The Wednesday Stack: Workdays and Holidays

It was a long day. And it wasn’t even Advertising Week yet. It began with Workfront, over coffee, in a café just steps from DMN’s office. It concluded, twelve hours later, with Salesforce, and a corn husk meringue dessert, at Cosmé, the swish Mexican restaurant in the Flatiron (highly recommended). Reports in the morning, reports in the evening, reports at supper-time. No worries, if the reports are informative, as these were.


First up, Joe Staples, CMO of the Utah-based work and project management cloud software vendor Workfront, previewed their 2017-2018 The State of Enterprise Work report, published today. The report’s findings are fascinating, honestly, to anyone working in an office today (real or virtual), but have added interest for marketers.

The headlines, based on a sampling of 2,000 enterprise workers:

  • 57% say wasteful meetings interfere with work
  • 53% say the same of excessive emails
  • Workers have an average of around 200 unopened emails in their inboxes
  • 94% use email to manage their work
  • 78% use spreadsheets (77% use shared documents)
  • And arguably on a more positive note, 78% of knowledge workers can take flexi-time; an average of eight hours are worked from home each week.

But let’s focus on the bad news. All those wasted meetings and — marketers take note — unwanted emails? I asked Staples if there had been any attempt to distinguish internal and external emails. “That would be a good question,” he said. “Internally, the big culprit is the cc. It clogs up your inbox.”

Why are these two everyday facets of business life such a problem? “Both emails and meetings,” Staples said, “are used for the wrong things. Emails are meant to be the start of a conversation, and they’re shareable; but people just go back and forth.” Don’t we all know it? “With meetings, the biggest culprit is the status meeting.” Those meetings where the manager calls on staff one by one to update on progress, leaving each individual idle and bored for most of the time.

There are, of course, collaborative alternatives to emails and in-person meetings (Staples mentioned Slack, for example). But unless use of such tools is mandated, productivity can be negatively affected, with only some workers participating.

Staples also noted that this is the first year Workfront has asked about automation in the workplace. The reception is positive, with 69% of those surveyed believing automation will give them time to perform their main tasks better. 

Looking ahead, Staples anticipates increased interest in the “Hollywood model” of work. That means teams of people with relevant skills coming together to work on a specific project; then going their separate ways. “This model will grow,” he said. For Workfront itself, the roadmap incorporates a bigger focus on resource management — enhanced evaluation of workloads and the length of projects to better justify new hires.


Salesforce was getting ready for the holidays — not necessarily a timely preoccupation, given the heat and humidity going through the roof for September. But ’tis, apparently, the season for the Connected Shoppers Report and the Holiday Insights Data Center.

One of the craziest topics of conversation over dinner, as Shelley Bransten (SVP retail industry solutions) and Rob Garf (VP industry strategy and insights; we chatted here) tried to steer us through the report’s main findings, was the proliferation of named shopping days. Garf is predicting deepest online shopping discounts (29% off list price) on Cyber Monday; but outside of Cyber Week, look for big bargains on December 11.  Yes, that would be “Green Monday.” As opposed to Blue Monday or Black Friday. Or Turquoise Tuesday. Okay, I made that one up.

Meanwhile back at the report. 2017 holiday shoppers will:

  • Abandon the linear path to purchase. Websites are still way in the lead for all age groups when it comes to researching products, but other channels — email, social, mobile, phone, messages, and voice run almost neck-and-neck in importance for millennials (email, social, and mobile are important for Gen X too).
  • Appreciate a connected shopping experience, valuing retailers who remove friction from activities like checking available inventory, looking up product information and reviews (on demand, and on mobile), and indeed checking out — completing the transaction.

One way to join up the dots between online and in-store experiences, of course, is to empower sales assistants, and hook them up with the same information the shopper has. As Garf has observed, that’s a particularly tall order during the holidays, when retailers have to onboard and train temporary workers in a short space of time.

Scroll down for more from Salesforce.


Also crossing the virtual transom since the last Stack:

  • Is it really two years since I covered the launch of Revjet’s “never stop testing” CSP? Now comes Orora OS and AppXchange, an associated app eco-system. AppXchange offers a range of marketing creative, DAM, ad serving, and reporting apps. Orora is the browser-based platform through which the apps are organized and managed. It incorporates business process management capabilities, audience targeting, and marketing intelligence.
  • Pitney Bowes has expanded its Spectrum data offering with new big data capabilities to validate and clean customer location data (in Apache Hadoop and Spark). It’s also now offering to enrich existing industry data sets (e.g. insurance and real estate) with location data, including in big data environments, through its GeoEnrichment data Portfolio.
  •  Act-On Software and SugarCRM announced an “Act-On for Sugar” integration, automatically updating contact and lead records with data from email, Act-On Hot Prospects, and other prospect activity in SugarCRM.
  • Lytics added Orchestrate to its CDP, allowing customers to create cross-channel campaigns and journeys from within the Lytics UI, without logging into other marketing systems. The interface will allow visual tracking of customer journeys across channels and tools, and support drag-and-drop creation of timely campaigns.


Finally back to Salesforce, but to a different part of the cloud-based software megalith, namely the Marketing Cloud, and today’s announcement of Salesforce Data Studio. Not to be confused with any other data studio, like Google Data Studio, of course.  But then, the name fits, because it now appears on a Marketing Cloud roster which includes Salesforce Email Studio, Social Studio, Advertising Studio, and Mobile Studio (not to mention Journey Builder and the DMP formerly known as Krux).

I enjoyed a virtual stroll around the data studio with Raji Bedi, VP of product management for the Marketing Cloud. The key to understanding what it offers is to ponder the importance of second-party data. First-party data (as we all know), is the data a brand collects directly from its customers (transactional data, forms, addresses, log ins). “It’s enormously valuable, but of limited availability,” Bedi said. Third-party data — the other kind of data we hear about all the time — is “probabilistic” data from sources like cookies (web activity), and it’s often purchased from data vendors. There is no shortage of that kind of data, but it can be poor quality (out-of-date, inaccurate, duplicative, or just plain wrong).

Second-party data happens when brands — often publishers — make their first party data available in the market. That’s what Salesforce Data Studio enables, in a controlled and transparent way. 

Another important thing to understand is that Salesforce is acting solely as a software provider here, not as an agent selling the data. Data studio gives publishers and other first-party data owners a marketplace in which to offer their data, together with opportunities to govern the way in which it is used. Owners can elect, for example, to have their data used only for audience insights; more expansively, they can allow marketers using data studio to activate the data to serve messages to audiences.

The benefit for marketers is that the source of the data is absolutely transparent, and the chances of the data being clean, reliable, and actionable are greatly increased by knowing who the owner is, and by competition to sell data within Data Studio itself.

Is Salesforce soliciting publishers to contribute data, I asked. “They’re chomping at the bit,” said Bedi. “Data owners want to do this. The story (we can tell) about trust and security of governance really resonates with data owners today.”

Salesforce does have a team to evaluate the data being delivered, but: “It’s highly collaborative, to be honest,” said Bedi. Data owners are “highly incentivized” to provide good data in a transparent way.


Wait, why a Wednesday Stack, not a Monday Stack?  It’s not a permanent change, just the way the stories crumble. Check us every day to miss nothing.

Logo by Hilary Allison

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