Category Archives: Marketing
There was a famous Broadway musical back in the 1950s (and NO I am not old enough to remember it from back then!) called Pajama Game. The show stopping number was called Steam Heat — and the number and show helped to make Shirley Maclaine a star!
These days the word “steam” evokes a whole different image. Ask my son who is the expert on all things gaming (as are most teen boys). Steam is a platform developed by Valve Corporation. It lets users download games (and in October 2012 Valve expanded the service to include non-gaming software). In our tech world, Steam gives access — digital distribution, digital rights management, multi-player and communications.
If you haven’t heard of Steam before — it will probably become part of your life in the near future.
Remember the X-Box from Microsoft? The X-Box (the current one is called the X-Box 360) is a video gaming brand created by Microsoft. It includes a series of video game consoles, the latest of which will be the X-Box One. Kids all over the world love the X-Box because they can not only play games on it, but they can play games with others from around the world using something called X-Box Live. Xbox Live costs about $60 a year and for that fee you subscribe to a service that lets you stream multimedia content from PCs, purchase and stream music, view TV programs and films through the Xbox Music and Xbox Video services, along with access to third-party content services through third-party media streaming applications. Microsoft does offer a free X-Box Live, but functionality is very limited — it lets you get to the store so you can actually pay for stuff (hmmm, and the ability to shop is free, how ironic is THAT?) and you can play demo games to see if you want to buy them. As I said the free version is very limited.
X-Box took over the gaming world in a big way — thanks in large part to the multi-player gaming abilities of X-Box Live (not to mention some killer shooting games). . . But thanks to Steam this reign may be about to end.
Steam now has more than 65 million active accounts. 65 million! This is a 30 percent rise in players in just the last year. On any given day Steam may have more than 6 million concurrent users. Microsoft’s X-box Live has 48 million accounts — around half of whom reportedly paid extra for a gold subscription.
Steam has 17 million more accounts than Microsoft’s X-Box Live!
I can almost hear 17 million voices crying out “In your face Microsoft!”
Poor Microsoft, once the king of technology the iPad and Google Android tablets are sucking life out of its key computing model, and now Steam is taking a bite out of its lauded gaming throne!
Steam is not new. Steam has been around for 10 years. There was a time I hated Steam because of the complexity it took to download games — if they even worked at all after you went through the trouble to download Steam and then download a game. . .
Ten years is a long time in tech years. Most tech companies who survive that long have come to prominence and then decline — if they ever became a leader in the first place.
The success of Steam in keeping up with technology and even leading it contrasted with so many high tech companies who lay in the graveyard of technology past brings to mind Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore and Regis McKenna. The concept of the chasm of dead products that either never make it to main stream or hit it and then rapidly die out was brilliant. Moore and McKenna said there is a chasm between the early adopters of a new technology product, mainstream users — and then finally the late adopters. In the “old days” a product could be designed and last a lifetime (more than a lifetime — think of something like a shovel or a hammer — how long have those tools been around). Now think about how Math technology went from a slide ruler to a calculator to Lotus 1-2-3 to Microsoft Excel to an app on your cell phone or tablet. . . That product life cycle just gets faster and faster — and companies rise and fall so rapidly it makes your head spin!
Valve is innovating so it shouldn’t fall into the chasm any time soon. Valve (owner of Steam) announced a new operating system. SteamOS is a Linux-based (bypassing Microsoft) operating system — a navigation solution for gaming PCs in the living room. It can be installed on any PC (and it’s free). SteamOS will be the operating system powering the physical Steam Machines that Valve will soon be shipping to eager gamers. The Steam Machine is supposed to be its ability to stream games from your regular gaming PC to any TV.
Valve also announced a new game controller. The Steam Controller has two clickable high-resolution circular track pads with haptic feedback, which supposed to be precise enough to match gaming keyboards and gaming mice.
Time will tell if Steam will continue to steam roll over its competition — but our high tech world keeps on a changing!
Hal Howard has been promoted to corporate vice president of Microsoft Dynamics ERP Research and Development, from general manager. Hal is an amazing person, who has overseen the four ERP solutions Microsoft acquired years ago Dynamics AX was Axapta, Dynamics GP was Great Plains · Dynamics NAV was Navision, and Dynamics SL was Solomon. . . and the terrific Microsoft Dynamics CRM which is modeled after Microsoft’s email product, Outlook.
I’m very late on my congrats — as this happened in January. Oops, sorry it took me so long to notice, Hal! Still, no one deserves it more.
Speaking of the Dynamics family, there is news on that front from Convergence 2010 Europe. Both the ERP products and the CRM offer have done very well, and the CRM product has penetrated the Fortune 500 — not its initial target. It was initially aimed at small and medium sized businesses. Unlike many CRM platforms, Dynamics does not cost a fortune to implement. The “big boy” CRM suites cost at least $1 in professional services to integrate it and customize it for every $1 spent on the purchase.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM integrates with Outlook so most people can be productive on day one — it is not a huge learning or integration curve — although it can be customized and integrated if need be. Now at Convergence 2010 Europe the long awaited cloud (SaaS — software as a service) version is said to be available very soon.
This aims Microsoft Dynamics CRM squarely at Salesforce.com — the leader in SaaS CRM. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online will have launch events sometime in January 2011. The beta of Dynamics CRM 2011 is currently available, having been released in September. If you want to check it out, now is a perfect opportunity!
Since this blog is about making money (or saving money) with technology — which is the goal of good customer relations facilitated by CRM — definitely take a look at the beta of CRM 2011 and also consider the very attractive promotional price for Dynamics CRM Online of $34 (31 Euros) per user per month for the first year of service. This price is available to new customers and will start when Dynamics CRM Online is launched in January. The offer will end on June 30, 2011.
Again, congratulations Hal!
Years ago, I ran product management for several industry specific CRM data warehouses (in other words, business intelligence) for Teradata . My team worked with large Teradata customers including Wal-Mart, Bell South (now AT&T), Delta and Continental Airlines and other household names who were using Teradata to locate all their customer data and compile it in a system capable of analyzing customer buying trends. The goal was to increase cross selling and up-selling to existing customers as well as to retain them (at least the profitable ones!). Data mining (“what if I did X instead of Y”) type analysis could help target new customers as well.
It was interesting, and profitable. The customers targeted in different market segments (like Retail, Banking, Telecom, Travel, Hospitality and Healthcare) saved money because they did not have to “tweak” generic systems to their industry variances. It was profitable for Teradata, because a good chunk of development could be spread over multiple customers instead of starting from “scratch” each time.
No CRM solution can be 100% “off the shelf” — even for small businesses. There are certain things that are unique to the way a company does business. Yet, the more that can be “out of the box” and functional, the faster the rewards and the easier to get it up and running.
The reason I’m traveling down memory lane is because last week I received an email from Lauren Carlson, a CRM Market Analyst. She wondered if I’d be interested in blogging on the topic of industry specific CRM applications built around Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
If you’ve read my blog for awhile you may know I am a big fan of Dynamics CRM. My curiosity was raised so I check out her blog, “Microsoft Dynamics CRM Industry Solutions: Our 15 Favorites.” Since there are over 750 industry solutions built around Dynamics CRM this was quite an undertaking!
For easy navigation, the article links each industry to its corresponding solution:
If you take a look at any of these solutions for your industry segment heed these warnings: check out the vendor’s track record for keeping up to date with Dynamics CRM. Any time you have a third party “adding value” to another vendor’s product they can begin to slip behind in updates. Suddenly your third party application may not work with newer releases. Also, in your contract with the third party ask what happens if they go out of business. Any customer / vendor relationship is a bit like a marriage — so go into your relationship with your eyes wide open, and a pre-nup in hand!
It also behooves you to check some happy users who have been with the third party independent software vendor (ISV) for a few years, to make sure the customer support and “bug fixes” are fast and relatively painless. Keep in mind that you are paying a premium for the value add of the industry specific application (although you may get a discount on the CRM software) — do your due diligence to determine if the value you will get makes the additional cost of the third party application cost effective for your business.