How I Used IT Central Station to Learn About Cloud-Based CRM Solutions

This user testimonial is based on an interview with Aimee White, an active IT Central Station user who has regularly benefited from our real user reviews of enterprise tech solutions.

In her own words, Aimee explains “I always rely on online reviews for purchasing decisions – wisdom of crowds and all.”

In this interview, Aimee discusses how she has used IT Central Station for researching CRM solutions, particularly Salesforce.

On our site, the CRM category is followed by 3,489 users and includes 44 CRM solutions on the enterprise tech market.

Aimee works as a Prince2 Practitioner with ITIL v3 It Service Management for website and e-commerce at a retail company.

In this particular use case, Aimee describes “I was looking at Salesforce. I never liked it but I am using a CMS that they have just purchased (Demandware – used by Adidas, House of Fraser, Pandora, Under Armour, etc) so I was sort of forced to look into Salesforce a little more.

I wanted a high-level overview at a glance and that’s what the reviews give me.”

Which Pain Points Were You Looking to Solve with Salesforce Sales Cloud?

“It was more that I wanted to recommend a cloud-based CRM that is used by a huge chunk of businesses, to good effect. The pain points are more about a lack of internal processes – often can be solved by going out to the cloud and having a black box.”

What are Your Most Frequent Reasons for Using IT Central Station?

“I am using IT Central Station now to research CRMs. While it won’t stop me recommending a product to a client, it is more about finding out the problems that the client could experience. It’s about digging up the things “you don’t know you don’t know. So, for me, it’s about risk management.”

Which Knowledge Gaps Were You Looking to Fill in Your CRM Research?

“I was looking for high-level reviews and some high-level info on features and problems. All apps have issues but most seem to lie in the implementation and/or lack of internal processes of an organization. For me, those points are for the organization to deal with. What a CRM “can” do, is my area.”

About Aimee:

Aimee has been a member of IT Central Station since 2013, where she has published 14 product reviews and has earned the ranking of “Elite Squad Member” on our site.

Aimee is ranked the #1 expert in 14 different product leaderboards:

Aimee is ranked the #1 expert in 17 different category leaderboards:

Aimee has also published eight different IT Central Station projects:

Read what other IT Central Station users have to say about CRMs in our full collection of CRM reviews.

Safra Catz, Mule, Okta, and Who Else Rocked It In Enterprise Tech This Week

The surprise story of the week came from Oracle CEO Safra Catz when she showed that Oracle is more than delivering on its cloud plan, with a knockout 3rd quarter. She said that Oracle’s cloud sales were up 62 percent, higher than expected (granted from a much smaller base than AWS). Let’s see if they can keep it up. When I attended at Oracle OpenWorld just six months ago, I heard lots of skepticism about Oracle’s ability to take on Amazon in the cloud wars. With Amazon’s recent stumble with the S3 outage and Oracle’s early execution, Amazon looks vulnerable, at least for now.

But really, this past week in enterprise tech can be summed up in three letters: I-P-O.

Okta CEO Todd McKinnon and CMO Ryan Carlson announced that the company has filed to go public. Okta first started in the SSO (single sign-on) software market and has since significantly widened its product offerings. Okta competes with CA, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and Symantec, and RSA on the authentication side. For instance, see Okta vs CA SSO. Okta is ranked #3 in our crowdsourced list of best SSO software. Additionally, Okta competes with Citrix and VMware on the mobility management side.

Alteryx CEO Dean Stoecker announced that Alteryx, a fast growing SaaS player in the analytics market, has filed for a $75M IPO. Alteryx is a Microsoft Excel killer that competes with IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, SAS, TIBCO and MicroStrategy. Based on Alteryx reviews from the IT Central Station community, the product has a 4.3 star rating out of five stars.

The IPO hat trick was topped off with the long-awaited IPO of Mulesoft which popped 46% on its first day. Congrats to Mulesoft CEO Greg Schott, and Mulesoft founder Ross Mason for building a great company. Mulesoft is in the unsexy but lucrative API management software market and competes with TIBCO, IBM, Oracle, CA, Apigee, SnapLogic. TIBCO and Apigee are more pure-play competitors — TIBCO was acquired by Vista Equity in 2014 for $4.3B and Google acquired Apigee for $625M in 2016. (See Mulesoft vs Apigee.) In a recent Mulesoft review, an IT Central Station member wrote about his experience comparing Mulesoft with Apache Camel and TIBCO. He writes that “TIBCO was much more expensive than Mulesoft and not so easy to configure. Apache Camel lacked of web management console.”

On the flip side, Citrix CEO Kirill Tatarinovis looking to sell the company and has retained Goldman Sachs to assist in the process. Citrix is not growing like those IPO rockets, but it has some rock solid technology as it is ranked #3 in the desktop virtualization software market and ranked #2 in application delivery controller (ADC) vendors.

Meg Whitman, Dianne Green, Ginni Rometty, And Others Who Rocked It This Week in Enterprise Tech

I’m just back in the office after a knock out week in the Bay Area last week. Spent it meeting a number of our customers in the valley and also at the Summit on Customer Engagement which IT Central Station sponsored. Besides that, there was a whole lot of other interesting developments in the enterprise tech space, many of which were announced by some of the female titans in tech today. Fitting for a week that included International Women’s Day:

Meg Whitman, CEO of HPE, announced that HPE bought Nimble Storage for $1B. Great move by HPE as the enterprise flash storage market is on fire, and Nimble was trading at a low price due to some recent earnings misses. Whether this was an opportunistic move or a strategic one, I think this will be considered one of Meg’s top moves at HPE to date. Among the top enterprise all-flash array vendors, Nimble Storage has a 9.1 ranking (based on 35 Nimble Storage reviews), which is higher than EMC, NetApp, or HPE 3PAR.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty announced with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff a “landmark” strategic partnership between Salesforce and IBM. It’s all about adding predictive intelligence from IBM Watson into the Salesforce platform which sounds to me more about vision than short term business for either company. After putting on this PR show, Salesforce announced shortly thereafter that it missed its expected earnings and sales forecasts, due to greater competition from other cloud software providers.

Diane Greene, SVP of Google Cloud, and Bernd Leukert, an executive board member for SAP products and innovation, announced that SAP has partnered with Google to deliver SAP HANA on Google Cloud Platform. It’s a big win for both SAP and Google. It gives SAP more credibility in its movement to cloud, and it gives Google enterprise chops as it doubles down on the enterprise market (for example, Google’s new Hangouts for Enterprises.)

CA Technologies continues its acquisition spree in the DevOps market. CA President and Chief Product Officer Ayman Sayed announced that CA had bought Veracode. Veracode is most often compared to HPE Fortity, Checkmarx, and WhiteHall Sentinel by IT Central Station reviewers. In a review of Veracode, an IT Central Station member writes “Veracode is not cheap, but it is a tool capable of giving dynamic, static and even manual scan results in one platform. Veracode is one of very few options out there, and the very best.” In terms of room for improvement, he writes that it is lacking “to be able to upload source codes without being compiled. That’s one feature that drives us to see other sources.” Read all Veracode product reviews here.

 

Why Peer to Peer Content is King for Enterprise Technology Marketing

According to Forrester, 74% of B2B buyers are doing more than 50% of their purchasing research online. A recent study done by Gartner also revealed that 68% of a customer’s buying time is spent away from the actual vendor.

Prior to making a purchase, shoppers and potential buyers look to sources other than the company bio or sales rep to get their product information. This is why peer reviews are the major source of information for most consumers today, and have become the ‘smart shopper’s’ “man on the inside.” Peer reviews enable buyers to get a firsthand view of how a product works, its level of quality, and the various features or components being offered — all without actually buying the product.

Why Peer Reviews Resonate with Enterprise Tech Professionals

Consumers see peer reviews as their filter between what the companies want you to believe and what’s accurate about the products or services being sold. This is particularly true for the technology sector, where services or products can easily be hyped up by a skilled marketer, neglecting the buyer’s need for an accountable assessment of features such as speed, integration, and functionality, each of which can only be accurately evaluated through actual experience.

The Gartner research was conducted with enterprise buyers, and indicates that while the peer review trend may have started in the B2C sector, this reality is now just as relevant for B2B companies, and enterprise buyers are regularly using peer reviews as their major purchasing influencer.

Peer reviews are not flawless, though. More prevalent among the technology industry than in the consumer world at large, customers scrutinize online reviews before accepting the material provided as fact. For this reason, there is a growing demand for peer reviews that come from trusted sources, and represent factual and helpful input.

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What IT Central Station Provides to Software Buyers

In our current data-driven and content-consuming generation, the tech industry is steadily adapting to expectations for information that’s not only available on-demand, but is also filtered and validated before readers start devouring it. Peer reviews written by like-minded, authentic users are well-aligned with the standards had by software buyers today.

IT Central Station is the leading enterprise technology review site, the “Yelp” of Enterprise Technology, with a community of 160,000+ technology professionals. Our user reviews are collected from enterprise tech events, conferences, and one-on-one interviews with tech professionals. With an average of 400 words per review, all reviews and user-generated content are validated by our triple-authentic process, and manually assessed for relevance and usability to the enterprise tech professional.

Enabling Well-Rounded Decision Making

With relevant information, accurate reviews, and concise reports, buyers are more equipped with the tools they need to make a well-rounded purchasing decision.

Additionally, IT Central Station distributes your content across relevant social media channels, forums, and industry blogs where your potential buyers are actively browsing. This way, your products are seen in several places, expanding your reach, increasing brand awareness, and giving each of your reviews/products more credibility in the enterprise tech industry.

How to Leverage Negative User Reviews to Increase your ROI

At least 60% of technology software shoppers turn to product reviews for information during their buying process, which is why peer-based product reviews are so essential to a company’s success. What many marketing managers don’t realize is:

It’s not just the positive reviews that are yielding good results; negative reviews can boost your ROI, too.

In a recent study by the Journal of Consumer Research, negative feedback that is correctly-worded leads to increased higher conversion rates. One site noted that companies who had 10-30% negative reviews received 10% more leads than companies with solid, 5-star reviews.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should start scrambling for angry customers and poor reviews. As you can imagine – it’s not as simple as that!

So, how can you leverage negative user reviews into ROI?

Here are 3 lessons for enterprise level technology marketers to leverage negative reviews not only for boosting their customer feedback, but also for increasing conversions.

Lesson #1: Learn from the Best: Your Users

While nobody enjoys criticism, intelligent companies view criticism at face value: an honest and authentic appraisal of how their product is performing and received by users. Negative reviews give your marketing team invaluable insight into what you are doing right and into what you’re doing wrong — from the most influential and pertinent source of all: your users.

Business in today’s tech industry need to utilize agile marketing techniques for constant improvement of their products. In the technology sector, if you aren’t advancing, you are undergoing a speedy demise of outdatedness.

Because negative reviews are specifically generated by your niche audience, these reviews not only help your company by highlighting the areas that need improvement, they provide the most relevant and useful form of feedback.

Utilizing these insights will help you to:

  • Tailor your product to the changing demands of the public
  • Hone in on the shortcomings
  • Craft an applicable plan for improvement.
Lesson #2: Seize the Opportunity for Communication

Any comment made by a customer, even if it’s negative, opens a line of communication between your audience and your company. This is a golden opportunity for you to obtain brand awareness, positive PR, and product insight.

By responding directly to negative feedback, your company shows customers that they are being listened to. Contrarily, ignoring feedback of any sort can portray your business as one that that doesn’t value its customers.

Market research has shown that customers who were responded to ‘correctly’ after a negative experience were much more likely to recommend that business to friends later on.

‘Correct’ Responses to Negative Feedback include:

  • Validating the complaint
  • Asking questions for clarification
  • Apologizing (but without giving excuses or being defensive)
  • Offering solutions
  • (Always) thanking the customer for their time

An interaction that follows the above guidelines will generate positive feelings on the part of the customer as well as create a great image for potential customers in the future.

Lesson #3: Foster Authenticity

When looking to authenticate a brand, consumers look out for the negative comments that supplement the positive ones. When a potential buyer sees a company that boasts hundreds of positive reviews without a single negative comment, they automatically assume the feedback is fictitious. Why? Because no one product offering is flawless, and negative feedback indicates that companies are sincere in their efforts to honor their users’ perspective and improve their product offering.

Furthermore, seeing negative feedback on a website gives customers the impression that your company is an honest one. After all, you have the ability to reject or delete negative comments. By leaving up these less-than-flattering reviews, you show your potential buyers that you are prepared to deal honestly, even if there is a little discomfort on your part in doing so.

With a community of more than 190,000 reviewers, triple-validation for all user reviews, and multiple avenues for gathering feedback, ITCS provides the highest standard for enterprise technology reviews

IT Central Station Wins Deloitte’s Fast 50 Rising Star Award

We are delighted to have been awarded Deloitte’s prestigious Fast 50 Rising Star Award for 2016. The Rising Star selection is part of the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 competition and is awarded to young startups that have the fastest growing revenues.

deloitte-2016-fast-50

Here at IT Central Station our mission is to be the #1 most influential source in the enterprise technology buying process, a $3 trillion annual market.

Reviews and user generated content have a major impact on the B2B tech market. IT Central Station’s dramatic growth since its launch has proven that many buyers want to complement, or replace, the advice from traditional players such as analyst firms, traditional tech media, and independent consultants, with user generated content from their peers. 93% of B2B buyers say that reviews and analysis drive their major purchasing decisions – many of whom have turned to IT Central Station.

IT Central Station now has over 180,000+ tech professionals in our community, and is one of the most trusted online resources for tech decision makers. Read more about our Deloitte’s Fast 50 award here.

LinkedIn Announces Strategic Partnership with IT Central Station

LinkedIn Adds IT Central Station Reviews Into the Feedlinkedin-logo-r

Starting today, reviews on IT Central Station may be shared and brought to life by members while providing product insight on the LinkedIn platform. This new functionality allows reviewers to showcase their unique skillsets, knowledge and expertise with B2B products and services and, likewise, enable brands to promote their customers’ ratings and reviews by spurring meaningful conversations with their LinkedIn followers.

LinkedIn announced the partnership in a blog post:

As today’s business technology solutions landscape grows in complexity, savvy B2B buyers are relying — more than ever — on the opinions and expertise of colleagues, peers and trusted networks when researching and making purchase decisions. LinkedIn recently found that the online rating and review ecosystem plays a significant role in over half of all technology purchases. In fact, 8 in 10 buyers  look outside the tech buying committee for information and council on B2B solutions — with reviews, surveys, and usage stats from fellow technology users making up 51% of these trusted sources. Similarly,  70% of tech buyers are likely to discuss technology solutions or vendors with their professional peers — adding to the importance and prevalence of external discussions about B2B products and services within the technology buying community.

LinkedIn calls it “a win for technology professionals and marketers alike.”

The partnership announcement includes IT Central Station and two others. Read the full announcement here.

What real users are saying about their Oracle solutions

Oracle OpenWorld is happening this week in San Francisco, and Oracle will be announcing new innovations and solutions in the coming days. But what do real users think about Oracle solutions? All this week the IT Central Station team will be at OpenWorld, collecting and showcasing real user reviews for Oracle solutions across all categories.

IT Central Station attends technology events and conferences all over the world to collect authentic user reviews for a wide variety of enterprise technology solutions. By collecting reviews from technology conferences we guarantee user reviews that are from experts in the field, and who can give other users real insight into the solution’s pros and cons. We also collect video reviews from these conferences, to give face-to-face accounts of how technology professionals use a given solution.

What do real users think about Oracle Exadata?

Consultant says, “It’s cost-effective for a lot of organizations. I would rate highly some of the specialized mechanisms that Oracle has put in place. Adaptability is a little bit challenging for the customer because of the licensing and the pricing. That’s where I think they can make a big difference.” 

What do real users think about Oracle OBIEE?

BI Architect, “It’s now much easier for our developers to mash up their repositories from different data sources, create new dashboards, create graphs, and send emails via agents.Oracle needs to make WebLogic much simpler to use. With WebLogic you have a vast number of things in there. If you’re not an OBIEE admin, then you don’t know what you’re doing.”

What do real users think about Oracle Database?

Senior Project Manager, “One of the new features I’ve been using lately is the In-Memory Column Store.”

What are real users saying about Oracle VM VirtualBox?

ERP System Analyst,  “Using a virtual operating system simplifies the installation procedure, system maintenance, and system backup. It allows you to be hardware independent.”

What are real users saying about Mobile Application Framework?

CTO at a tech company says it, “allows me to write code in my preferred coding language and deploy to multiple platforms.”

If you are at Oracle OpenWorld, stop by the IT Central Station Enterprise Tech Peer Review Pavilion to say hi and give a review. You can also real more real user reviews for Oracle solutions at www.ITCentralStation.com.





IT Central Station to Host Enterprise Technology Review Pavilion at Oracle OpenWorld San Francisco

IT Central Station Peer Review Pavilion at Oracle OpenWorld

We are proud to announce that IT Central Station will host an Enterprise Tech Review Pavilion at Oracle OpenWorld 2016. This is the first time an enterprise review pavilion will be held at Oracle OpenWorld. The review pavilion will be located in the South Exhibit Hall of Moscone Center during OpenWorld, taking place September 19-21 in San Francisco.

What is an Enterprise Technology Review Pavilion?

Visitors will be able to access thousands of authentic reviews of enterprise technology products written by real users, and members of the IT Central Station community. We validate all user reviews as authentic using our trademark triple validation process, so we can guarantee that reviews are by real users.

Reviews are available in text and video formats, and cover trending technology areas including cloud computing, SaaS, Big Data, and cybersecurity.

On display at the pavilion will be video peer reviews of Oracle solutions including Oracle Database Cloud, Oracle HCM Cloud, Oracle Cloud Applications, Oracle Private Cloud Appliance, Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle SOA Suite, and other Oracle solutions.

How can you participate?

Visitors to the Review Pavilion will have the opportunity to provide their own user review of an Oracle product or other enterprise tech solution, either via self-service laptop stations or via a one-on-one interview with an IT Central Station community manager.

Want to meet up at OpenWorld?

The IT Central Station Review Pavilion is located in a 1,200 square foot area (#821) in the center of Moscone South. It is open during regular Expo Hall hours.

To schedule a meeting with the IT Central Station team during OpenWorld email us at: oowteam@itcentralstation.com