I did not get much notice for the Oracle MCX event in Chicago this week, so could only spend a day there, but even in that short timeframe I got the vibe over and over that things are finally humming in the CRM marketplace, or as Oracle calls it the Modern Customer Experience space. We have been talking about so many of the technologies and trends for so long that it is good to finally see use cases confidently being presented on stage.
a) If you work at a liquor store you get asked for wine pairing recommendations all day long. At Total Wine, a self-service solution was to encourage customers to use a recommendation kiosk. John Jordan, Chief Customer Officer, told me after his presentation at MCX he had expected life of such a kiosk would be a couple of years but they are still going after seven. The refresh will be in the form of mobile, machine learning and commerce technology. A customer sends a text about an upcoming party and asks for wine recommendations. Machines parse the text and hand over initial recommendations to a human agent who calls the customer and gathers more information – how many invited, help with grape categories, desired price range etc. and machines help the agent suggest some recommendations. Next the agent takes the order and arranges for shipment. The Total Wine variety, expertise and friendliness for the digital age.
There was the City of Albuquerque talking about how citizens are using Alexa to report missed trash pickup, request clean up of graffiti or ask for opening hours of parks or museums. Then there was the old-faithful Elgin Pelican Street Sweeper. Now over a century old, it has sensors like so many machines in our Internet of Things, and maintenance these days could involve a remote service agent with an augmented reality headset (photo below of what an agent might see – superimposed on the MCX audience in Chicago)
b) In 2009, I wrote about Digital Body Language, a book by Steven Woods, co-founder of eloqua. Steven was slightly ahead of his time. Here on stage Oracle was finally presenting that vision of being able to capture and analyze the digital gestures and finger prints we are constantly leaving behind. Its Audience product which allows for integration of first and third party data assets and Infinity product which promises “Real time, all the time” got plenty of play. And as a backdrop to MCX, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook was being grilled on Capitol Hill. What more validation could you want that our digital body language is being intently watched?
c) There was Aaron Shidler of Oracle probably anticipating my impatience that enterprise software has been slow to verticalize solutions (see my note on Uptakefor more on that). He presented in an analyst breakout session about “hyper-personalized digital guest experiences” in hospitality, and “integrated onboarding, underwriting and claims” in insurance. I have asked for a follow up conversation to understand how Oracle is leveraging all its industry assets like Retek in retail, i-flex in banking and BRM in telecoms to its CRM offerings.
d) As an innovation author, I have written hundreds of case studies on interesting products, people and places. My style is in the third person – my subjects get 90% of the words. It could be the political environment, but many more of us are expressing ourselves in the first person and marketers are noticing and allowing interesting individuals to loudly tell their stories. At MCX there was Sheryl Strayed who described her remarkable 1,100 mile trek through the rugged Pacific Crest Trail (superbly moderated by a very respectful Christina Cavanna of Oracle) As a reviewer of the movie, Wild adapted from her book said “she’s the latest in a line of protagonists dating back hundreds if not thousands of years — people who embark on long wilderness walks to cleanse themselves of the accretions of civilization, terrible sin, or grief.” but what makes her stand out is “Women, however, weren’t always allowed to set off on epic journeys — they generally ended up in convents, taking the veil.” There was Casey Neistat, a YouTube personality and vlogger, two job descriptions which did exist a few years ago talking (very humbly I thought) about his astonishing journey from trailer park and a dishwasher job to a personality sought-after by brands like Nike.
e) Finally there was a dinner with Denis Pombriant and Michael Krigsman. As fellow Enterprise Irregulars we connect on a regular basis. What was different was we were invited by Alex Shapiro who has taken on a role dealing with us “independent analysts”. The term in Oracle lingo has more to do with procurement-centric independent contractor status. Of all the vendors, Oracle has probably struggled the most adjusting to the emergence of bloggers as influencers. It still issues way too many press releases and still treats established analysts firms like Gartner differently. Alex spending time getting to know us and his responsiveness to our very different requests is very encouraging. The fact that Denis and I write books and blogs on a wide variety of subjects, the fact that I advise a number of corporate clients and Michael has a popular videocast service with high-profile executives as subjects reflects the “omni-channel in the analyst business”. It’s a whole new world.
Yes, Toto we are not in Kansas anymore. Wish I could have stayed longer.
(Cross-posted @ Deal Architect)