Big Data 2Big data is a buzzword that is ambiguous and often misunderstood. But it also feels like it could be the next big thing. To open up my perspective I found myself stepping outside the echo chamber of Silicon Valley. I enrolled in a class at the Aspen Institute called Socrates. They pull together a group of around 20 people from diverse backgrounds to spend a couple days digging into a topic and sharing their experiences.

No one in my group was a specialist in big data – we had a person who worked for a family office, a mayor’s office, an investment bank, a major consulting firm, an online advertising company, a hospital, the DEA, and of course I was there as the token enterprise software guy. Prior to the seminar, we had all studied a set of fascinating readings that ranged from the story of Socrates struggling with the advent of the written word, to the implications of a world where every detail is known.

Salesforce_Logo_2009 (1)Originally posted on PandoDaily by Jamie Grenney

When I joined Salesforce.com in 2002, the question we were trying to answer was “Why isn’t all enterprise software as easy to use as Amazon.com?” That simple idea gave rise to a billion dollar business.

The cloud-computing model was so disruptive because it dramatically reduced the risk and lowered the total cost of ownership for software. For the first time, companies of all sizes were able to successfully adopt CRM systems. Today I believe we are on the precipice of another disruptive shift. One that is going to unfold quickly and unlock huge productivity gains for companies.

My co-founders and I were ecstatic — we had just closed our $10m Series A round with top investors. Our two years of developing a great product in stealth mode and achieving profitability with key customers had culminated into a fantastic financing milestone. We finalized a launch date and put the wheels in motion for our first press announcement and coming out party. Little did we know we were about to begin a whirlwind roller coaster ride, during which we re-branded our company in just four weeks – naming, logo, website and all.

During my startup’s early days, we had little time to prioritize branding. In fact, we initially incorporated the company as “Party On Data,” which in introductory meetings would always result in ten minutes of questions about why. Soon after, we renamed our company to “Slice Data” and purchased slice-data.com (because slicedata.com wasn’t available). During our preparation for launch, it occurred to me that we should get the hyphen-less URL now that we had the funds, so I checked the domain again and it looked like a ghost town owned by two young guys in India. I figured the U.S. dollar would go far there, and we’d be able to purchase it fairly easily and quickly. Boy was I wrong.

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As we’ve been building Infer’s predictive lead scoring engine over the past three years, we’ve also been following many brilliant thought leaders who are contributing to a range of discussions near and dear to our hearts. So in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we thought it’d be fun to survey our team on their favorite influencers in the space, and send some love their way. We’ve compiled part of that list below — spanning experts in the realms of CRM, marketing technology and general marketing and sales best practices. Our list of top data science and predictive analytics experts is published here.

Paul Miller of Cloud Data produced a great 40 minute podcast with Vik Singh. Below we’ve featured three questions that really stood out. 

  • Tell me about Infer?
  • How is sales and marketing changing?
  • How is the industry as a whole shaping up?

GigaOmWhen I joined Salesforce.com in 2002, the question was, why isn’t enterprise software as easy to use as Amazon.com? That simple idea transformed an industry and gave rise to a $24 billion dollar business. With enterprise cloud computing, the technical barriers to CRM adoption were overcome, providing a clear path to CRM success.

A little more than ten years later, I believe we are on the precipice of another disruptive shift. The question we are asking today is, why aren’t companies able to operate with the same data-driven intelligence as an Amazon? As I see it, there are at least two major obstacles holding us back.

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“Data is the New Oil” has become a pretty tired phrase, and a strangely circular one — nowhere has advances in data practices and technology had more impact than in the search for oil. Maybe “Data is the New Oil for Finding Oil?”
For those of us in B2B Sales and Marketing, a more interesting analogy is between Oil and Customers. Customers are what we seek, our goal, the thing that — when we find them — pays.  For us, Customers are the (New) Oil. 

The early days of the American Oil industry was dominated by Wildcatters, folks who acted on hunches or rules of thumb and drilled speculative wells. If a well was dry, they tried again somewhere else, continuing until, hopefully, they eventually hit a gusher.