Tag Archives: Marketing Automation

WIMS Consulting for Funds and Investors

Introducing WIMS Consulting for Funds & Investors: Private Equity, Family Office, Venture Capital & Their Portfolio Companies

Your Fund and it’s Portfolio Companies’ Future Partner for

Marketing, Sales, Finance, Operations, Investor Relations, Development, & More.

Your Private Equity, Venture Capital, or Family Office fund is undoubtedly already great at its core functions. Between raising funds, selecting the right portfolio companies to deploy capital to, and managing the day to day operations we suspect that you’ve got those things covered, or at least you have a solid handle on them.

Where we come in is supporting your fund and its portfolio companies with everything else.

The primary mission of WIMS Consulting is to help your fund and its portfolio companies generate a higher ROI not only internally, but on behalf of your investors as well. We can assist with scaling your investments to help increase valuations in advance of additional funding rounds, liquidity events, exits, or IPOs. We can provide a lot of different services, create and implement a robust strategy, and execute each tactic, but everything that we do truly boils down to that one single objective of adding more value to your firm.

Our approach and work product is all meant to be measurable, KPI (Key Performance Indicator) focused, metrics-based, results-oriented, and top and bottom line enhancing. We are dedicated to staying ahead of the curve by always learning the latest and most innovative best practices along with the most efficient way to implement them.

The role we can play will vary based on your fund/company’s existing and/or desired structure. WIMS Consulting can function as various fully outsourced departments, or as your external CMO, Head of Sales, CFO, support team, etc. Or we can simply act as a consultant/solutions provider on a specific project.

It is our aim to provide concierge level service and be the “easy button” you press when you just need and want to focus on your core functions yet need to get everything else done too.

 

Our Value Proposition the reason we will make a great partner to your fund and its portfolio companies’:

  • Deploy us to help manage and scale your portfolio companies’ in any of the areas we highlight throughout our practice areas.

  • Consolidate various consultants, departments, service providers, and bring under one firm to help streamline operations, maximize areas of expertise, and achieve economies of scale.

  • We help aggregate data across a variety of sources, filter it, and convert these metrics into a compelling story to ensure your investors, board members, management, and stakeholders remain informed and happy with progress across the entire fund and its portfolio companies.

    • Further, when the desired results aren’t achieved and adjustments do need to be made, we ensure that story is told as well, along with preemptively bringing potential solutions to the table.

  • We are entrepreneurs ourselves, yet also worked in the corporate world too. We’ve operated and grown businesses and we’ve led funding rounds. We’ve worked with and for funds directly too. Our team has acquired quite a bit of experience across a variety of stages in the growth cycle of companies and across many industries as well.

Our Services Include:

  • Marketing Strategy & Implementation

    • Fractional CMO

    • Website Development​

    • Marketing Automation

    • Creative – Content Creation & Distribution

    • Data Analytics

  • Sales – Bus Dev/CRM Strategy & Implementation

    • Salesforce.com, Zoho CRM, HubSpot, Microsoft Dynamics, and more.​

    • Lead Generation

    • Sales Strategy and Deployment

  • Finance & Accounting

    • ​Fractional CFO​​

    • Financial Modeling & Forecasting

    • Financial Reporting

    • Accounting & Bookkeeping

  • Operations & Support

    • Investor Relations​

    • Project Management

    • Administrative Support

  • Software & Platform Development

    • Full Stack Software & Platform Development​

    • Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality Platform & Application Development

    • AI & Machine Learning

Visit our website for more information or to set up a call.

 

LDR BRD Level Up Your Business

Level Up Your Business: Introducing the Launch of LDR BRD

The LDR BRD Mission:

We help your business understand and connect with your customers by providing actionable intelligence on consumer behavior. We want you to really know your customers and your market. We give you the power to increase revenue, brand exposure, and increase market penetration by deepening your relationships with your customers.

Whether you’re in the early stages of the concept, have been around for a while, or are currently experiencing a wave of growth, we understand each business has its own unique set of challenges and opportunities and customize our approach accordingly.

We work with you to help reach your destination, while keeping in line with your unique brand, mission, and everything else that makes your restaurant, brewery, coffee shop, winery, retail location, etc. stand out!

What sets LDR BRD apart?

  • Created for the food, beverage, brewery, winery, hospitality, and retail industries.

  • Integrates with your existing systems (or we can help you create them).

    • Data collected from Web, Email, POS, Social Media, CRM, referrals, etc.

  • Tracks customer activity on-site and off-site.

    • ​Financial, Online, In-Person, etc.​

  • Data is then measured, run through filters, and used to identify your most valuable and loyal customers, how they interact with your business, and keeping them engaged with your brand long-term.

 

We have much more to come, but if you’re interested in learning more please visit our website and reach out to discuss!

LDR BRD

Leveling-Up the Loyalty Game – Welcome to LDR BRD By: Tom Schaefer, Jr.

What are those letters? We’ll get to that later, I promise it’s worth the wait. In my previous post, I went on and on about how Loyalty systems don’t work.  At the end of that piece, I explained that loyalty does work, it just seems the retail application was broken. They’re rewarding existing loyalty (which reduces the Lifetime Value, or LTV, of a customer that wasn’t going anywhere) but failing to convert new customers to loyal ones. If there’s something we’ve learned from Star Trek/Wars, Marvel, and even the gaming community, its that consumers crave something they can connect with. The obstacle here is translating what other mediums do well, into a retail or B2C environment.

Janet Robinson, former CEO of the New York Times Company, said it best –

“Repeat business or behavior can be bribed, Loyalty has to be earned”

But what inspires loyalty with your customers? First, we need to separate Customer Loyalty from Brand Loyalty. Customer loyalty comes from the buyer’s power on their own personal spending. They’re likely motivated by lower prices and competitive deals. The loyalty Ms. Robinson is talking about is Brand Loyalty, which is based on perception of the Brand and its value. Brands that focus on excellent quality in product, service, and a cohesive message, are much more likely to inspire loyalty in their customer base.

After all of this research into loyalty/reward programs, I went and did something about it. I created a loyalty platform that ties into the basic fundamentals of building strong brand loyalty. I could tell you all about Aristotle’s 7 causes of human action, defining the 7 ways we make decisions and take actions, or go through some other psychological triggers, but the answer is much simpler than that. Create a quality product or service, provide excellent customer experience, and unify under a strong message. Once that is in place, the rest is as easy as paint by numbers.

My system plays into 4 areas that help grow customer loyalty: Trust, Character, Excitement, and Community. First, we extend the excellent customer experience outside of the standard financial transactions. Using a common platform like a CRM program, helps us stay in touch with our customers, understand their actions, and allows them to provide us with feedback to make their next visit that much better!

 

Enter LDR BRD (but where’d the vowels go?)

I’ve been so excited to share this with everyone! I’ve spent most of my professional life in Sales and Marketing, and leaned on quantitative data for most of my decision making. We use tools like Lead Scoring to determine which people are more likely to buy, and which are just window shopping. Then it hit me…what if we could do the same with loyalty? It’s a messy, qualitative, emotional category that isn’t easy to track. So how do we do it? I took a sample group of people who self-identify as “Brand Loyal” and interviewed them over a couple weeks.  Turns out their actions oftentimes spoke louder than their words. They were more likely to make large purchases from their preferred brand, share with friends and family through word of mouth/social media/online reviews, and fall into the habit of making regular purchases. Loyal customers should make up at least 20% of your base, but will account for 80% of future profits. It’s time to find out who they are (and what they care deeply about)!

 

Ready Player

We took the traditional lead scoring model, and made is public facing. This effectively turns loyalty into a game that adds a competition component to a system that doesn’t separate the loyal customers from passive return business. We have a system in place to track activity both inside and outside the traditional financial transaction. Did someone share a post on social media and tag your business? Get Points! Did someone invite their coworkers or friends to your bar for happy hour? Reward them! Did someone make a large purchase? Don’t let it go unnoticed! Our system also incorporates Feedback Loops (similar to popular games like Fortnite, with each new season giving players a reason to re-engage), so everyone gets a chance to shine, regardless of the previous activity. This allows new customers to feel like they have a chance to benefit in the system, while longer tenured customers continue to benefit from past activities. The purpose of this system is to identify and reward loyal business, all while turning your customer base into your own personal marketing army!

What about the name? I was inspired by the classic video game displays that list the current high scores. The leader board gives new players a number to beat, driving competitive behavior. At the end, you can only use three initials to describe what you are.

Leader Board became LDR BRD.

Are you ready to play?

If you have any questions about LDR BRD or would like to discuss how this platform can transform your business and drive revenues, fill out the form here or email me and let’s talk: tschaefer@wims-consulting.com.

 

CRM Call to Action 2020

Your Annual CRM Call to Action for 2020

I’ve been harping on the importance of CRM programs for about a decade now (here’s the last time), yet it still hasn’t caught on the way it should. This is the year that changes. Like with most technology, competition, economies of scale, and innovation have driven costs down significantly. Not only are they cheaper, but the functionality and value has simultaneously increased dramatically. Now, you can even get basic versions of a CRM program for free. It’s why acquiring and implementing a CRM program is my #1 recommendation for every business, regardless of industry or target market, if you’re looking to increase revenue.

Whether you work for a large and complex company, or if you’re an independent freelancer, or if you’re a sales mercenary who is compensated by getting to “eat what you kill,” there is a CRM program out there for you. Regardless of your budget (or lack thereof), you can customize the level of sophistication of your CRM program, as they all have various subscription levels. Further, there was recently an absolutely game changing announcement from one of my CRM platform preferences (and the one I personally use for my business).

Zoho One – An Operating System for Business

“Zoho One is a broad and cohesive set of applications that work collectively to run an entire business on the cloud. It includes more than 40 web applications and an equal number of mobile apps—under a single sign-on, with centralized administration and provisioning—making it a true operating system for any business. While each application punches above its weight against the competition, collectively they deliver a knockout punch.

With Zoho One, we’ve put together all the applications a company needs to acquire and serve its customers (marketing, sales, automation, and support apps); run its operations (finance, recruiting, and HR apps); and provide all the tools for its employees to work collaboratively and get their work done (office suite, mail, personal productivity, and collaboration apps). Almost any company has these same needs. With Creator, our drag-and-drop app builder, customers can even build custom apps for unique business needs—like logistics scheduling—and put them under the same umbrella that forms the single operating system for their business.

Zoho One is available at $30 a month—or just about a dollar a day, per employee. ($35 if you pay on a month-to-month basis).”

While WIMS, Inc. is platform agnostic (we work with all of them, including SalesforceHubSpotMicrosoft Dynamics, and Insightly among others) it’s getting more difficult not to refer my clients and prospects straight to Zoho right now. There are of course exceptions, but they’ve built something special, particularly for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Now, back to the more general CRM theme.

They all integrate with your email provider of choice, along with most social media channels, so tracking communications is easy (and automated). There are an incredible number of third-party add-ons you can incorporate depending on how robust your operations processes are to add additional functionality too.

Most importantly however, is that the ROI (return on investment) will more than make up for the expense.

CRMs help you automate your sales process. The more automated your sales cycle and follow up efforts can be, the greater volume of deals your business will be able to close. Further, the more accurate data you have about your sales cycle, the more deeply you can analyze it to gain insight that will not only help increase revenue, but ultimately help you improve:

  • Close rates,
  • Customer service and retention,
  • Length of sales cycle, and
  • Forecasting efforts and projections.

While implementing a CRM program can be a significant commitment initially, if you do it right, the benefit to your business is invaluable. With just under two months left in 2019, now is the perfect time to start planning and conduct your due diligence to start 2020 with yet another New Year’s resolution.

We’re here to help if you need it!

4 Ways Analytics Will Improve Your Brewery or Winery Sales

4 Ways Analytics Will Improve Your Brewery or Winery Sales

By Jack Tompkins

Avoid poor performance with some pour analytics!

In the brewery/cidery/wine world, analytics can increase sales, improve customer insights, and most importantly, support and refine your gut instincts!

Whether you sell through a taproom or you have the full restaurant feel with the best beverages in town, analytics can help improve your day to day and leave you time to enjoy some of your very own hard work.

For brewers, if you get creative and dedicated enough (plus some extra equipment), analytics can even have a meaningful impact on the brewing process (shortening the time by a few hours).

For now, though, we’ll focus on making your top sellers even better, building loyalty with customers, and selling the amazing product you’ve already perfected.

#1 Further Identifying Top Performers… and What To Do With Them

You most likely have a pretty good sense of what your top performing drink is, regardless of the analytical power you have available. There’s a good chance that some further analytics could help enhance your top performer’s sales though.

Are those high sellers typically sold at a certain time of day or day of the week? Are they the highlight of the tour? What is typically ordered with them? How do they perform when on sale? Is the top seller also the most profitable?

Getting data supported answers to those kinds of questions can really help you lean into your top sellers and make it the top seller in the state, not just your taproom.

Running promos for your top performer

Using analytics, you can determine how top performers sell on certain nights, days, or times of day. Using this data, you can create promos that target times when the drink sells well and see if it sells phenomenally during the promo (more of a good thing is great, right?). On the flip side, you could try offering the promo when sales are typically a bit down, thus evening out the sales and using your top performers to bolster weaker sales periods.

If either promo works particularly well, you could then try it on some second-tier drinks and see if it helps their sales as well!

Selling your most profitable drink

You and your accountant potentially boil things down to financial metrics on a “per barrel” basis, but what about expanding that thinking to the pint and individual sale level? Is the breakdown of wholesale to taproom sales optimized for profitability? What is your most profitable drink sold in combination with?

You could always include your most profitable drink in an upsell opportunity, use it in promos since it has a higher margin, and pair it with food options that make sense for the customer’s palate and your business’ bank account.

You could also expand this to general menu profitability, but that’s a piece for another article (still heavily relating to analytics though).

What pairs well with that?

Do your bartenders and waitresses get this question a lot? Of course, the safe answer is for them to disregard their own taste buds and go with the popular answer, but it’s sometimes difficult to know that, let alone upsell another item in that context.

With analytics, you can have the two most frequently ordered food items with that drink at the tip of your fingers for a quick and data supported answer that your customers will likely enjoy the most!

Don’t sell food? Everyone sells flights of beers/ciders/wines, and sometimes a combination of all three! The same math applies here – you can quickly say what typical flight combos are or upsell to suggest the most profitable tastings that go with the rest of the flight.

What sells best after a tour?

Maybe it isn’t your top performer. Maybe something in the sales pitch/historical fun fact/story about the creation made it a top tour seller. Analyzing the data can tell you what the financial results of the tour are and help you leverage that experience in other sales points.

The shortened version of that same story could be put to good use at the bar and increase sales there as well!

 

#2 Put Your Marketing Data to Use

There is a lot of power that can come from your audience. Marketing data can give you insights into not just top sellers, but most popular options (not always the same), most talked about drinks and events, highest return on drink-related campaigns, and many other pieces of analytical gold. Just refer to the folks at WIMS for the power of your marketing data.

Pay attention to your marketing avenue’s data and you can develop strong, loyal connections with local residents. If you’re able to identify people who engage with your material most often, wouldn’t you want to encourage that behavior? Throw them a free sample of a new beer or get their opinion on a recent event. Whatever it is, people love to feel appreciated and will maintain loyalty because of it.

Analyzing your marketing data can help find these individuals who love your brand and you can develop a mutually beneficial relationship with them. They also probably represent your target market so that makes them the perfect test subject for new ideas, and you can extrapolate from their comments/reviews and apply it to the larger population of your target market with some simple statistics.

 

#3 Analyze and Cater To Repeat Business

Similar to your loyal social media followers, it’s important to take note of your repeat customers. You should be able to track this through your POS data. Of course, folks who saddle up to the bar several times a week are going to be easy to identify, but people that come by once a month might be harder to remember, let alone remember their preferences.

Acknowledging these repeat customers goes a long way. Using your data, you can learn their preferences, food they order, favorite style, other options they would enjoy based on their tastes, etc. and it can help give you an additional level of insight that make you and your waitstaff look great.

Repeat business is the key to success. Spending 10 minutes analyzing their data can result in a loyal customer for life.

#4 Put it All Together

Now, let’s combine all of this into a logical, and very effective cycle that can result in significant long term benefits for your business.

  1. Start with identifying your top sellers and most profitable drinks – these will always come into play

  2. Engage with folks through social media, blog posts, and email marketing to further promote those top selling/most profitable options and generate some buzz for them

  3. Take that marketing data that you gather from the campaigns and identify what is most popular, who shares it, who actually comes in to purchase it, etc.

  4. Study the “what pairs best” combinations of food/flight options to satisfy customers when they come in

  5. Pay attention to, acknowledge, and examine the data for your repeat customers to build strong loyalty

  6. Continue nurturing this end to end cycle of satisfied, loyal, and maybe slightly intoxicated customers that you now have supporting you week in and week out

A little bit of analytics goes a long way and can greatly help in every aspect above. You’ll be targeting better customers, be more efficient, save money, and increase revenue all with adding a few key analytical practices to your process that won’t take away from your day to day or your gut instinct.

If you’re interested in seeing how we can help implement these strategies at your brewery/winery please reach out to us here.

Also posted on the Pineapple Consulting blog here.

Marketing Sales Automation Tech Stack

The Best Marketing and Sales Automation Tech Stack for B2B Businesses

Just about every company in America would publicly emphasize that they’re committed to revenue growth (this is more important than ever now). Yet simultaneously its common to try to cut corners and get cheap when it comes time to invest in tried and true resources that help them realize that goal. Further, these resources will easily pay for themselves and more by leading to significant ROI both monetarily and via efficiencies.

In 2019 I can’t believe companies still need to be convinced that they need things like CRM programs and marketing automation but here we are.

And let’s get one thing out of the way before going any further. No, having a free HubSpot account doesn’t count as investing in a CRM program. It may be slightly better than a Google Spreadsheet (yes some solely use that as their “CRM”) but it’s still a lame attempt at best (that’s not to knock them, they have a fine platform if you’re willing to pay the fees to upgrade it).

Fortunately, there is an upside whether you have a CRM and marketing automation system or not. Regardless if you have none, a poor/dysfunctional one, or even one that’s working decently well, now is a great time to make it even better. Take the time, make the investment, and ensure it’s a priority to get dialed in and implemented now to lead to massive dividends later.

Anything worth doing is worth doing right, so I’ve put together a list of the best tech stack in the game to work synergistically and seamlessly whether you’re a solo entrepreneur or a $100 million company with hundreds of employees.

To set the ground rules this piece is predominantly focused on marketing and sales automation. There are plenty of additional angles to take to assist with ERP, HR/recruiting, etc. (if there’s interest I’ll gladly do a follow up post). Also, there are a variety of effective approaches and platforms to pull this off so in some cases I’ll include secondary and tertiary options. If your favorite tool is omitted it doesn’t mean I’m not a fan, just trying to make this easier in a world with a vast amount of options to avoid analysis paralysis. I’m not going to let that be your excuse not to take action and execute.

Ok here we go.

Communication

This is obvious, but your base starts with communication, so email, mobile device, etc. Personally, my preference is overwhelmingly an Outlook and iOS base. However, Gmail/Google Suite or Android are just fine. I use both Outlook/Gmail and both accounts are connected/integrated with my CRM. If you’re working in teams, adding Slack to the mix is worthwhile as well. Price: $5-$10 per user per month.

CRM

This is really the major component that ties everything together and is the key to making everything else in your business work. If you’ve read anything I’ve written about CRM’s you know my #1 preference right now is Zoho One. It does so freaking much for your company for the price that it’s absurd. Their tagline is: “The Operating System for Your Business” and it’s 100% true. There are literally 40 applications that go along with it that could easily eliminate much of what you’re using right now. But if you love your other platforms and want to keep them it also integrates with them all.

A few steps allows you to sync and keep track of all your communication with clients and prospects, ensure you follow up with leads who fill out contact forms or simply visit your website (yes it includes a heat map and website analytics) and so much more. I also use it for project management.

Almost on equal footing (albeit it comes with a much higher price tag) is Salesforce, followed by HubSpot. These are both great platforms, they just cost a whole lot more to license and don’t come with the extra bells and whistles that Zoho One does. Price: $30-$40 per user per month.

Social Media

This section will be brief, your company has got to have at least the following accounts: LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. If you want to add others to the mix more power to you, but this is the base. I use Zoho to manage, automate, and track my posting (which is included) but you could easily use Hootsuite too. Price: Free (Zoho) – $30 per user per month for Hootsuite.

Email Marketing

Another quick section: you need to be incorporating email campaigns into your marketing activities. Email isn’t dead, that’s a lie (neither is direct mail, but that’s for another time). This is one where you could get away with Zoho to manage it, yet I stubbornly have stuck with MailChimp. I love the platform, the company, and what it stands for and have remained loyal. You can start with a free account for under 2,000 contacts, I have more in my list, so I pay a monthly fee (the fee staggers based on your amount of contacts). Constant Contact is a fine option too. Both integrate with Zoho. Price: Free (Zoho) – $30 per month and up for MailChimp.

Contract/Proposal Management

If your company is like mine, you crank out a lot of proposals and contracts on a regular basis. While we customize each one there is still plenty of overlap and recurring content that we leverage often. Standardizing as much as possible with templates creates a HUGE advantage. It allows us to crank out much more in less time. Business is a numbers game, i.e. more activity leads to more volume, which leads to more sales and revenue. So being able to get more proposals and contracts out in a timelier fashion is going to make a tangible impact on your business alone. For this I use/recommend IntellyDoc. Adding this to your tech stack is going to make a major impact on your business. Price: Free (Freemium Model) – $150+ per month depending on your company’s situation.

Payment Processing

Not that your company is closing all this new business you’ve got to collect, right? I have an account set up with PayPal, Square, Stripe, Venmo, Zelle, Coinbase, and Gold Money to collect fees from clients. I recommend having them all nothing else in your business matters if you don’t collect the fees you charge. They all connect to your bank, which should connect to your bookkeeping platform, which then connects back to the CRM to tie in deal flow tracking and to assist with financial forecasting, etc. Price: Free aside from a percentage per transaction.

Bookkeeping

QuickBooks gets all the love, but I’ve been using Wave and it’s really great too (you’re probably sick of hearing this by now but Zoho has an application that comes with your Zoho One account too). QB integrates with Zoho, Wave doesn’t which is a minor annoyance, but I created a work flow to work around that.

Other recommendations:

Scheduling: Acuity is awesome to assist with scheduling meetings, demos, calls, etc. by allowing folks to see open times on your calendar and book appointments. They have a freemium model.

Ecommerce: Shopify.

Entrepreneurs Zoho CRM

Entrepreneurs! Are You Aware of the Latest Offerings from Zoho CRM?

Forget what you think you know about CRM programs. It’s time for you to rethink the entire idea that you’ve been holding onto for years now. You know, that they’re too expensive, too complicated, and not useful enough to justify tackling those challenges. It’s just not true anymore. I understand why you think that way, but until you’ve seen the latest software package that Zoho CRM has been rolling out it’s simply misguided. Allow me to enlighten you a bit.

While I remain a raving Salesforce fan, I’m not going to suggest you take on a CRM program of that magnitude (unless your enterprise fits a certain set of criteria). I still love HubSpot as well but will save that for another post. Right now, I’m here to inform you about the crazy new suite from Zoho that you must at least take a few minutes to check out. If you’re a solo entrepreneur/freelancer, or you have all the way up to 25 employees it will help revolutionize and scale your business like crazy.

Now I was already geeking out a couple months ago when they launched Zoho One. But then they went ahead and added too more applications the other day which literally blew my mind. Zoho Flow “automates business workflows by connecting your apps. You can build smart integrations to break the information silos in your business.” This works for both internal Zoho apps and external ones as well, think Zapier or IFTTT. The other is Zoho PageSense, which is “the Complete A/B Testing and Website Optimization Software. Get ready to increase website conversions and skyrocket your revenue.”

Now, for transparency purposes I must inform you that a large part of my business is built around assisting companies of all sizes and industries to build and implement CRM programs like these. BUT, I legitimately use this one for my own business. It not only has helped me to get better organized with project management and more efficient and streamlined from an operations perspective but leveraging it has tangibly helped me to grow the revenue of my business significantly as well. I’m all about automating as much as possible and these new features allow you to do just that.

If you want to explore what incorporating a CRM program would look like for your business, reach out to me and I’d be thrilled to assist. Whether it’s Zoho or one of the many other incredible programs out there, we can certainly get you on the right track to implementing it correctly to start demonstrating ROI asap.

Before moving forward, to get a better idea of what all they have to offer, take a look at how they articulate it:

Zoho One is a revolutionary all-in-one suite to run your entire business—an unprecedented 35+ integrated applications on one account, with complete administrative control—for a price that will change the way you think about buying software.

Zoho One includes applications with complementary mobile apps so you can run your entire business on one suite. This is the real deal here: You’re getting full-featured, enterprise editions of the entire Zoho suite. That means being able to reach customers, grow sales, balance your books, and work in productive and collaborative ways from any device—all with a single login and password.

Zoho One connects your sales, marketing, customer support, accounting, and more, while also giving you contextual integrations to communicate and collaborate with colleagues, customers, and vendors. With an integrated suite like Zoho One, you’ll always have the right information in the right places, empowering your employees to do great work. Traditionally, this has required an astronomical IT budget and an army of consultants to force everything together. Zoho One makes all that cost and complexity a thing of the past.

Zoho One is enhanced by Zoho’s growing developer ecosystem, marketplace extensions, and global partner network. We’ve made Zoho One extendable so our technology partners can customize our applications to meet your unique needs, across a broad set of industries. These custom apps and extensions of our already powerful applications are made available to you through our Marketplace. Meanwhile, our 1,000+ implementation and training partners are available to help you locally as needs arise.

The Industries of the PRESENT

How many times have you seen articles about the industries of the future recently? Probably more than you can remember. This is especially true if you’re a futurist nerd like myself that loves researching trends, innovative ideas, and thinking of all the potential practical applications these ideas/realities are going to have on our day-to-day lives.

Therefore, I’d like to take a slightly different approach to this one. These industries aren’t abstract concepts that are in the distant future any longer. These things are going to disrupt, improve, and turn our lives upside down within the next few years. These aren’t industries to just keep an eye on, they’re industries that I highly recommend hustling and scratching and clawing your way into immediately, before another gold mine passes you by.

If I have to listen to another person say, “If I only invested in Amazon/Google/Apple back in the day…” I’m going to lose it. Here’s your last call. Take action, or regret it later.

 

CRM – Big Data / Data Analytics – Marketing Automation

This one is a much more mature market than the other but still extremely early in the cycle of what it’s going to evolve into. I know many of you despise Salesforce.com/Microsoft Dynamics/Insert other CRM program here from a user perspective. Well I suggest getting over it, take the time to learn how to use them effectively and embrace this technology as CRM, Big Data/Data Analytics/Marketing Automation are going to continue to get more deeply involved in your day to day operations if you want to survive and thrive as a company whether you like it or not.

Nowadays it’s crucial to be able to turn vast amounts of data into insights and competitive advantages, while simultaneously improving customer service. CRM systems can increase sales by improving lead generation activities, help you design better products and services, and reduce supply chain costs. It will improve your decision-making by identifying new markets opportunities, and by improving your business processes and communication throughout your company.

You’ve had your head stuck under the sand long enough now, it’s not going away so get on board. (*Yes, my company provides these services and is partially why I started here, the other reason is that this has been around for a decade already).

 

Augmented Reality – Virtual Reality – Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning – Internet of Things

Notice how I listed AR first? Don’t get me wrong I do think there is a huge place in the market for VR and 360 videos, etc. That place is just dwarfed by the market impact that AR is going to have however. Again, industries are CURRENTLY being disrupted, and consumer/professional products and services are on the brink of mass adoption. I also lumped these together as they’re all related in a variety of ways and will supplement each other going forward.

Industries such as health care, real estate, education, military, public service, entertainment are about to be severely disrupted. Keep thinking these are all just entertainment gimmicks/Pokémon games if you must, but you’re going to wake up in a brave new world wondering what happened before you know it.

I am personally and professionally deep in this industry. I am a partner/co-founder of a company called Eolian which is a software/content development firm and systems integrator. We specialize in Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Artificial Intelligence (AI). We’re currently focused on helping government and large enterprise organizations utilize these technologies for critical applications. We are also launching a product called ARRE (Augmented Reality Real Estate) this week which will blow people’s minds.

To say we’re growing like crazy would be an understatement. This industry is the next wave of computing. Think personal computers, mobile phones, and tablets, now this could, and will, easily trump them all.

 

Block Chain – Crypto Currency – Bitcoin – Ethereum – “Smart Contracts”

Many of you likely don’t really understand what these things are. I’ll give you a brief definition of each. Blockchain is a complete record of every smart contract transaction executed, all of which are stored in a public ledger (the Blockchain) created by collaborating online computers. Bitcoin is a digital currency that was the first algorithm to utilize blockchain technology and encryption techniques to generate units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, independent of any central bank. Ethereum is a public blockchain platform that powers smart contracts via apps created by developers around the globe.

Essentially these technologies will allow for cross border commerce, enable complete transparency and trust between parties in a transaction, as well as prevent currency manipulation. They aren’t just ways to buy illegal contraband via “The Silk Road 2.0” like you’ve probably read about and think is the purpose. It goes much further than that.

This is another industry I’m putting my time and money where my mouth is as I’m a partner and equity holder with a company called GNEISS. Essentially, we act as your ultimate security companion in a free market transaction. You can create, transfer, mint, burn, exchange, tax, or pay dividends to any crypto-asset or smart contract on our decentralized blockchain-powered trading platform. And this is just the beginning. Check it out and register to take a look yourself.

 

Others:

Cannabis – Marijuana

I’m sure you’re much more aware of this one as its been getting a ton of mainstream attention these days. It’s another that’s already been growing like gangbusters. I’m not fully “in” the industry just yet but working on it by helping my friends on the team of The Kush Life/Kush House get funding to continue building out their luxury retail space and product line. They’re also developing technology to help others in the space operate more efficiently and transparently. They’re based in Maine and quickly growing a reputation as New England’s leading cannabis authority.

Renewable Energy: I.e. Solar, Water, and Geothermal

While I don’t have a meaningful equity stake in a company in the solar industry (other than owning a rather insignificant couple hundred shares of a public company) I would love to get more involved in this industry from each angle. Yes, I understand the current administration isn’t a huge advocate, but it’s all about the long game.

3D Printing

This is one where I have 0 stake in currently, but will be hunting down a way to get involved in 2017. Not only will the manufacturing and distribution industries be disrupted like crazy, but also retail, and likely countless others.

 

This was a long one, but if you made it this far hopefully you will be grateful you did one day. I’ve been so deep in thought, as well as taking action to get more involved in these industries that I easily could’ve written another 10 pages.

There are plenty other industries that intrigue me as well of course, but what others are YOU excited about and going all in on? Do you disagree with any of my predictions? What steps have you taken and/or are planning to take? Would love to hear your perspective!