Apps that Help Organizations Better Connect with Customers and Thrive

 In Marketing Technology

Last week in DC – we went to 2 great vendor events to check out new vendors and technologies. Those vendor events? We went to see ServiceNow CSM, a technology that collects and prioritizes customer issue data and feedback. We also went to Microsoft Analytics and Business Intelligence to analyze and report customer data and feedback. Specifically, we wanted to see how their newer technologies help organizations better connect with customers and thrive.

ServiceNow CSM Helps Agencies Better Connect with Customers

The first was ServiceNow’s NewForum held at the Wardman Park Marriott.  For those who are unfamiliar, ServiceNow has its roots in Cloud-based IT Service Management (ITSM).   About the middle of last year, they introduced ServiceNow CSM.

At first glance, it might not make sense. But then you take a second glance, when you look at the functions, it does.  ServiceNow CSM is based on core architecture and functionality of their flagship product. It’s simply packaged differently.  So, it’s makes sense and ServiceNow is likely a smart choice for government agencies.

We wondered about ServiceNow’s CSM uptake.  After all, it’s in an increasingly busy customer experience technology segment. They’re joining a market with some terrific customer experience solutions, like SalesForce Service Cloud or Qualtrics Customer Experience Management solution.

ServiceNow CSM Engages with Customers

Unlike many solutions in customer experience, ServiceNow CSM reaches past just engagement to remediation of customer service issues. ServiceNow aims to improve operations with proactive alerts, service management and root cause analysis.

This is what we learned:  ServiceNow CSM might replace Salesforce  Service Cloud in maybe 1 out of 10 deals. SalesForce Service Cloud itself is only a few years old.  Given that, we would not expect many replacements of it. After all, enterprises generally don’t replace a newly-implemented app.

But who buys ServiceNow CSM?  We discovered that ServiceNow does well in greenfield deployments.  Further, ServiceNow CSM does particularly well when IT decision-makers are fanboys of ServiceNow ITSM.

In DC,  ServiceNow CSM has a particularly promising future among government agencies.   While agencies certainly grapple with customer service and customer experience issues –  think IRS or Social Security Administration – they don’t have marketers.  This means IT generally makes the buying decisions.  So in customer service management clouds for government, it’s advantage ServiceNow CSM.

Microsoft Analytics for the Deep Insights to Better Connect with Customers

We also attended  Azure DataFest hosted by The Northern Virginia SQL Users Group.  With our deep history in marketing analytics, we keep up with new developments in analytics technology.

No doubt that Microsoft has come a long way in its analytics offerings. It fully embraced open source with its optimized clusters for Hadoop, Spark, Hive, HBase Storm, Kafka, and Microsoft R Server.

Managed service offerings have the usual functions you’d expect in analytics – complete with ETL, data warehousing and data science functionality.   Of course, service offerings come with enterprise-class security and performance monitoring.  You are up and running fast, and with a 99.9% end-to-end SLA.

Hands Down, Microsoft Power BI is a Standout

Where Microsoft really impressed us was in its Power BI.  With the launch of Excel 2013 and Power Pivot’s dramatically improved functionality, you could easily see Microsoft’s direction.  With Power BI, they arrived.

Quite simply, Microsoft Power BI hits the trifecta; it’s powerful, beautiful, and easy-to-use.  One of our favorite features is that you can import data from about 80 data sources (and more getting added all the time).   For marketers and marketing tech professionals, you’d be happy to know that Microsoft Power BI includes connectors for a growing number of sales and marketing technologies:

  • Email marketing app MailChimp
  • CRM leader Salesforce
  • Advertising powerhouse Facebook
  • Web analytics giant Google Analytics

Once you connect with data sources, you shape it for your analysis and reporting.  Power BI connects multiple apps at the time. and you write a single query using data from each one.  Alternatively, a more complex query could also source data from more than one app at the same time.  Best of all, it’s easy to do.

Beautiful Marketing Data Stories with Microsoft Power BI

Lastly and most importantly, Power BI creates the most stunning data visualizations you’ll find anywhere in business intelligence.  In addition to stock templates built into Power BI, Microsoft has an online store of templates contributed by its growing community of Power BI users.  Keeping with the easy to use goal, Power BI makes it easy for marketers to display their marketing and sales performance data. 

With its ease in making them and its broad selection of data visualizations, even novice marketers can easily tell a compelling marketing data story.

Not only do we believe that Power BI will quickly become a market leader, we’re also confident that marketers will find it a particularly important technology in their MarTech toolkit.

In total, we have a interesting week checking out some cool cloud apps.  We believe that both ServiceNow and Microsoft Analytics and BI solutions can help organizations everywhere better connect with customers and thrive.


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