All posts by Richy George

Adobe announces two new analytics tools to help marketers fill in the customer picture

Posted by on 26 March, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

Today at Adobe Summit in Las Vegas, Adobe announced some enhancements to its Analytics Suite that are supposed to help marketers understand their customers more deeply, including a new tool to track the entire customer journey, and one to help see the relationship between advertising and marketing success, which is surprisingly harder than you would think to understand.

The first is called Journey IQ, and as the name suggests, the idea is to provide a better understanding of the entire customer journey. That in itself isn’t new. It’s a task that marketing analytics vendors have been trying to solve for more than 10 years.

John Bates, director of product marketing for Adobe Analytics, says that understanding the customer journey can help focus marketing efforts in the future, and this tool is designed to help. “It’s really focused on helping find a complete view of a past experience and helping separate those good experiences or moments from the bad,” he explained.

Adobe wants to provide actionable data and analysis to help users understand what happened as their customers engaged with their site, in order to provide better experiences in the future. For marketing vendors, it’s always about the experience and the more data focused on understanding that experience, the more vendors believe their customers will have greater success.

This solution involves looking at elements like churn analysis, time-lapsed analysis to follow the journey step by step and look back and look forward kinds of analytics, all with a goal of giving marketers as much information as they can to turn that visit into positive action in the future. For marketers, that means you end the journey next time by buying (more) stuff.

The second piece is Adobe Advertising Cloud, a new product which allows marketers to see the connection between their advertising and the success of their marketing campaigns. Given the insight digital advertising is supposed to provide marketers about the ads they are serving, you would think they would be getting that already, but advertising and marketing often operate in technology silos making it hard to put the data together to see the big picture.

Adobe wants to help marketers see the connections between the ads they are serving customers and the actions the customers take when they come to the company web site. It can help give insight and understanding in to how effectively your advertising strategy is translating into consumer action.

Taken together, these two analytics tools are designed to help marketers understand how and why the customer came to the site, what actions they took when they got there, and give deeper insight into why they took an action or not.

In a world where it’s all about building positive customer experiences with the goal of driving more sales and more satisfied customers, understanding these kinds of relationships can be crucial, but keep in mind it’s challenging to understand all of this as it’s happening, even with tools like these.

Posted Under: Tech News
Adobe launches its Commerce Cloud, based on its Magento acquisition

Posted by on 26 March, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

Adobe today announced the launch of its Commerce Cloud, the newest part of the company’s Experience Cloud. Unsurprisingly, the Commerce Cloud builds on the company’s $1.68 billion acquisition of Magento last May. Indeed, at its core, the Adobe Commerce Cloud is essentially a fully managed cloud-based version of the Magento platform that is fully integrated with the rest of Adobe’s tools, including its Analytics Cloud, Marketing Cloud and Advertising Cloud.

With this launch, Adobe is also extending the platform by adding new features like dashboards for keeping an eye on a company’s e-commerce strategy and, for the first time, an integration with the Amazon marketplace from which users will be able to directly manage within the Commerce Cloud interface.

“For Adobe, that’s really important because it actually closes the last mile in its Experience offering,” said Jason Woosley, Adobe’s VP of its commerce product and platform and Magento’s former VP of product and technology. “It’s no mystery that they’ve been looking at commerce offerings in the past. We’re just super glad that they settled on us.”

Woosley also stressed that this new product isn’t just about closing the last mile for Adobe from a commerce perspective but also from a data intelligence perspective.”If you think about behavioral data you get from your interactions with our content, that’s all very critical for understanding how your customers are interacting with your brand,” he said. “But now that we’ve got a commerce offering, we are actually able to put the dollars and cents behind that.”

Adobe notes that this new offering also means that Magento users won’t have to worry about the operational aspects of running the service themselves. To ensure that it can manage this for these customers, the company has tweaked the service to be flexible and scalable on its platform.

Woosley also stressed the importance of the Amazon integration that launches with the Commerce Cloud. “Love it or hate it,” he said of Amazon. “Either you are comfortable participating in those marketplaces or you are not, but at the end of the day, they are capturing more and more of the initial product search.” Commerce Cloud users will be able to pick and choose which parts of their inventory will appear on Amazon and at what prices. Plenty of brands, after all, only want to showcase a selection of their products on Amazon to drive their brand awareness and then drive customers back to their own e-commerce stores.

It’s worth noting that all of the usual Magento extensions will work on the Adobe Commerce Cloud. That’s important given that there are more than 350,000 developers in the Magento ecosystem, plus thousands of partners. With that, the Commerce Cloud can cover quite a few use cases that wouldn’t be important enough for Adobe itself to put its own resources behind but that make the platform attractive for a wider range of potential users.

Posted Under: Tech News
Vlocity nabs $60M Series C investment on $1B valuation

Posted by on 26 March, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

As we wrote last week in How Salesforce paved the way for the SaaS platform approach, the ability to build extensions, applications and even whole companies on top of the Salesforce platform set the stage and the bar for every SaaS company since. Vlocity certainly recognized that. Targeting five verticals, it built industry-specific CRM solutions on the Salesforce platform, and today it announced a $60 million Series C round on a fat unicorn $1 billion valuation.

The round was led by Sutter Hill Ventures and Salesforce Ventures. New investors Bessemer Venture Partners and existing strategic investors Accenture and New York Life also participated. The company has now raised $163 million.

Company co-founder and CEO David Schmaier whose extensive career includes stints with Siebel Systems and Oracle, says he and his co-founders (three of whom helped launch Veeva) wanted to take the idea of Veeva, which is a life sciences-focused company built on top of Salesforce, and extend that idea across five verticals, instead of just one. Those five verticals include communications and media, insurance and financial services, health, energy and utilities and government and non-profits.

The idea he said was to build a company with a market that was 10x the size of life sciences. “What we’re doing now is building five Veevas at once. If you could buy a product already tailored to the needs of your industry why wouldn’t you do that,” Schmaier said.

The theory seems to be working. He says that the company, which was founded in 2014, has already reached $100 million in revenue and expects to double that by the end of this year. Then of course, there is the unicorn valuation. While perhaps not as rare as it once was, reaching the $1 billion level is still a significant milestone for a startup.

In the Salesforce platform story, co-founder and CTO Parker Harris addressed the need for solutions like the ones from Veeva and Vlocity. “…Harris said they couldn’t build one Salesforce for healthcare and another for insurance and a third one for finance. “We knew that wouldn’t scale, and so the platform [eventually] just evolved out of this really close relationship with our customers and the needs they had,” he told TechCrunch. In other words, Salesforce made the platform flexible enough for companies like these to fill in the blanks.

“Vlocity is a perfect example of the incredible innovation occurring in the Salesforce ecosystem and how we are working together to provide customers in all industries the technologies they need to attract and serve customers in smarter ways,” Jujhar Singh, EVP and GM for Salesforce Industries said in a statement.

It’s also telling that of the three strategic investors in this round — New York Life, Accenture and Salesforce Ventures — Salesforce is the biggest investor, according to Schmaier.

The company has 150 customers including investor New York Life, Verizon (which owns this publication), Cigna and the City of New York. It already has 700 employees in 20 countries. With this additional investment, you can expect those numbers to increase.

“What this Series C round allows us to do is to really put the gas on investing in product development, because verticals are all about going deep,” Schmaier said.

Posted Under: Tech News
Scalyr launches PowerQueries for advanced log management

Posted by on 25 March, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

Log management service Scalyr today announced the beta launch of PowerQueries, its new tools for letting its users create advanced search operations as they manage their log files and troubleshoot potential issues. The new service allows users to perform complex actions to group, transform, filter and sort their large data sets, as well as to create table lookups and joins. The company promises that these queries will happen just as fast as Scalyr’s standard queries and that getting started with these more advanced queries is pretty straightforward.

Scalyr founder and chairman Steve Newman argues that the company’s competitors may offer similar tools, but that ” their query languages are too complex, hard-to-learn and hard-to-use.” He also stressed that Scalyr made a conscious decision not to use any machine learning tools to power this and its other services to help admins and developers prioritize issues and instead decided to focus on its query language and making it easier for its users to manage their logs that way.

“So we thought about how we could leverage our strengths — real-time performance, ease-of-use and scalability — to provide similar but better functionality,” he said in today’s announcement. “As a result, we came up with a set of simple but powerful queries that address advanced use cases while improving the user experience dramatically. Like the rest of our solution, our PowerQueries are fast, easy-to-learn and easy-to-use.”

Current Scalyr customers cover a wide range of verticals. They include the likes of NBC Universal, Barracuda Networks, Spiceworks, John Hopkins University, Giphy, OKCupid and Flexport. Currently, Scalyr has over 300 paying customers. As Newman stressed, more than 4,500 employees from these customers regularly use the service. He attributes this to the fact that it’s relatively easy to use, thank’s to Scalyr’s focus on usability.

The company raised it’s last funding round — a $20 million Series A round — back in 2017. As Scalyr’s newly minted CEO Christine Heckart told me, though, the company is currently seeing rapid growth and has quickly added headcount in recent months to capitalize on this opportunity. Given this, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Scalyr raise another round in the not-so-distant future, especially considering that the log management market itself is also rapidly growing (and has changed quite a bit since Scalyr launched back in 2011) as more companies start their own digital transformation projects, which often allows them to replace some of their legacy IT tools with more modern systems.

 

Posted Under: Tech News
Alibaba acquires Israeli VR startup Infinity Augmented Reality

Posted by on 25 March, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

Infinity Augmented Reality, an Israeli virtual reality startup, has been acquired by Alibaba, the companies announced this weekend. The deal’s terms were not disclosed. Alibaba and InfinityAR have had a strategic partnership since 2016, when Alibaba Group led InfinityAR’s Series C. Since then, the two have collaborated on augmented reality, computer vision and artificial intelligence projects.

Founded in 2013, the startup’s augmented glasses platform enables developers in a wide range of industries (retail, gaming, medical, etc.) to integrate AR into their apps. InfinityAR’s products include software for ODMs and OEMs and a SDK plug-in for 3D engines.

Alibaba’s foray into virtual reality started three years ago, when it invested in Magic Leap and then announced a new research lab in China to develop ways of incorporating virtual reality into its e-commerce platform.

InfinityAR’s research and development team will begin working out of Alibaba’s Israel Machine Laboratory, part of Alibaba DAMO Academy, the R&D initiative it is pouring $15 billion into with the goal of eventually serving two billion customers and creating 100 million jobs by 2036. DAMO Academy collaborates with universities around the world and Alibaba’s Israel Machine Laboratory has a partnership with Tel Aviv University focused on video analysis and machine learning.

In a press statement, the laboratory’s head, Lihi Zelnik-Manor, said “Alibaba is delighted to be working with InfinityAR as one team after three years of partnership. The talented team brings unique knowhow in sensor fusion, computer vision and navigation technologies. We look forward to exploring these leading technologies and offering additional benefits to customers, partners and developers.”

Posted Under: Tech News
How Salesforce paved the way for the SaaS platform approach

Posted by on 22 March, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

When we think of enterprise SaaS companies today, just about every startup in the space aspires to be a platform. That means they want people using their stack of services to build entirely new applications, either to enhance the base product, or even build entirely independent companies. But when Salesforce launched Force.com, the company’s Platform as a Service in 2007, there wasn’t any model.

It turns out that Force.com was actually the culmination of a series of incremental steps after the launch of the first version of Salesforce in February, 2000, all of which were designed to make the software more flexible for customers. Company co-founder and CTO Parker Harris says that they didn’t have this goal to be a platform early on. “We were a solution first, I would say. We didn’t say let’s build a platform and then build sales-force automation on top of it. We wanted a solution that people could actually use,” Harris told TechCrunch.

The march toward becoming a full-fledged platform started with simple customization. That first version of Salesforce was pretty basic, and the company learned over time that customers didn’t always use the same language it did to describe customers and accounts — and that was something that would need to change.

Customizing the product

Posted Under: Tech News
HoneyBook, a client management platform for creative businesses, raises $28M Series C led by Citi Ventures

Posted by on 21 March, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

HoneyBook co-founders Oz and Naama Alon

HoneyBook, a customer-relationship management platform aimed at small businesses in creative fields, announced today it has raised a $28 million Series C led by Citi Ventures. All of its existing investors, including Norwest Venture Partners, Aleph, Vintage Investment Partners and Hillsven Capital, also returned for the round. Citi is a strategic partner for HoneyBook and this will enable it to offer new financial products to freelancers, its co-founder and CEO Oz Alon told TechCrunch.

This brings HoneyBook’s total raised so far to $72 million. It is using the funds to grow its teams in San Francisco and Tel Aviv and build new features for its user base, including small companies, people who work by themselves (“solopreneurs”) and freelancers. Like other CRMs, HoneyBook helps them develop relationships with potential new clients, manage projects, send invoices and accept payments, but with tools scaled for their business’ needs.

Alon told TechCrunch in an email that one segment HoneyBook is focused on is millennials (he cites a survey that found 49 percent of people under 40 plan to start their own business). HoneyBook currently claims tens of thousands of customers and has passed $1 billion in business booked using its software, along with 75,000 members in Rising Tide, the company’s online community for creative entrepreneurs.

Other management software platforms competing for the attention of entrepreneurs and freelancers include Tave, Dubsado and 17hats. One of the main ways HoneyBook differentiates is by enabling its users to accept online payments without integrating with a third-party service. Thanks to this, its users “transact more than 80 percent of their business online, significantly more than any other payments platform serving this audience, Alon said. It’s partnership with Citi will also allow the company to develop more unique services for its target customers, he added.

In a prepared statement, Citi Ventures’ Israel director and venture investing lead Omit Shinar said “We are in the midst of a period of extensive changes in societal structures and economic models. The fintech ecosystem is producing more and more breakthrough innovations that serve the needs of modern consumers, and we believe, as a pioneer in its space, HoneyBook can become a market leader in the U.S.”

Posted Under: Tech News
Windows Virtual Desktop is now in public preview

Posted by on 21 March, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

Last year, Microsoft announced the launch of its Windows Virtual Desktop service. At the time, this was a private preview, but starting today, any enterprise user who wants to try out what using a virtual Windows 10 desktop that’s hosted in the Azure cloud looks like will be able to give it a try.

It’s worth noting that this is very much a product for businesses. You’re not going to use this to play Apex Legends on a virtual machine somewhere in the cloud. The idea here is that a service like this, which also includes access to Office 365 ProPlus, makes managing machines and the software that runs on them easier for enterprises. It also allows employers in regulated industries to provide their mobile workers with a virtual desktop that ensures that all of their precious data remains secure.

One stand-out feature here is that businesses can run multiple Windows 10 sessions on a single virtual machine.

It’s also worth noting that many of the features of this service are powered by technology from FSLogix, which Microsoft acquired last year. Specifically, these technologies allow Microsoft to give the non-persistent users relatively fast access to applications like their Outlook and OneDrive applications, for example.

For most Microsoft 365 enterprise customers, access to this service is simply part of the subscription cost they already pay — though they will need an Azure subscription and pay for the virtual machines that run in the cloud.

Right now, the service is only available in the US East 2 and US Central Azure regions. Over time, and once the preview is over, Microsoft will expand it to all of its cloud regions.

Posted Under: Tech News
Microsoft Defender comes to the Mac

Posted by on 21 March, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

Microsoft today announced that it is bringing its Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) to the Mac. Previously, this was a Windows solution for protecting the machines of Microsoft 365 subscribers and assets the IT admins that try to keep them safe. It was also previously called Windows Defender ATP, but given that it is now on the Mac, too, Microsoft decided to drop the ‘Windows Defender’ moniker in favor or ‘Microsoft Defender.’

“For us, it’s all about experiences that follow the person and help the individual be more productive,” Jared Spataro, Microsoft’s corporate VP for Office and Windows, told me. “Just like we did with Office back in the day — that was a big move for us to move it off of Windows-only — but it was absolutely the right thing. So that’s where we’re headed.”

He stressed that this means that Microsoft is moving off its “Windows-centric approach to life.” He likened it to bringing the Office apps to the iPad and Android. “We’re just headed in that same direction of saying that it’s our intent that we can secure every endpoint so that this Microsoft 365 experience is not just Windows-centric,” Spataro said. Indeed, he argued that the news here isn’t even so much the launch of this service for the Mac but that Microsoft is reorienting the way it thinks about how it can deliver value for Microsoft 365 clients.

Given that Microsoft Defender is part of the Microsoft 365 package, you may wonder why those users would even care about the Mac, but there are plenty of enterprises that use a mix of Windows machines and Mac, and which provide all of their employees with Office already. Having a security solution that spans both systems can greatly reduce complexity for IT departments — and keeping up with security vulnerabilities on one system is hard enough to begin with.

In addition to the launch of the Mac version of Microsoft Defender ATP, the company also today announced the launch of new threat and vulnerability management capabilities for the service. Over the last few months, Microsoft had already launched a number of new features that help businesses proactively monitor and identify security threats.

“What we’re hearing from customers now, is that the landscape is getting increasingly sophisticated, the volume of alerts that we’re starting to get is pretty overwhelming,” Spataro said. “We really don’t have the budget to hire the thousands of people required to sort through all this and figure out what to do.”

So with this new tool, Microsoft uses its machine learning smarts to prioritize threads and present them to its customers for remediation.

To Spataro, these announcements come down to the fact that Microsoft is slowly morphing into more of a security company than ever before. “I think we’ve made a lot more progress than people realize,” he said. “And it’s been driven by the market.” He noted that its customers have long asked Microsoft to help them protect their endpoints. Now, he argues, customers have realized that Microsoft is now moving to this person-centric approach (instead of a Windows-centric one) and that the company may now be able to help them protect large parts of their systems. At the same time, Microsoft realized that it could use all of the billions of signals it gets from its users to better help its customers proactively.

Posted Under: Tech News
Skedulo raises $28M for its mobile workforce management service

Posted by on 20 March, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

Skedulo, a service that helps businesses manage their mobile employees, today announced that it has raised a $28 million Series B funding round led by M12, Microsoft’s venture fund. Existing investors Blackbird and Castanoa Ventures also participated in this round.

The company’s service offers businesses all fo the necessary tools to manage their mobile employees, including their schedules. A lot of small businesses still use basic spreadsheets and email to do this, but that’s obviously not the most efficient way to match the right employee to the right job, for example.

“Workforce management has traditionally been focused on employees that are sitting at a desk for the majority of their day,” Skedulo  CEO and Co-Founder Matt Fairhurst told me. “The overwhelming majority — 80 percent — of workers will be deskless by 2020 and so far, there has been no one that has addressed the needs of this growing population at scale.  We’re excited to help enterprises confront these challenges head-on so they can compete and lean into rapidly changing customer and employee expectations.”

At the core of Skedulo, which offers both a mobile app and web-based interface, is the company’s so-called ‘Mastermind’ engine that helps businesses automatically match the right employee to a job, based on the priorities the company has specified. The company plans to use the new funding to enhance this tool through new machine learning capabilities. Skedulo will also soon offer new analytics tools and integrations with third-party services like HR and financial management tools, as well as payroll systems.

The company also plans to use the new funding to double its headcount, which includes hiring at least 60 new employees in its Australian offices in Brisbane and Sydney.

As part of this round, Priya Saiprasad, Principal of M12, will join Skedulo’s Board of Directors. “We found a strong sense of aligned purpose with Priya Saiprasad and the team at M12 – and their desire to invest in companies that help reduce cycles in a person’s working day,” Fairhurst said. “Fundamentally, Skedulo is a productivity company. We help companies, the back-office and mobile workforce, reduce the number of cycles it takes to get work done. This gives them time back to focus on the work that matters most.”

Posted Under: Tech News
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