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Mobile is clearly a big disruptive force in technology, but what markets will it disrupt and how?
Although most of us already have smartphones (in the West), a lot of what we do on those smartphones, such as surfing and email, is like talking heads on early TV. What are the mobile-native use cases that will disrupt major markets?
An early mobile-native use case made the headlines when Facebook acquired WhatsApp; this was mobile messaging replacing a lot of emails and browser based social networking. Facebook has spent $19bn to declare this “game over”. They may be right (I don’t think they are, but that’s another story), but entrepreneurs certainly want to go after markets where they don’t face a tough, agile behemoth like Facebook.
Fortunately there are still plenty of other mobile opportunities where you don’t need to deal with Facebook as a competitor. One of these “blue ocean” opportunities is “enabling enterprise rainmakers”. Outside Sales is one example of enterprise rainmakers; they are critical to making the transition from brilliant product to great company. These folks tend to not follow rigid processes; they innovate every day, using Big Data and Social Media to figure out what to do next. The good ones spend most of their time out of the office, so they live on their mobile devices.
One of the most interesting companies in this space is Clari. They were still in stealth mode when I was reviewing Salestech innovators here and here on ReadWrite. Since that time they raised a $20m Series B and are clearly on a roll and the market they are in is hot. Within days of Clari’s funding announcement was the news that Salesforce had snapped up RelateIQ and the CEO of Clari was writing a blog post entitled Did RelateIQ Sell to Salesforce Too Soon?
For RelateIQ, the answer was no, their timing was good. I am sure they could see Clari coming in their rearview mirror. In Enterprise-land, the second best technology with the best distribution often wins and in the CRM market, Salesforce has distribution nailed.
My assumption when I first saw Clari was that CRM was simply their market entry strategy to a much broader market of enterprise rainmakers who make a big difference mainly because they spend more time away from their desk than at their desk.
My work is teaching sales organizations the forgotten art of thought-leadership selling, which is another way of saying teaching how to be an enterprise rainmaker. This is an outside sales world. This world is not interesting to CRM vendors because the unit numbers are tiny. One rainmaker may transform the fortunes of a start-up but how many rainmakers are there and does it matter what CRM system they use?
The unit numbers today are at the intersection of Marketing Automation and Inside Sales, which is growing according to this expert on inside sales writing in Forbes:
“Over the past three years, inside sales grew at a fifteen times higher rate (7.5% versus .5% annually) over outside sales, to the tune of 800,000 new jobs.”
Inside Sales is all about big scalable processes, the world of CRM, Marketing Automation and Call Centers. If you price per seat (as most CRM vendors do), Inside Sales is much more interesting than Outside Sales.
Inside Sales is not really a mobile play; these folks work in the office at big screens.
However Outside Sales are only one example of Enterprise Rainmaker. Think of M&A bankers and VCs. Or think of the senior executives guiding the company; the best ones are out talking to employees, customers, partners and investors.
It might be better to call all these folks “difference-makers”. They are the ones who make a difference to your business. It is the rainmakers who do their work outside the office who will drive this. They can choose their own tools because they are rainmakers. They choose mobile tools because they do most of their work outside their office.
These rainmakers do not work alone. This is where Mobile intersects with Big Data/Data Science and becomes an enterprise story. The rainmakers are out there interacting with people in the market, but they are in touch with support teams “back at base”. In the case of outside sales people, they maybe working with a sales manager who can provide “just in time coaching” because the manager can see precisely where they are in a sales cycle and when they are available to talk after a meeting. Or they may work with sales operations folks, who rustle up the precise support they need at that point in time (such as collateral, data, demo, contact).
Clari has this nailed for sales teams. However I want to explore the broader market opportunity beyond sales teams.
The concept of a point-person with a back-up team is like a surgeon who is supported by nurses, anesthetists and others. The same is true for M&A bankers and VCs, who have analysts crunching data and assistants making contact requests happen.
These rainmakers and their backup teams are the key enterprise “resource”, so it is possible to think of these systems as the next generation of ERP.
The concept of enterprise rainmaker goes much further than today’s well-paid enterprise professionals. This is where the market intersects with other disruptions such as Internet of Things and Quantified Self.
This is more speculative. The actual implementations are not yet visible (I would love to hear from entrepreneurs working in this area).
In Healthcare, think of the market of personal trainers, nurses, caregivers, emergency response workers and physiotherapists who come to your home. Let’s call them health-makers. The market is strong due to the demographics of ageing populations.
The health-makers back-up team is critical. The health-makers can assess the patient using good old-fashioned analog tools known as the four senses (eyes, ears, smell, touch). This old-fashioned “data” can be augmented by data from devices attached to the patient (“quantified self”) and analyzed on the spot by experts across the globe; The back-up team has access to Big Data to compare this patient with millions of similar patients. This will be real time healthcare in action, not waiting weeks for results and another appointment. This will happen first in markets where the regulation allows skilled practitioners such as nurses to perform tasks that today can only be done by doctors (who are too important to come to you unless you are really rich).
The Health-Maker opportunity is much bigger on a user unit basis than Enterprise Rainmakers. It may also disrupt one of the biggest markets out there – Healthcare. However there may be an even bigger market. We all need help getting our bodies fixed (aka Healthcare) but what about our homes and all the stuff in our homes? As our homes become more wired and digitized with sensors sending data, the person who comes to fix something may come equipped with a smartphone linked back to Big Data systems – and may come before you have even noticed the problem. This will create a whole new generation of services and, now that service is the new marketing, create significant new revenues for many consumer products companies.
These front line people will become the new rainmakers. They are the brand experience as far as consumers are concerned. How well empowered they are by data will be key to enterprise competitiveness in future.
Enabling these new kinds of services will not need great mobile user experiences that are linked to cloud-based data systems and applications. This will need a new generation of application platforms that deliver context aware data just in time to the front line “rainmaker”.