Businesswoman smiling in meeting
By Krish Ramakrishnan, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Blue Jeans Network as written on
There's no denying that meeting other human beings face to face is valuable when you need to communicate nuance, make an impression, learn or collaborate. Think about it, we've all been in THAT meeting. The meeting that never seems to end, in which you resort to biting your tongue, or surreptitiously surfing the web, in order to stay awake and maintain sanity - all the while knowing your inbox is filling up and project deadlines are creeping closer. Here are five surprisingly simple ways today's most prominent and creative business leaders circumvent the meeting doldrums to get the job done -- supported by data taken from over five million online meetings courtesy Blue Jeans State of the Modern Meeting Index.

Sandberg Says: Make it Quick!

Facebook dynamo Sheryl Sandberg has a lot on her plate. According to recent data, women "lean in" to meetings, attending 10 percent more of them than men. However, Sheryl manages by keeping meetings short and to-the-point. If it only takes 10 minutes to go through a meeting that was scheduled for an hour, the meeting's over in 10 minutes. People seem to be picking up on this time-saving strategy to shrink meeting duration whenever possible. The data shows that the meeting sweet spot is just over 30 minutes.

Bezos to Team: Get it while it's hot!

Amazon's Jeff Bezos keeps meetings small. By only ordering two pizzas to feed his attendees, Bezos has found the magic pizza party number to draw the right sized crowd to his meetings. This simple and effective tactic limits meeting participants to the crucial voices and avoids the analysis paralysis that can set in with an over-saturation of opinions. Keeping meetings small has led to quality meetings and enough pizza to go around!

Nadella Says: I'll See You Friday - or - Skip it!

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wants to stay abreast of issues and push performance aggressively. To that end, he meets with his senior leadership team every Friday to coordinate progress. Though meetings are getting shorter and smaller, Nadella's frequent meeting style fits the national trend. Along with more frequent, more meaningful meetings Nardella empowers his staff to save time by avoiding unnecessary meetings, encouraging them to skip meetings if they really don't need to be there.

No Meetings Wednesday - Try Tuesday Instead!

Facebook started a trend of startup companies declaring a "No Meetings Wednesday" policy - and they were on to something, Blue Jeans' data shows that the most popular day of the week for a meeting is actually Tuesday. Also jumping on the trend to stop meeting madness is technology company Asana, who recently implementing Wednesday as a "flow" day focused on productive work without interruption and reports that the results carry over to other days of the week, too. The most common time of day to meet is 3pm, which should also provide a change of scene and access to a fresh cup of coffee, given that mid-afternoon is commonly considered the energetic low-point of the day. No matter the day or time, scheduling that considers the priorities and demands of invitees will improve the likelihood that your meetings will be well-attended by bright-eyed colleagues.

Meetings - Punk Rock Style

Conventional corporate culture can be stifling, especially in B2B environments. Take a page from former punk rocker turned security software CEO, Timothy Eades, and resist the pressures of meeting norms. Eades isn't afraid to stand apart from the crowd in favor of being an individual, quoting Joey Ramone on punk rock leadership: "To me, punk is about being an individual and going against the grain and standing up and saying 'This is who I am.'" As the person who calls the meeting, you have the opportunity to set the tone. Punk rock meeting management should shake things up with nonconformist ideas, the freedom to wear a costume to communicate an idea, and maybe pipe in your favorite Green Day song to get the groove going. The point is: it's your show.



[Editor's note: The overall award rating is based on a composite score of analyst ratings for customer satisfaction, depth of functionality, company direction, and cost. For the cost score, analysts gave the highest marks to vendors with the lowest expected costs. Company revenues were also factored into the overall score, but these numbers are not included in the chart above.]


According to a Gartner report, the CRM software market grew from $20.4 billion in 2013 to $23.2 billion in 2014 (representing 13.3 percent growth). An ongoing trend among enterprises is the movement from pure on-premises solutions to cloud-based solutions. Increasingly, large companies are seeking easy deployments and quick ways to improve upon legacy systems with complementary functionality. In the report, Joanne Correia, research vice president at Gartner, noted that the demand for software-as-a-service continues, "with SaaS accounting for almost 47 percent of total CRM software revenue in 2014."


According to analysts, NetSuite has the right steps in mind, evidenced by its high score in company direction (4.1). Jim Dickie, managing director at CSO Insights, a division of MHI Global, notes that though the solution is "not seen often for large enterprises," the company has its sights set on larger outfits. "We've been moving upmarket ever since we've gone public [in 2007]," CEO Zach Nelson said at SuiteWorld, the company's annual user conference, this May. The company also garnered a respectable customer satisfaction score (3.8). Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of Nucleus Research, says that "the strength of NetSuite still lies in its single database and ability for sales and other users to see not just CRM but order and other data."
Like last year, Oracle scored the second highest in depth of functionality (4.1). Wettemann notes that the company's offerings, which include the Sales Cloud, Eloqua, CPQ, analytics, and mobile functionality, "are…solid capabilities enterprises need," but that Oracle "still needs some improvement in setup." She suggests changes are on the way, however, as the company "has made significant advances in usability." Cost continues to be an issue for Oracle; the company had its lowest score in that area (3.3). stands out for its company direction and customer satisfaction, two areas where it scored a 4.2. Analysts attribute this largely to the company's focus on an improved user interface. Wettemann says she expects that "the investments it is making in UI and in-app analytics will really pay off and make [Salesforce’s offerings] even more attractive to customers in the near term." John Ragsdale, vice president of technology and social research for the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA), agrees, saying that the solutions are becoming more usable and that the company's focus on its Customer Success platform "is paying off with strong adoption and consumption by customers."
SAP scored lowest in cost (3.4) and highest in depth of functionality (nearly 4.0). Ragsdale suggests that SAP's embedded analytics "offer tremendous value" to buyers, who are "increasingly demanding sophisticated analytics and dashboards." Leslie Ament, senior vice president and principal analyst at Hypatia Research Group, notes that the company has improved its customer engagement and journey tracking capabilities. "Encompassing sales, marketing, customer service, and commerce, SAP has delivered an enterprise-class CRM solution," she told CRM magazine via email. Despite this praise, it is notable that of the leaders, SAP ranked the lowest in company direction (3.6). Wettemann says that "SAP seems to have lost its way in CRM and doesn't have a clear story on how it delivers value or how it can catch up on product road maps."


Microsoft takes the title this year from longtime defending champion Analysts gave the company high marks in company direction (4.5). Ragsdale notes that "Microsoft is heavily investing in [its] CRM platform, adding sophistication across sales, marketing, and service, and as a result is seeing increased adoption by large enterprises." Wettemann singles out as strengths the "Parature service capabilities and knowledge base" as well as "integration with Office 365 and PowerBI," and Ament lauded the company's improved suite of integrated customer engagement products. Its software enables companies to reach customers "via multiple touch points and to do so with enterprise-wide intelligence, supported by Microsoft's Business Analytics platform (PowerBI and Azure Data Services)," Ament said via email.


Infor stepped up as One to Watch this year—and nearly made it onto the leaderboard. The company's acquisition of SalesLogix in August has bolstered its sales functionality, the category in which it scored the highest (3.8). "Infor has long had strong marketing capabilities with Epiphany and continues to build out its CRM offering with…SalesLogix," Wettemann says.

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