the key issue. ESNs do encourage sharing – critical when you have a global sales team working on a global customer. They do capture knowledge, especially tribal knowledge about how the customer’s requirements are developing and how the market is impacting them. We get feedback all the time that our customer intelligence, integrated into Chatter and Jive, helps the sales team be smarter about what’s happening in their customer’s market.
The 3rd value an ESN brings is helping your sales team take action because they can find solutions faster by collaborating, then of course in the end an ESN is empowering when it is working well because your sales team has a voice (although what sales team doesn’t!).
Enterprise collaboration is on a roll right now. It’s good to see analysts helping IT teams cut through the chatter (pun intended) and evaluate the business value of their choices.
There is a world of difference between news aggregators like Google News, Moreover and Meltwaterand a true customer intelligence system like FirstRain. All have the ability to deliver some news from the Web but the similarity ends there. Keyword-based news is OK if you want a simple cut of everything, but they are absolutely insufficient if you want your enterprise sales team to drive revenue by deeply understanding their customer’s business.
An enterprise customer intelligence system like FirstRain:
1. Uses semantic analysis to categorize all content (Web, social media, etc.) to a high degree of specificity—well beyond the specificity possible with keywords. For example: Using analytics, FirstRain can track and filter on topics as specific as “Diabetic Nephropathy”, “Enterprise Telecom Services Market” and “Solar Energy Farms Capacity Expansion”, which means the sales team will receive customer intelligence with a much higher degree of relevance than any other solution.
2. Searches the global Web, identifying and extracting only business-focused content (including news, press releases, company Web sites, government filings, industry sources, blogs and much more), while filtering out the consumer, entertainment and other noisy content routinely delivered by Google Alerts and news aggregators. This filtering has many layers to it—at the source, content and model levels—to ensure that only high quality business content makes it through to the end user.
3. Prioritizes all content using multi-factoral algorithms that push the most significant intelligence to the top (based on the user’s own workflow at the time), then de-duplicating it so you only see each important development once, all greatly improving the relevancy of the intelligence each user sees. This saves time and money for enterprise sales and customer marketing teams, eliminating the hours spent combing through search results (and often still missing key developments), and reducing it to seconds reviewing only the most important developments impacting their customers and their customers’ business
4. Delivers this highly personalized content wherever and however the team needs it: on their iPad, iPhone, Android device, directly into the social enterprise portal or CRM, or simply via a daily email intelligence brief. FirstRain’s apps allow the sales and marketing team to collaborate using this powerful customer intelligence database quickly and easily from any device, at any time, all integrated into their own daily workflow.
The patented technology that goes into the creation of this enterprise customer intelligence system is the result of years of algorithm development, customer collaboration and fine tuning—and it’s why most vendors of basic Web content can’t match it. But it’s these differentiators that are helping FirstRain deliver our users the kind of customer intelligence that actually grows and renews revenue in their businesses.
The most exciting development in the Enterprise today is not, as Salesforce and Jive would have you believe, “social networking for business” but the not-so-stealthy explosion of the iPad as a productivity tool.
We see dramatic deployments every day, especially into the enterprise sales and customer marketing teams which are the teams we work with most often. Eric Lal of ZDNet keeps a site updated with iPad pilots — often documenting large company decisions we have already seen on the ground — thousands at a time!
Even big blue IBM may now have one of the largest Apple and iPad deployments in the world. As an Apple fan it’s terrific to see the corporate world finally seeing the light. Even my own R&D team (for a long time PC-based nerds) are adopting a mix of Apple in with their PCs, iPads (of course for development) and iPhones in with Android phones (which after all you can hack and play with so much more easily than an iPhone).
I also agree with Peter O’Neill at Forrester that many market researchers are falling behind in their methodology and not including broad enough sources of corporate deployment. They have a PC bias and may be missing the rapid growth of BYOD (bring-your-own-device) policies at companies large and small. BYOD is not only popular but in the end it’s cheaper. Cisco pioneered this policy 5 years ago, showing that it was, in the end, cheaper for IT to support. And while IT departments still worry about data security, I was convinced this was solved the day my Symantec customer told me in 2011 that he could now work officially work on the iPad (Symantec is the most paranoid company on security – appropriately so given that it’s their business).
There are two major waves happening for enterprise sales teams right now: social collaboration (yes I don’t think Salesforce and Jive are wrong) and the iPad. And the FirstRain customer intelligence system is right at the intersection of the two – with our sizzling hot iPad app and integration into the top collaboration portals. We have customers deploying in all of them: Jive, Salesforce, Microsoft and Quad (Cisco) and in every case enterprise sales reps also have iPads (either their own or company issue) so they can stay on top of their major customers wherever they are.
And I hope I never have to use a PC again… although this is a false hope since my husband is the lone hold out in our family because he is an electronics designer and needs the high end tools which will probably never be on Apple (sigh).
Image from AllThingsDigital
There is nothing that feels as good as an email from a customer like this one we received today. This is from a company who wishes to remain confidential – but suffice it to say they are a large customer and have 9,000 employees using FirstRain intelligence. Well done Cory, Sagar, Ashutosh, Sweety and the rest of the support team. And thank you Jeff for your support of my team.
Cory and Team:I just wanted to pause and say “thank you” to each of you for the hard work you do to produce and modify the [internal name they use for FirstRain daily intelligence briefs]. Your good work is evident each and every week and our [internal] clients are very pleased with [internal name]. Please know that your hard work is not going unnoticed and that you are having a positive impact with each [one] you produce and modify on behalf of our [internal] clients.Job well done!!Jeff
We have a real problem with jobs in tech. We have more jobs than qualified people.
This is not in the news today because for much of the US population there are not enough jobs. Not enough jobs that people are trained for. And yet in Silicon Valley we have 1 tech position open for every 2 that are filled. Hiring great technical staff is tough and increasingly expensive.
But this is not just a California problem. At the Nashville Technology Council’s annual meeting last week the theme was Diversity – and all the discussion was around education and attracting IT workers to Nashville. They have 1,000 open positions and not having enough IT workers is a real, commercial problem for them.
Commissioner Hagerty, in his warm up speech, talked about the need for technical education in their schools and local colleges. Followed by Mayor Dean who covered many of the same themes and a sense of urgency about education investment. The Nashville Technology Council has a mission to “help Middle Tennessee become known worldwide as a leading technology community, the Nashville Technology Council is devoted to helping the tech community succeed.” – and their main focus this year is Technology Workforce Development.
It was really fun for me to speak to this group and their membership. 500 people, all of whom care about technology jobs in Nashville.
Here’s my talk. I cover the urgency of the need to get more women into technology and the changes we can make to help women stay in technology. Today, even if they start out in the technical field, half of our tech women leave tech in the first 10 years – they either leave in college or they leave early in their careers. It’s just too hard and too isolated.
But it does not have to be this way – and that’s what I talked about. We have to solve this problem as a country. By 2016 we will only be producing 50% of the tech staff we need as a country. Today less than 50% of our workforce (women) hold less than 5% of the leadership of the technology industry.
This is such a waste of talent. It’s a competitive, bottom line issue for any company that needs tech workers – whether they are in health care, energy or computing.
We’ve solved it at FirstRain. We have women in leadership positions in engineering – and we have a very flexible work environment. We can solve it everywhere, and as a country, if we want to.