The State of the Cloud for investors

Presentation of the State of the Cloud based on Bessemer Venture Partners annual research

In continuation to the Tech Trends, I wanted to share with you what I did also told investment bankers about this market close to my heart. I used an excellent report issued by Bessemer Venture Partners as a source.

So much has changed in just 20 years. As of February 2020, there are more than 86 private cloud unicorns. On February 5, 2020, the cloud market value surpassed the $1 trillion market capitalization, with a 45% growth rate.

Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) are 2 areas of the cloud to be looked at in more depth. Vendors like Microsoft, Salesforce, Adobe, SAP, Oracle for SaaS, and Amazon, Azure, or Google for IaaS are the dominating giants.

We’re living in a cloud-first world. While many would say software is eating the world, I think that’s only half the story. Cloud is powering the future of software.

At current growth rates, the cloud could penetrate nearly all enterprise software in a few years. Bessemer Venture believes that the cloud industry ($172 billion), and the cloud delivery model, will transform and grow beyond enterprise software ($456 billion) and technology ($3.7 trillion). 

“The cloud is becoming as fundamental to how the world runs as the electric grid, telecom network, or the railroad”

Aaron Levie, CEO of Box

The cloud has already moved beyond the enterprise software market and will continue to, as we turn toward the cloud for transportation, healthcare, education, and more.

What is your take? Please comment and engage.


All my videos are also available on my YouTube channel.

2021 Tech Trends and the Pandemic Impact on the business

I was given to present last week to investment bankers, and wanted to share what I covered about 2021 Tech Trends and the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the business adoption of tech innovations. I based this presentation on McKinsey’s publications and research.

I eluded to:

  • Cloud (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, DaaS),
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI/ML),
  • Internet of Things (IoT),
  • High Connectivity (5G),
  • Trusted Architectures (BlockChain),
  • Robots, Cobots and RPA
  • Software 2.0.
  • 3D / 4D Printing
  • and more…

Will your organization make the most of these trends to pursue new heights of rapid innovation, improved performance, and significant achievement?

“In the next decade, we’ll experience more progress than in the past 100 years combined.”

Peter Diamandis,
Cofounder of the Singular University

But what did the COVID 19 pandemic did introduce in the digital transformation, apart from accelerating its adoption, typically 3-7 years of forecasted adoption in just a few months of lockdown?

  • Digital Adoption
  • Accelerate core business pace
  • Build new digital business models
  • Achieve 20%+ revenue with product and services that didn’t exist one year ago

Share of sales from products or services not existing 1 YEAR ago (%)

Top Performers 21%
All Others 12%

According to McKinsey and the 1,200 executives they interviewed, companies with better overall technology capabilities, talent, leadership, and resources are seeing better economic outcomes.

Top economic performers were more innovative than their peers during the COVID-19 crisis.

Reporting on the online survey conducted from January 19 to January 29, 2021, and garnered responses from 1,140 C-level executives, senior managers, and business-unit, department, or division heads representing the full range of regions, industries, company sizes, and functional specialties.

McKinsey’s results confirm not only that a strong technology foundation is critical but also that leading companies are far ahead of competitors in building theirs. For everyone else, the time is now to make bold investments in technology and capabilities that will equip their businesses to outperform others in a rapidly evolving landscape.

Feel free to engage, comment and ask me to cover other topics. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more.

Data + AI is the new customer experience (CX) currency: adapting to the accelerating pace of customer changes

Data + AI = New Customer Experience Currency?

I do speak to a lot of marketers and CX practitioners around the globe about the fast pace of customer changes – which has been accelerated by COVID-19. Bring to it, technology and regulatory changes, and it certainly comes as an interesting time to be leading a deep transformation and make your business thrive in today’s world.

Today, being committed to customer-centricity is more important than ever for a brand. So improved management of customer data is the key component to success.

In  2019 Mcdonald’s invested $300M in acquisition for Dynamic Yield, an Israeli AI company specializing in personalization and decision logic technology, and again for Apprente a silicon Valley AI-powered speech understanding company.

Why is the world’s largest fast-food chain buying tech startups?

McDonald’s realized that the ability to detect customer signals quickly, to make offers, and to deliver them across digital channels are essentials to win in their industry.

The first application of the technology appeared in McDonald’s drive-thrus by optimizing the digital menu board. The features included detecting the customers, their car type, the people sitting in the car, factoring in seasonality and the time of day. AI is driving the selections on the menu board. Instead of an overwhelming 35 items, only 7 of the most likely items to be selected are displayed based on past preferences and patterns. The result: orders are placed faster, and both the average order size and the volume of cars able to get through at peak meal times increased. Taking into account that McDonald’s’ owns 38,000 locations, this represents real revenue.

The next steps are the extension of personalization capabilities to in-store kiosks and McDonald’s mobile app. McDonald’s gets that customer experiences must be personalized and fuelled with data. McDonald’s gets that investing in technologies – AI, real-time customer data, and digital personalization – can deliver strategic competitive advantage.

Where does this acceleration come from? Have companies already used data to bridge the CX gap?

The sanitary crisis we are all going through has accelerated existing trends about CX transformation. As McKinsey reckons: “Indeed, recent data show that we have vaulted five years forward in consumer and business digital adoption in a matter of around eight weeks.”

But what are these major trends?

  1. Experiences define value – more than goods and services.  “The burger was good, but it was great how they knew what I wanted”
  2. The customer is the innovator – the real innovator today is the consumer, whether digital native or like me, digital immigrant. We’re all trying new devices, channels and subscribing to services. Change is a constant. And this applies to B2C consumers and B2B buyers.
  3. Customer journeys are non-linear and unpredictable – we use a mix of digital and physical channels now, often in the same transaction. Today, we talk about digital, physical, and even “phygital”. Customers also want to transact in channels you don’t own like What’s App, Messenger, WeChat, or Smart Speakers.

At all stages of the customer journey — discovery, engagement, consumption, or service — brands should provide  the ability to whoever is to interact with the customer next, including automated touchpoints :

  • the context and channel for the best interaction possible,
  • what to know, say and do

This will in turn provide the most effortless customer experience possible, measured ideally with the Customer Effort Score (CES). Tracking and improving the CES improves associated metrics naturally like Net Promoter Score (NPS), customer satisfaction score (CSAT), and more.

How can we make it happen? Where to start?

I’ve been asked these questions many many times. My answer has invariably been articulated along these lines: start with the data!

  1. Break internal silos and walk the talk of customer centricity: create a central repository (MDM)that combines all of the data you can gather from every department in your business about your customers — front and back-office altogether. This is called 1st party data. This challenge is a matter of logistics and agenda rather than a technology one. If you can, add your ecosystem’s customer data as well, called 2nd party data.
  2. Augment your holistic customer data with the signals they leave all over the digital realm and outside of your own digital “real estate”. This is often referred to 3rd party data. This is heavy-duty as you will be looking at something like 40,000 data points per individual. Aim to collect it the closest to real-time as possible, as you don’t want to miss any of the micro-moments sparkling the customer journey. Each time an individual uses their mobile device to make a decision, take action about going somewhere, knowing, doing, or buying something, your brand should proactively be there in the very micro-moment.
  3. Apply intelligence to your customer data to be able to determine what would be the next best interaction with each of them, in what context, on what channel and who or what in your organization should be delivering it: digital marketing, eCommerce, sales, customer service, … In this area, given the volume of data and the impatience we all developed as individuals, AI and Machine Learning will be your best friends. Ask McDonald when in doubt!
  4. Automate these CX interactions as much as you can, don’t forget about the increasing usage of conversational UI like chatbots, instant messaging, and voice devices. Create consistent digital-first experiences across all channels.
  5. Cultivate authenticity in your interactions as emotions play an important role in customers’ decisions making, personalize every customer interaction across the customer journey taking advantage of the many CX technology vendors as they offer powerful means to help you make it happen.

Data comes from many different touchpoints and activities you can and should conduct:

  • optimizing the website,
  • automating marketing communications,
  • streamlining online commerce and optimizing product ordering and fulfillment,
  • driving efficiencies in in-store POS systems,
  • implementing and upgrading contact centers to better help support customers needs,
  • monitoring and billing for the usage of the products you sell,
  • creating loyalty programs to connect with your most valuable customers

Don’t be shy, be bold!

Overall, reconnect with your customers’ right brain! Do not only rely on demographics, historic data, and other left-brain data-driven methods to evolve the offered experience, but opt for real-life immersion in your customer’s view of the world to address their real pains, and offer value they will perceive vs. your competitors. What the sanitary crisis taught all of us, is that the past does not predict the future in terms of customer behavior. We should always be listening with empathy.

Don’t be shy, be bold! Let’s even try even to challenge your CEO to experience what happens when connecting to customers in real life. In this area, using some design thinking methods could be of great help.

I would be delighted to hear from your own experience and help you during this endeavor. Feel free to reach out.

Article initially published on CX Buzz

Do you have courage to lead for good? Can you make a decision at a $2B cost to be true to your values? CVS did and their business is better off!

I’m a big fan of Simon Sinek, as I guess many of you. I stumbled this morning on this video of his about courage to lead and it reinforced my belief that, just to start, public companies should be publishing their results in the form of a Triple Bottom Line (3BL): People, Planet and Profit.

Don’t you also sell cigarettes in your stores Mrs. CVS?

Simon reminded me about this fascinating story about CVS, the pharmacist in the US, facing a tough decision to make in the journey of becoming a health company, CVS Health, from a drugstore chain. This transformation was lead by Helena Foulkes, Exec VP at the time. Inc reported about her speech at the Conscious Capitalism Leadership here.

CVS had a vision statement expressed pretty much as “We are to protect the health of our employees and customers”. Repeatedly, in meetings with hospitals and doctors discussing potential partnership, towards the end of these meetings someone would say: “Don’t you also sell cigarettes in your shops?

Imagine the face of CVS’ execs… Foulkes explains that CVS had always sold cigarettes in their drugstores, they made money out of it: $2B to be precise. Making the decision to ban cigarettes from all stores was a tough one to make in light of short term profits but congruent with the mission statement, the hiring and retaining of millennials, attracting HR and Insurance partners but also simply because it was the right thing to do for society’s health!

And so they went ahead in 2014, removing all cigarettes from their stores. Wall Street did welcome the move by slashing the stock, analysts “predicting” dark days for CVS and no change for cigarette consumption. It turned out that cigarette sales didn’t all go somewhere else, despite competitors like Walgreen’s and Rite Aid using all kinds of reasons to “think about it further”, CVS’s courage paid off.

CVS revenue by the end of 2014, in spite of drugstore losses, increased circa 10% with operating profit growing above 4% and CVS stock peaked at all-time high in 2015.  The pride of employees, customer loyalty and advocacy made it happen.

Changing economy foundational values for a better world? 3BL made mandatory?

This amazing story highlights the biggest challenge business leaders are facing today: building organizations making money AND meaningful change at the same time.

“There’s clearly a sense of the need in the business community to modify capitalism in some way, to redefine it, and to re-establish it in the public imagination as a force for good.”

said Alan Murray, the managing editor at Fortune.

Hence my belief to make 3BL mandatory for public companies by the major stock exchange markets as an integral part of the companies quarterly results publication. It would in turn provide all investors with transparent information about what companies real impact is on people, planet and profit. Maybe it would ignite a virtuous circle of investors asking themselves: “At similar prospective financial returns, shouldn’t we invest in the best 3BL possible?”

True information creates education and what leaders are doing inspires. Millennials to start, they are already over 60% of decision makers in Tech, care about companies purpose — that is true purpose not green washing easily spotted. Zeno reports, out of a 2020 research interviewing more than 8,000 people , that consumers are four to six times more likely to buy from, trust, champion, and defend companies with a strong Purpose.

What are we waiting for? Let’s have the courage to lead for good!

So what are we waiting for to make Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) core to our businesses? Not just appointing a chief CSR like corporation did appoint CDOs because business leaders didn’t know how to handle digital transformation. The wake up call COVID sent their way was brutal.

Let’s not wait for the brutal wake up call greenhouse gas emission is to send us in a few decades! Let’s genuinely act now upon the biggest challenge mankind faces. This generation — as the last generation to be able to do something about climate change before it’s too late — can address with the means at our disposal: courage to lead for good!

Happy to discuss it with you, feel free to comment and share ideas below.

Do you think you’re connected to your customers? Really? Do you think they agree? Let’s check…

When was the last time you heard in a strategic meeting some defining statement from your execs like: “We are customer-centric”, “Every decision in this meeting should be made based on customer insight”, “Customer First!”, etc.? Feels good? Do you think your customers perceived any value out of it? Did you check?

Do you capture customers’ emotion besides customer data?

Are you connected with your end customers?

Answering this question, most execs or managers from these meetings would answer with a big YES! Actually, based on a Cap Gemini Research out of 600 executives, 75% of organizations believe themselves to be customer-centric. So, you’re not alone. But when interviewing for the same research 3,000 consumers, the reality check was brutal: only 30% did agree!

After more than a year into the pandemic, this trend did not slow down. On the contrary, the customer disconnect for a lot of businesses was brutal, especially for all companies still going through their digital transformation, let alone the ones that did not aggressively start it — but this is the minority few laggards.

In my world of Tech B2B, Trust Radius reckons:

“Due to the pandemic, 33% of buyers spent more time researching products before making a purchase this year. 49% of buyers spent time doing extra research because of data security concerns.”

The 2021 B2B Buying Disconnect annual TrustRadius research

Chances are the strategies your brand had in motion need to be revisited, relying solely on customer data will probably not be enough. Were you curious to compare repeat customers’ data with Net Promoter Score (NPS) of these same customers? Was it congruent? Not necessarily right? The reason is maybe that these repeat customers had an expensive barrier to exit, so they kept buying from your brand. But when asked by their peers whether it’d be a good idea to buy something from your company they said: don’t buy this solution at the risk of being trapped for many years. I hope not, but do yourself a favor: double-check.

If you’re looking for a wider perspective about how COVID-19 did change customer behavior in Tech, here is a good view of time spent by them during their buying journey coming from the same TrustRadius research:

How COVID-19 Impacts the Amount of Time Buyers Spend on Different Activities in the Buyer's Journey | TrustRadius
It reinforces a trend I wrote about previously highlighting that B2B buyers would spend only 17% of their purchasing journey time with ALL potential suppliers’ sales reps (from Gartner).

As a matter of fact, if customers and prospects tend to spend less time with representatives from your company, how do you think you’re being more connected with your customers? Do you start to feel the same pain I’m feeling?

How to reconnect to your customers?

There are several factors widening the customer disconnect, without being exhaustive let’s list some here:

  • Digital is prevailing in the buying journey
  • B2B brands are not engaging enough with the end customer, they should seek for a more B2B2C stance
  • Millennials are becoming a majority of the buyers, 60% in the Tech B2B world as an example
  • Customer loyalty is driven primarily by trust (43%), simplicity and convenience (24%) i.e. more driven by their right brain
  • Fatigue developing from a customer experience that didn’t evolve enough
  • The incoherence of the engagement through all the customer touchpoints as a result of the vendor’s departmental silos
  • Not taking enough into consideration customers behavior and emotions compared to customer data (left brain driven strategies)

I would have many things to write about reconnecting with your customers, and I will certainly do this in future posts. One punch line would capture the essence of my state of mind today:

Reconnect with your customers’ and employees’ right brain!

To be continued…

Please share your own perspective and experiences about this in commenting or responding to this post.