By Sramana Mitra and guest author Saurabh Mallik
SM: One of the areas we are probing is sales 2.0, which is the combination of marketing and sales using technology in a big way. There are a variety of cloud vendors that are catering to this movement. I did an interview of the executive VP of sales of a $35 million company, and he explained exactly how this company is rolling out this process and the technology to support the process for all cloud technologies. I was thinking that the layout of that process has to happen in the sales organization, right?
MW: What I understand from the question is, for areas such as sales 2.0, which is potentially evolutionary thinking about how I evaluate sales and marketing, that expertise definitely lives in the sales and marketing group.
SM: You need to understand the domain of how to do very process-oriented sales and marketing, and that expertise has to be in the functional organizations, be it the IT organization or another.
MW: I agree. That’s very true of the manufacturing organizations, supply chain logistics, and finance. It just happens that we spend more time automating what we have to do in those areas. So, I have more people in IT familiar with shop floor automation than people familiar with supply chain automation. I would say that this example is valid in that sales 2.0 represents innovation in an area where the IT people may or may not have expertise and that subject matter experts must drive the process. That would be true of any business process. As for the example you have chosen, I would also suggest that the marketing and sales people ought to talk to their technology brethren and ask if there is anything disruptive here. Because the collaborative technologies we discussed describe part of the disruptive potential of sales 2.0.
SM: Absolutely, there’s a huge amount of collaborative technologies that are coming out of this space. There’s no question about that.
MW: The last part of sales 2.0 in collaboration is WebEx. I met a very interesting woman, a mathematical scientist on social networks, not social media. She corrected me when I used social network to mean the technologies of social media. She said social networking is the mathematical science of how people network and connect, how information stops and flows, and how we model it. Along with the marketing experts and me, who know how to position, create a message, and offer incentives that lead people to act; and the technology experts who know how to automate processes and bring disruptive technologies to bear, we ought to not forget that there are some disciplines like social networking quantitative modeling that are fantastic. To begin to describe the interaction of a company’s marketing with its actual customer base is much more quantitative than qualitative. That is beginning to influence some of our collaborative technologies because we can now target the influencers and disciples.
SM: On that general topic, as you are talking about highly specialized workflows and highly specialized business processes, how do you view the role of integration? Obviously, in this scenario that was described, we are looking at a $35 million company that is using various cloud solutions to implement its sales and marketing process based on a sales 2.0 process. This company has done a fair bit of integration of these processes so that they all flow together. So, there is an element of integration work being done. In your business, for the longest time, with the Siebels and the PeopleSofts of the world, you did a lot of business with integration. Today, with cloud computing adoption, how does your customer base view integration?
MW: The great news, as you put it for us, is that it’s not less. In fact, going from a cloud source of service to multiple cloud sources of service is still very edgy right now. It’s kind of like a back to the future world. Back when I was a child, we used to select a general ledger accounts payable system from one vendor and an accounts receivable fixed asset from another and implement those as a reporting tool as automation. You would select inventory, requirements planning, and software automation from three different vendors and integrate those for manufacturing. I don’t know if we are going back to that level.
Let’s not speak of the cloud at the moment, because that takes it to a different scale. Just in general enterprise apps now, that’s happening again. If we were going to look at what Oracle is selling right now, it’s less EBS and more Demantra and Siebel. So, I may be choosing a best-of-breed vendor, in this case Oracle, but there’s still integration to be done. Now, if I take it to the cloud, I am now doing this best of breed for multiple vendors, so I find myself turning back to the same disciplines I had before, and that shows that integration happens as a combination of people plus process plus technology. My experience is with small and medium technology, and even with large businesses that are doing a pilot, is that integration is being done at the people level. People are using two different systems to get something done. Or at the process level, where I have process automation, even workflow automation is tapping out to multiple sources. The workflow layer is providing all the integration. I actually like the thought, and that bridges us to the technology side which could be workflow or message based. But frankly, today we are seeing a lot of data-driven integration. That’s not bad, it’s just back to the future.