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AI

Report: Companies that invested in automation saw 5% to 7% revenue increase

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New research from SnapLogic and Cebr found that the U.K. could have prevented £10-£14 billion ($13.4-$18.8 million USD) of its pandemic-related gross domestic product (GDP) contraction if it had matched the automation level of the U.S. Furthermore, the U.S. could have witnessed a $105-$212 billion smaller GDP contraction if it was as automated as Singapore.

The continued adoption of automation across the U.S. and U.K. has helped companies position themselves for growth, while also having the added benefit of improving resilience against economic disruption. Within three months of investment, U.S. companies witnessed an average year-on-year increase in revenue of 7%, or an extra $195 billion per month, and saw an average annual increase in employment of 7%, equating to a total of 7.2 million jobs.

As investment in automation grows, there are certain technologies leading the way. The research finds 78% of U.S. companies directed their investments towards cloud computing, and 71% focused on data integration. The Internet of Things (IoT) and big data analysis were the next most popular technologies in the U.S., with 64% and 62% adoption rates, respectively.

Automation boosts business revenue and economic resilience. The average year-on-year increase in revenue of U.S. companies investing in automation is 195 billion dollars a month. The average year-on-year increase in revenue of UK companies investing in automation is 14 billion per month.

Despite automation commonly being thought of as a way to cut costs, U.S. businesses that automated did so to boost their company’s speed and agility (52%), while improving employee productivity (47%). Automation has helped companies to achieve these goals, with the potential to increase productivity by 15% in the long term, which translates to the creation of approximately 16 million jobs in the U.S, according to the research.

Independent consultancy Cebr surveyed 1,000 businesses in the U.S. and U.K. about their automation strategies, initiatives, and results to develop this study.

Read the full report by SnapLogic and Cebr.

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Categories
Game

Stadia Pro revenue model change has game developers worried

A gaming platform lives or dies by the number and quality of games available on it. The latter, in turn, is dependent on attracting developers and publishers to make a bet on that platform. Although it has been around for more than a year now, Stadia’s long-term survival has always been in question because of developer and publisher support. Now it seems that developers are once again questioning Google’s commitment to the cloud-based game streaming platform, thanks to an important change it made to Stadia Pro’s revenue model.

At first glance, the changes Google announced last week seemed to favor all developers. New games launching from October 1st, 2021, until some time in 2023 will see an 85/15 split between developer and Stadia, at least for the first $3 million in sales. It won’t last forever, though, and it will revert to the “standard” 70/30 revenue sharing sooner or later.

The problem, however, is the change that Google is making for the games that are offered for free on the Stadia Pro tier. Instead of upfront payment for games like Google promised in its previous terms, developers will instead get 70% of revenue that’s based on player engagement. In other words, the more days a Stadia Pro game is played in a month, the higher that revenue and the higher the cut that a developer will make.

The problem is that this new revenue-sharing model might be skewed to favor certain types of games only. Online games like PUBG definitely have the advantage because there is no definite end game and content just keeps getting added. Players of single-player titles or even co-op games with end content will most likely taper off at some point.

It remains to be seen whether this new business model will end up being more profitable for developers, especially when they factor in direct sales outside of Stadia Pro. The changes, however, are already adding more worry to developers on top of fears that Google might pull the plug at any given point in time like Google often does.

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Categories
AI

Saas provider BoostUp.ai nabs $6M to support revenue operations

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BoostUp.ai, provider of a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for managing revenue operations (revenue ops) infused with AI capabilities, today announced it has garnered $6 million in additional series A funding, bringing its total raised to $14 million, after an initial seed round last year.

The company is part of a growing cadre of startups attempting to unify sales, marketing, and customer service processes in a way that enables organizations to boost sales and increase overall profitability. BoostUp claims its revenue increased by more than 1,000% in fiscal 2020, thanks in part to customers such as Udemy, Degreed, Plume, and Windstream.

Dueling platforms

The company’s Connected Revenue Intelligence & Operations platform is usurping customer relationship management (CRM) applications as the single source of truth for organizations that need to tightly integrate sales, marketing, and customer service process, CEO Sharad Verma told VentureBeat. “The CRM is no longer the system of record,” he said.

The Connected Revenue Intelligence & Operations platform differs from rival offerings in that it includes predictive analytics capabilities enabled by machine learning algorithms, Verma added. The platform ingests unstructured data from sources like emails, phone calls, calendars, meetings, and messaging applications that are then matched to accounts and opportunities found in CRM applications. Natural language parsing, sentiment analysis, and proprietary indexing of spoken and written keywords are then applied to better understand patterns of sales trends to forecast more accurately whether deals will close.

BoostUp claims customers have achieved 95% forecast accuracy, reviewed 5 times the number of opportunities per manager, and increased sales manager and sales representative capacity by over 15%.

The latest round of funding was led by Canaan Partners, with participation from Emergent Ventures and BGV Ventures. It will be employed to scale product development and increase customer growth.

It’s not clear to what degree providers of CRM applications are responding to any shift toward a more integrated approach to revenue Ops. Salesforce, for example, offers separate CRM, marketing, and customer service applications that are integrated on the same cloud. But Boostup.ai is making a case for a single platform that aggregates data in a way that makes it simpler to apply AI to identify, for example, when the level of customer engagement is misaligned with the sales forecast.

Revenue Ops

Organizations that are shifting toward a Revenue Ops approach to engaging customers have typically appointed a chief revenue officer (CRO) to assume responsibility for all sales channels. At a time when most sales engagements are occurring via some form of a digital channel, Verma said organizations must measure and monitor the actual level of engagement with customers alongside other historical data that might indicate whether, for example, a customer tends to always wait until the last week of a quarter to sign a purchase order as part of an effort to obtain better pricing.

Conversely, sales representatives may simply not be all that good at forecasting, which Sherma noted would identify an opportunity to improve training.

Regardless of companies’ motivations for embracing Revenue Ops, it’s clear sales, marketing, and customer service processes are becoming more integrated. Many organizations now realize customer service representatives that regularly engage customers are in many cases more adept at identifying additional revenue opportunities they can close on their own. Sales teams in many cases are now focusing the bulk of their time and effort on trying to land new customers versus making sure every product or service has been delivered to the precise specifications on the contract.

Naturally, it may take a while before every organization is able to fully transition to a Revenue Ops model. However, the way organizations engage customers is poised to change fundamentally.

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Categories
AI

Jeff Bezos announces plan to step down as CEO, as Amazon’s Q4 revenue eclipses $100 billion

(Reuters) — Amazon on Tuesday said founder Jeff Bezos would step down as CEO and become executive chairman, as the company reported its third consecutive record profit and quarterly sales above $100 billion for the first time.

The transition, slated for the third quarter, will make current cloud computing chief Andy Jassy Amazon’s next chief executive officer.

Net sales rose to $125.56 billion as consumers turned to the world’s largest online retailer for holiday shopping, beating analyst estimates of $119.7 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Bezos, who started the company 27 years ago as an internet bookseller, said in a note to employees posted on Amazon’s website, “As Exec Chair I will stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives but also have the time and energy I need to focus on the Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, The Washington Post, and my other passions.”

He added, “I’ve never had more energy, and this isn’t about retiring.”

Amazon shares were up less than 1% in after-hours trading.

Jassy joined Amazon in 1997 and has a MBA from Harvard Business School, according to the company’s website. He founded Amazon Web Services (AWS) and grew it to a cloud platform used by millions, the company said.

Tom Johnson, chief transformation officer at Mindshare Worldwide, said Jassy’s promotion underscored the importance of web services to Amazon’s future.

“Jassy’s background in steering AWS shows just how top of mind those services are to Amazon’s business strategy. It’ll be interesting to see how that affects their strategy and balancing that priority with a growing ad business and the commerce behemoth,” he said

Jassy’s AWS, traditionally a bright spot, fell slightly short of expectations. While the cloud computing division announced deals in the quarter with ViacomCBS, the BMW and others, it posted revenue of $12.7 billion, short of the $12.8 billion analysts had estimated.

Amazon said it was not announcing a replacement for Jassy at this time.

Since the start of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak, consumers have turned increasingly to Amazon for delivery of home staples and medical supplies. Brick-and-mortar shops closed their doors; Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, instead recruited over 400,000 more workers and posted consecutive record profits.

Amazon chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky told reporters on a conference call that costs associated with the pandemic in the first quarter are expected to total $2 billion, down from $4 billion in the fourth quarter.

With its warehouses open, Amazon had another record holiday, beating estimates for online store sales, subscription sales, third-party service sales such as warehousing and other sales to merchants on its platform.

A boost in revenue came from moving Amazon’s marketing event Prime Day — usually in July — to October, lengthening the holiday shopping season.

(Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru and Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Lisa Shumaker)

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