All posts by Richy George

Salesforce announces new Service Cloud workforce planning tool

Posted by on 2 December, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

With a pandemic raging across many parts of the world, many companies have customer service agents spread out as well, creating a workforce management nightmare. It wasn’t easy to manage and route requests when CSAs were in one place, it’s even harder with many working from home.

To help answer that problem Salesforce is developing a new product called Service Cloud Workforce Engagement. Bill Patterson, EVP and General Manager for CRM Applications at Salesforce points out that with these workforces spread out, it’s a huge challenge for management to distribute work and keep up with customer volume, especially as customers have moved online during COVID.

“With Service Cloud Workforce Engagement, Salesforce will arm the contact center with a connected solution — all on one platform so our customers can remain resilient and agile no matter what tomorrow may bring,” Patterson said in a statement.

Like many Salesforce products, this one is made up of several key components to deliver a complete solution. For starters, there is Service Forecast for Customer 360, a tool that helps predict workforce requirements and uses AI to distribute customer service requests in a way that makes sense. This can help in planning at a time with a likely predictable uptick in service requests like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, or even those times when there is an unexpected spike.

Next up is Omnichannel Capacity Planning, which helps managers distribute CSAs across channels such as phone, messaging or email wherever they are needed most based on the demand across a given channel.

Finally, there is a teaching component that helps coach customer service agents to give the correct answer in the correct way for a given situation. “To increase agent engagement and performance, companies will be able to quickly onboard and continually train agents by delivering bite-size, guided learning paths directly in the agent’s workspace during their shift,” the company explained.

The company says that Service Cloud Workforce Engagement will be available in the first half of next year.

Posted Under: Tech News
Google acquires Actifio to step into the area of data management and business continuity

Posted by on 2 December, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

In the same week that Amazon is holding its big AWS confab, Google is also announcing a move to raise its own enterprise game with Google Cloud. Today the company announced that it is acquiring Actifio, a data management company that helps companies with data continuity to be better prepared in the event of a security breach or other need for disaster recovery. The deal squares Google up as a competitor against the likes of Rubrik, another big player in data continuity.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed in the announcement; we’re looking and will update as we learn more. Notably, when the company was valued at over $1 billion in a funding round back in 2014, it had said it was preparing for an IPO (which never happened). PitchBook data estimated its value at $1.3 billion in 2018, but earlier this year it appeared to be raising money at about a 60% discount to its recent valuation, according to data provided to us by Prime Unicorn Index.

The company was also involved in a patent infringement suit against Rubrik, which it also filed earlier this year.

It had raised around $461 million, with investors including Andreessen Horowitz, TCV, Tiger, 83 North, and more.

With Actifio, Google is moving into what is one of the key investment areas for enterprises in recent years. The growth of increasingly sophisticated security breaches, coupled with stronger data protection regulation, has given a new priority to the task of holding and using business data more responsibly, and business continuity is a cornerstone of that.

Google describes the startup as as a “leader in backup and disaster recovery” providing virtual copies of data that can be managed and updated for storage, testing, and more. The fact that it covers data in a number of environments — including SAP HANA, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, PostgreSQL, and MySQL, virtual machines (VMs) in VMware, Hyper-V, physical servers, and of course Google Compute Engine — means that it also gives Google a strong play to work with companies in hybrid and multi-vendor environments rather than just all-Google shops.

“We know that customers have many options when it comes to cloud solutions, including backup and DR, and the acquisition of Actifio will help us to better serve enterprises as they deploy and manage business-critical workloads, including in hybrid scenarios,” writes Brad Calder, VP, engineering, in the blog post. :In addition, we are committed to supporting our backup and DR technology and channel partner ecosystem, providing customers with a variety of options so they can choose the solution that best fits their needs.”

The company will join Google Cloud.

“We’re excited to join Google Cloud and build on the success we’ve had as partners over the past four years,” said Ash Ashutosh, CEO at Actifio, in a statement. “Backup and recovery is essential to enterprise cloud adoption and, together with Google Cloud, we are well-positioned to serve the needs of data-driven customers across industries.”

Posted Under: Tech News
Salesforce applies AI to workflow with Einstein Automate

Posted by on 2 December, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

While Salesforce made a big splash yesterday with the announcement that it’s buying Slack for $27.7 billion, it’s not the only thing going on for the CRM giant this week. In fact Dreamforce, the company’s customer extravaganza is also on the docket. While it is virtual this year, there are still product announcements aplenty and today the company announced Einstein Automate, a new AI-fueled set of workflow solutions.

Sarah Franklin, EVP & GM of Platform, Trailhead and AppExchange at Salesforce says that she is seeing companies facing a digital imperative to automate processes as things move ever more quickly online, being driven there even faster by the pandemic. “With Einstein Automate, everyone can change the speed of work and be more productive through intelligent workflow automation,” she said in a statement.

Brent Leary, principal analyst at CRM Essentials says that combined these tools are designed to help customers get to work more quickly. “It’s not only about identifying the insight, it’s about making it easier to leverage it at the the right time. And this should make it easier for users to do it without spending more time and effort,” Leary told TechCrunch.

Einstein is the commercial name given to Salesforce’s artificial intelligence platform that touches every aspect of the company’s product line, bringing automation to many tasks and making it easier to find the most valuable information on customers, which is often buried in an avalanche of data.

Einstein Automate encompasses several products designed to improve workflows inside organizations. For starters, the company has created Flow Orchestrator, a tool that uses a low-code, drag and drop approach for building workflows, but it doesn’t stop there. It also relies on AI to provide help suggest logical next steps to speed up workflow creation.

Salesforce is also bringing Mulesoft, the integration company it bought for $6.5 billion in 2018 into the mix. Instead of processes like a mortgage approval workflow, the Mulesoft piece lets IT build complex integrations between applications across the enterprise, and the Salesforce family of products more easily.

To make it easier to build these workflows, Salesforce is announcing the Einstein Automate collection page available in AppExchange, the company’s application marketplace. The collection includes over 700 pre-built connectors so customers can grab and go as they build these workflows, and finally it’s updating the OmniStudio, their platform for generating customer experiences. As Salesforce describes it, “Included in OmniStudio is a suite of resources and no-code tools, including pre-built guided experiences, templates and more, allowing users to deploy digital-first experiences like licensing and permit applications quickly and with ease. ”

Per usual with Salesforce Dreamforce announcements, the Flow Orchestrator being announced today won’t be available in beta until next summer. The Mulesoft component will be available in early 2021, but the OmniStudio updates and the Einstein connections collection are available today.

Posted Under: Tech News
Welcome raises $6M to help your company hire and keep employees

Posted by on 2 December, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

Welcome, the HR software that helps organizations make and close offers to new candidates, announced the close of a $6 million seed round today, led by FirstMark Capital. Participating investors include Ludlow Ventures, Nat Turner and Zach Weinberg, and Keenan Rice and Ben Porterfield (which were existing investors), as well as a wide array of angels.

TechCrunch last covered Welcome in August, when it announced a $1.4 million funding round. That the startup was able to raise more as quickly as it has is testament to how hot the early-stage venture capital market is today, and likely an endorsement of Welcome’s economic profile and recent growth.

Past the new capital, Welcome is also launching a new product today called Total Rewards, which helps not just new candidates but also existing employees get a complete, easy-to-understand picture of their compensation, across salary, benefits, equity, etc.

But let’s back up.

Welcome was founded in 2019 by Nick Gavronsky and Rick Pereira, with a mission to help organizations close offers on candidates by providing a much clearer picture of compensation, particularly around equity. Cofounder and CEO Nick Gavronsky explained that many candidates don’t truly understand the value of the equity they’re offered, or how it works.

“A lot of recruiting teams aren’t well-equipped to use it as a selling tool and explain it effectively and showcase the value to candidates to help them think about their ownership at the company,” he added.

Image Credits: Welcome

Welcome allows companies to organize their compensation offers based on level and position, and deliver that information digitally to candidates in a way that makes sense.

The startup integrates with a variety of other software providers including Slack, Lever, Greenhouse, ADP and Justworks to name a few, simplifying onboarding for Welcome clients and bringing a broad array of information into one place.

Offers sent through Welcome show a description of the role, equity details, total compensation and even include a welcome note and video. This is in stark contrast to the black and white legal PDF often sent to candidates.

The next phase for the company comes in the form of the launch of Total Rewards, which is meant to help retain existing employees, helping them understand their compensation value and their potential at the company.

“Painting a better picture becomes a pre-retention tool,” said Gavronsky. “An employee will sometimes leave thousands of dollars on the table because they don’t understand what they’re walking away from. A lot of times companies will wait until that person is going to resign. Let me now bring up all the things that are great about our company and talk through your stock options. But the decision’s already made. So we wanted something that we can kind of put in with performance reviews.”

Welcome also has plans to offer a third product pillar in the form of real-time accurate industry-wide compensation data, helping companies understand where they fit into the larger ecosystem with regards to compensation.

Thus far, Welcome has 40 companies on the platform, including Uncork and Betterment, with hundreds on the waitlist according to the cofounders. The company plans to use the funding to build out the team and the product.

Posted Under: Tech News
Jitsu nabs $2M Seed to build open source data integration platform

Posted by on 2 December, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

Jitsu, a graduate of the Y Combinator Summer 2020 cohort, is developing an open source data integration platform that helps developers send data to a data warehouse. Today, the startup announced a $2 million seed investment.

Costanoa Ventures led the round with participation from YCombintaor, The House Fund and SignalFire.

In addition to the open source version of the software, the company has developed a hosted version that companies can pay to use, which shares the same name as the company. Peter Wysinski, Jitsu’s co-founder and CEO, says a good way to think about his company is an open source Segment, the customer data integration company that was recently sold to Twilio for $3.2 billion.

But he says, it goes beyond what Segment by allowing you to move all kinds of data whether customer data, connected device data or other types. “If you look at the space in general, companies want more granularity. So let’s say for example, a couple years ago you wanted to sync just your transactions from QuickBooks to your data warehouse, now you want to capture every single sale at the point of sale. What Jitsu lets you do is capture essentially all of those events, all of those streams, and send them to your data warehouse,” Wysinski explained.

Among the data warehouses it currently supports include Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery, PostGres and Snowflake.

The founders built the open source project called EventNative to help solve problems they themselves were having moving data around at their previous jobs. After putting the open source version on GitHub a few months ago, they quickly attained 1000 stars, proving that they had delivered something that solved a common problem for data teams. They then built the hosted version, Jitsu, which went live a couple of weeks ago.

For now, the company is just the two co-founders, Wysinski and CTO Vladimir Klimontovich, but they intend to do some preliminary hiring over the next year to grow the company, most likely adding engineers. As they begin to build out the startup, Wysinski says that being open source will help drive diversity and inclusion in their hiring.

“The goal is essentially to go after that open source community and hire people from anywhere because engineers aren’t just […] one color or one race, they’re everywhere, and being open source, and especially being in a remote world, makes it so so much simpler [to build a diverse workforce], and a lot of companies I feel are going down that road,” he said.

He says along that line, the plan is to be a fully remote company, even after the pandemic ends, as they hire from anywhere. The goal is to have quarterly offsite meetings to check in with employees, but do the majority of the work remotely.

Posted Under: Tech News
Daily Crunch: Salesforce buys Slack for $27.7B

Posted by on 1 December, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

Salesforce announces its acquisition of Slack, Amazon brings the Mac mini to the cloud and Google Maps gets a newsfeed. This is your Daily Crunch for December 1, 2020.

The big story: Salesforce buys Slack for $27.7B

The acquisition, which was first reported last month, is now official.

“This is a match made in heaven,” said Salesforce co-founder and CEO Marc Benioff. “Together, Salesforce and Slack will shape the future of enterprise software and transform the way everyone works in the all-digital, work-from-anywhere world.”

This cash-and-stock deal should make Salesforce a more serious competitor in the enterprise communication market. It also seems that Slack (which went public last year) was an obvious target for a takeover, due to an underwhelming stock price and a net loss of $147.6 million during the two quarters ending on July 31 of this year.

The tech giants

AWS brings the Mac mini to its cloud — This was just one of the announcements that Amazon Web Services made today at its re:Invent conference.

Google Maps takes on Facebook with launch of its own news feed — The feed is designed to make it easier to find the most recent news and recommendations from trusted local sources.

Facebook’s self-styled ‘oversight’ board selects first cases, most dealing with hate speech — The Facebook-funded body that the tech giant set up to distance itself from tricky content moderation decisions has announced the first set of cases it will consider.

Startups, funding and venture capital

SoftBank takes a $690M stake in cloud-based Swedish customer engagement company Sinch — Sinch provides cloud-based “omnichannel” voice, video and messaging services to help enterprises communicate with customers.

Voi, the European ‘micromobility’ rental company, raises $160M additional equity and debt funding — Voi says the new funding will be used to invest in technology development, fuel growth in current Voi markets and bring its latest e-scooter model to more cities.

Floww raises $6.7M for its data-driven marketplace matching founders with investors, based on merit — Having made more than 160 investments himself, founder Martijn De Wever says he recognized the need for a platform connecting investors and startups.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Bottom-up SaaS: A framework for mapping pricing to customer value — For the first time, individual employees are influencing the tooling decisions of their companies.

Who’s building the grocery store of the future? — Startups offering cashierless checkout, software analytics and robotics will clean up on aisle five.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

China’s Chang’e-5 lunar lander successfully lands on the moon — China’s Chang’e-5 mission will be the third ever to bring back soil or rock samples from the moon.

US shopping app downloads on Black Friday reached a record 2.8M installs — Many U.S. consumers spent this year’s Black Friday sales event shopping from home on mobile devices.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

Posted Under: Tech News
Salesforce beats growth expectations, as investors digest the Slack acquisition

Posted by on 1 December, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

Today after the bell, Salesforce reported its third-quarter earnings for its fiscal 2021, a period that ended October 31, 2020. The CRM giant reported top-line revenue of $5.42 billion, up 20% from the year-ago period. Salesforce also had net income of $1.08 billion and earnings per share of $1.15.

Analysts had expected the company to earn $0.75 per share, off of revenues of $5.25 billion, according to Yahoo Finance.

Shares of Salesforce were off after-hours, falling around 3.6% at the time of writing. It was not clear if the company’s share price performance was due to its Q3 results, its raised Q4 guidance, or its new fiscal 2022 expectations, or the newly announced Slack deal.

As TechCrunch reported moments ago, Salesforce will buy Slack for $27.7 billion, in a cash and stock deal that was fully priced into shares of the smaller company, which dropped a little over a point on the news, having risen by nearly 50% since the deal’s existence first leaked.

Holders of Slack will be rewarded for their patience. Now it’s up to Salesforce leadership to prove that the huge buy will help boost the company’s growth.

Salesforce told investors today that it anticipates Q4 fiscal 2021 revenues of $5.665 billion to $5.675 billion, which works out to growth of around 17% from the year-ago period. The company also anticipates that it will grow around 17% in Q1 of its fiscal 2022.

But Salesforce expects to grow 21% in all of its fiscal 2022. How does it intend to accelerate? Its projections include Slack:

Full Year FY22 revenue guidance includes contributions from Slack Technologies, Inc. of approximately $600 million, net of purchase accounting, and assumes a closing date in late Q2 and Acumen Solutions, Inc. of approximately $150 million, net of purchase accounting, and assumes a closing date within Q2.

So, Salesforce investors, after two anticipated quarters of 17% growth coming up, your company will accelerate up to 21% growth for the next fiscal year. Is that worth $27.7 billion?

 

Posted Under: Tech News
Salesforce buys Slack in a $27.7B megadeal

Posted by on 1 December, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

Salesforce, the CRM powerhouse that recently surpassed $20 billion in annual revenue, announced today it is wading deeper into enterprise social by acquiring Slack in a $27.7 billion megadeal. Rumors of a pending deal surfaced last week, causing Slack’s stock price to spike.

Salesforce co-founder and CEO Marc Benioff didn’t mince words on his latest purchase. “This is a match made in heaven. Together, Salesforce and Slack will shape the future of enterprise software and transform the way everyone works in the all-digital, work-from-anywhere world,” Benioff said in a statement.

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield was no less effusive than his future boss. “As software plays a more and more critical role in the performance of every organization, we share a vision of reduced complexity, increased power and flexibility, and ultimately a greater degree of alignment and organizational agility. Personally, I believe this is the most strategic combination in the history of software, and I can’t wait to get going,” Butterfield said in a statement.

Every worker at every company needs to communicate, something that Slack can ably empower. What’s more, it also facilitates external communication with customers and partners, something that should be quite useful for a company like Salesforce and its family of offerings.

Ultimately, Slack was ripe for the taking. Entering 2020 it had lost around 40% of its value since it went public. Consider that after its most recent earnings report, the company lost 16% of its value, and before the Salesforce deal leaked, the company was worth only a few dollars per share more than its direct listing reference price. Toss in net losses of $147.6 million during the two quarters ending July 31, 2020, Slack’s uninspiring public valuation and its winding path to profitability and it was a sitting target for a takeover like this one. The only surprise here is the price.

Slack’s current valuation, according to both Yahoo and Google Finance is just over $25 billion, which given its very modest price change after-hours means that the market priced the company somewhat effectively. Slack is up around 48% from its valuation that preceded the deal becoming known.

The new deal also puts Salesforce more on par — and in competition — with its arch rival and sometime friend Microsoft, whose Teams product has been directly challenging Slack in the market. Microsoft, which passed on buying Slack in the past for a fraction of what Salesforce is paying today, has made Teams a key priority in recent quarters, loathe to cede any portion of the enterprise software market to another company.

What really has set Slack apart from the pack, at least initially, was its ability to integrate with other enterprise software. When you combined that with bots, those intelligent digital helpers, the company could potentially provide Salesforce customers with a central place to work without changing focus because everything they need to do can be done in Slack.

Today’s deal comes after Salesforce’s purchase of Quip in 2016 for $750 million. Quip brought a way of socially sharing documents to the SaaS giant, and when paired with the Slack acquisition gives Salesforce a much more robust social story to tell than its internal option Chatter, an early attempt at enterprise social that never really caught on.

It’s worth noting that Salesforce was interested in Twitter in 2016, the same year that Microsoft was reportedly interested in Slack, but eventually walked away from that deal when shareholders objected, not wanting to deal with the controversial side of the social platform.

Slack was founded in 2013, but its origins go back to an online multiplayer game company called Glitch that was founded in 2009. While the game was ultimately a failure, the startup developed an internal messaging system in the process of building that company that later evolved into Slack.

The company’s historic growth helped Slack raise over $1 billion while private, earning an impressive $7 billion valuation before going public last year. But while the Glitch-to-unicorn story appears simple, Slack has always faced entrenched competition from the likes of not only Microsoft, but also Cisco, Facebook, Google and even Asana and Monday.com.

For Slack, the path to the public markets was fraught with hype and outsized expectation. The company was famous, or as famous as an enterprise software company can be. At the time it felt like the its debut was the start of a long tenure as an indie company. Instead, that public life has been cut short by a huge check. Such is the dog-eat-dog world of tech.

Posted Under: Tech News
Ivanti has acquired security firms MobileIron and Pulse Secure

Posted by on 1 December, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

IT security software company Ivanti has acquired two security companies: enterprise mobile security firm MobileIron, and corporate virtual network provider Pulse Secure.

In a statement on Tuesday, Ivanti said it bought MobileIron for $872 million in stock, with 91% of the shareholders voting in favor of the deal; and acquired Pulse Secure from its parent company Siris Capital Group, but did not disclose the buying price.

The deals have now closed.

Ivanti was founded in 2017 after Clearlake Capital, which owned Heat Software, bought Landesk from private equity firm Thoma Bravo, and merged the two companies to form Ivanti. The combined company, headquartered in Salt Lake City, focuses largely on enterprise IT security, including endpoint, asset, and supply chain management. Since its founding, Ivanti went on to acquire several other companies, including U.K.-based Concorde Solutions and RES Software.

If MobileIron and Pulse Secure seem familiar, both companies have faced their fair share of headlines this year after hackers began exploiting vulnerabilities found in their technologies.

Just last month, the U.K. government’s National Cyber Security Center published an alert that warned of a remotely executable bug in MobileIron, patched in June, allowing hackers to break into enterprise networks. U.S. Homeland Security’s cybersecurity advisory unit CISA said that the bug was being actively used by advanced persistent threat (APT) groups, typically associated with state-backed hackers.

Meanwhile, CISA also warned that Pulse Secure was one of several corporate VPN providers with vulnerabilities that have since become a favorite among hackers, particularly ransomware actors, who abuse the bugs to gain access to a network and deploy the file-encrypting ransomware.

Posted Under: Tech News
Amazon announces a bunch of products aimed at industrial sector

Posted by on 1 December, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

One of the areas that is often left behind when it comes to cloud computing is the industrial sector. That’s because these facilities often have older equipment or proprietary systems that aren’t well suited to the cloud. Amazon wants to change that, and today the company announced a slew of new services at AWS re:Invent aimed at helping the industrial sector understand their equipment and environments better.

For starters, the company announced Amazon Monitron, which is designed to monitor equipment and send signals to the engineering team when the equipment could be breaking down. If industrial companies can know when their equipment is breaking, it allows them to repair on it their own terms, rather than waiting until after it breaks down and having the equipment down at what could be an inopportune time.

As AWS CEO Andy Jassy says, an experienced engineer will know when equipment is breaking down by a certain change in sound or a vibration, but if the machine could tell you even before it got that far, it would be a huge boost to these teams.

“…a lot of companies either don’t have sensors, they’re not modern powerful sensors, or they are not consistent and they don’t know how to take that data from the sensors and send it to the cloud, and they don’t know how to build machine learning models, and our manufacturing companies we work with are asking [us] just solve this [and] build an end-to-end solution. So I’m excited to announce today the launch of Amazon Monotron, which is an end-to-end solution for equipment monitoring,” Jassy said.

The company builds a machine learning model that understands what a normal state looks like, then uses that information to find anomalies and send back information to the team in a mobile app about equipment that needs maintenance now based on the data the model is seeing.

For those companies who may have a more modern system and don’t need the complete package that Monotron offers, Amazon has something for these customers as well. If you have modern sensors, but you don’t have a sophisticated machine learning model, Amazon can ingest this data and apply its machine learning algorithms to find anomalies just as it can with Monotron.

“So we have something for this group of customers as well to announce today, which is the launch of Amazon Lookout for Equipment, which does anomaly detection for industrial machinery,” he said.

In addition, the company announced the Panorama Appliance for companies using cameras at the edge who want to use more sophisticated computer vision, but might not have the most modern equipment to do that. “I’m excited to announce today the launch of the AWS Panorama Appliance which is a new hardware appliance [that allows] organizations to add computer vision to existing on premises smart cameras,” Jassy told AWS re:Invent today.

In addition, it also announced a Panorama SDK to help hardware vendors build smarter cameras based on Panorama.

All of these services are designed to give industrial companies access to sophisticated cloud and machine learning technology at whatever level they may require depending on where they are on the technology journey.

Posted Under: Tech News
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