Q&A with Erik Charles, Vice President and Solutions Evangelist at Xactly Corporation

MEDIA 7 | October 7, 2019

Erik Charles, Vice President and Solutions Evangelist at Xactly Corporation is an accomplished professional with over two decades of experience in Marketing, Consulting, and Product Evangelization. Erik focuses on helping companies drive expansion and growth by better aligning positions, responsibilities, and incentives.

Erik serves as a subject matter expert in the area of Sales Performance Management to ensure that Xactly’s marketing, sales and product teams have the necessary strategic input for industry leading messaging, positioning, and future direction.

MEDIA 7: When did you start working and what was it?
ERIK CHARLES:
  In early 1980s, I wrote software on TRS-80 model II coded in BASIC to enable for computerized quotes for a life insurance agency. I was in middle school at the time, that was a contract work. My next job was at a software store back when software used to be bundled up into a cardboard box with inserted floppy disks and then it went on from there.

M7: You have an astounding experience of over two decades with industry pioneers like Apple, Sun Microsystems, Canon and recently Xactly Corporation. What has been the driving force behind your remarkable career?
EC: 
There are two things: as a marketer, I don’t believe in mistakes, I only believe in experiments and what we can learn from them, that has kept me moving forward. I keep on trying new things and seeing what works. I assume that just because it worked last week doesn’t mean it’s going to work tomorrow. So, I’ve never allowed myself to get into a rut. I have always been more than willing to find people who can provide excellent advice at critical moments, even on a specific direction. Finding someone that I can speak with, that can give me a few tips, tricks, hints, ideas, direction or path on moving on. So, I have never been afraid to ask just how could I do this better.


"Sales and marketing have to be best friends, they have to be fully aligned with each other, and they have to know what each other is doing at all times so they can partner. Companies that don’t do that cause themselves a lot of heartache."

M7: As the Vice President and Solutions Evangelist at Xactly Corporation, what are some of the challenges that you face and what has helped you in overcoming them?
EC:
The biggest challenge I face – it is a changing marketplace out there. As we know, from a pure marketing perspective, there’s plenty of data sources out there. 60-70% of the buyer’s journey occurs without ever talking to the sales organization which puts more pressure on the marketing team.

Over the course of this interview I’ve already received two inbound phone calls that are unmarked/unlicensed or I don’t have in my directory. I just reject them automatically, they go straight to voice mail, I later read the transcribed voicemail and decide if I want to talk to them. So, cold-calling is not necessarily dead but it does take more work. I wake up every morning and delete approximately 50 cold emails, oftentimes from people who haven’t done any research on what my company does. They’ll hunt my name and my company but they don’t even realize what we do. So, I flip that to my own role in supporting Xactly and make sure that our voice is heard in an appropriate fashion.

The biggest challenge that I work on the most is in the area of thought leadership in terms of not ‘the same old all over again’ but actually being able to talk about what is going on in any given industry/market. I provide that advice backwards and set up Xactly and myself as the thought leaders and experts in the space, so customers have someone to turn to, to know where you should be going next.


"From a pure marketing perspective, there’s plenty of data sources out there. 60-70% of the buyer’s journey occurs without ever talking to the sales organization which puts more pressure on the marketing team."

M7: You’ve been in leadership roles for both sales and marketing functions, how do you think this alliance has evolved over the years and how significant is it for upcoming organizations to align both the departments?
EC:
If you don’t have sales and marketing aligned, all you’re going to do is go through a revolving door of firing your CMO or firing your CRO every 18 or so months. Sales and marketing have to be best friends, they have to be fully aligned with each other, and they have to know what each other is doing at all times so they can partner. Companies that don’t do that cause themselves a lot of heartache. I believe that everybody should work in sales at some point in their lives. Even if it’s retail sales at the shopping mall, dealing with the general public, dealing with the challenges of a sales organization at minimum just doing ride-alongs with the sales organization to see what their life is like.

How on earth can you create a presentation deck for sales to use if you’ve never delivered it yourself or at least heard it being delivered in a customer or prospect facing situation. If you haven’t done that you get yourself into trouble very fast in my opinion. In smart organizations, the CMO and the CRO should be going out for coffee and cocktails whenever possible and talking about what’s working or not working in a non-threatening, not a senior staff offsite situation but more of a “Huh, we have this challenge how can we work together better?” But too often I’ve seen companies where marketing and sales are not in partnership. One of my advantages has been because I’ve been in sales, because I’ve carried a bag, because I’ve had a quota it has helped me significantly. So, when I’m talking to sales I can say, “Here’s a different way I might present this information, see if it works for you and if it does please let me know and we can share it out with the other members of the team”.

M7: You are a regular speaker at summits. Could you share some insights into being an industry thought leader?
EC:
Yeah, don’t sell your product, provide information. Provide interesting, current, actionable information that is backed by both data but entertained with anecdotes. You have to remember things like the Ebbinghaus curve which gets into the fact that within 20 minutes how much people have forgotten and within 2 weeks how much more they have forgotten. I want people to walk out of my sessions and if somebody asks, “What did you learn in there?”, they should be able to list off almost bulletized format, three to five total things that they learned that they’re going to take away and act upon. And if they do that two weeks later, if they didn’t write it down, they’re still left with three of them and they’ll actually be able to get value out of my talk. I work very hard so that when people walk out they don’t think they’ve been sold to.


"In smart organizations, the CMO and the CRO should be going out for coffee and cocktails whenever possible and talking about what’s working or not working."

M7: According to you, what are the key marketing areas that industries will need to focus on in the coming 5 years?
EC:
From a marketing perspective, one is to make sure you are adjusting your channels of communication to meet the next generation of employees. Millennials and the follow-on generation are taking over the workforce, and personally I welcome them. I think it’s magnificent, but note how they are communicating – people text as opposed to calling, they are using tools like Whatsapp to communicate. That is slowly shifting the communication medium and how people wish to absorb information on the business side as well. So, that’s going to be critical.

The other is people have gotten very good at detecting false narratives being used solely to sell product. People are looking to learn – constant learning is important for professionals but if you treat your outbound conversations also as constant learning people will respond positively. I had a customer at Xactly ask me, “Look, I’m a customer now, but can I still come to some of the talks and webinars and learn something?” And the answer is, “Of course!” That’s how they became a customer, they were interested in the education that we provided and that actually raised our profile as a company within the marketplace and it makes people want to do business with us.

M7: What have you learned from your experiences?
EC:
You’re going to stumble and fall a lot, mistakes will be made, mistakes will happen. You will butt heads with opposing personality and you’ll have to learn to work with people with a variety of different interaction, styles, and skills, introverts and extroverts, people that go on the attack very quickly, etc. Understanding the personal side of the professional world is very important. People can claim that they can turn it off, I don’t think that’s true, especially now that it’s a 24/7 world.

I do international business so it’s always work time someplace on the globe for someplace that my company does business and I just have to accept that. So at the same time, I need to be able to accept that for my employees and for the people I’m talking to. They do have a personal life; unfortunately, personal life is blended into their professional life. Recognize it, accept it, work around it.

ABOUT XACTLY CORPORATION

Xactly delivers a scalable, enterprise platform for planning and incenting sales organizations, including sales quota and territory planning, incentive compensation management, and predictive analytics. Using this powerful sales performance management (SPM) portfolio, customers mitigate risk, accelerate sales performance, and increase business agility. Combined with Xactly Insights™-- the industry’s only empirical big data platform, Xactly empowers companies with real-time compensation insights and benchmarking data that maximize the bottom line. With an open, standards-based architecture, Xactly seamlessly integrates within an enterprise’s existing infrastructure, with the ability to work with any ERP, CRM, or HCM application, while meeting the highest enterprise standards in security, reliability, and privacy.

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Additionally, the growing variety of vehicle makes, models, and trims that generate data in different proprietary formats creates a complex array of data across vehicles. Collecting, transforming, and analyzing this data requires automotive companies to build custom data-collection systems, which is difficult and time-consuming. As a result, automotive companies are unable to use the data to help solve common problems like spotting fleet-wide issues before they become a bigger problem, tailoring infotainment content, and using data to improve vehicle performance. AWS IoT FleetWise provides automotive companies with a managed service that makes it easier to collect, transform, and transfer data from millions of vehicles to the cloud in near real time. With AWS IoT FleetWise, automotive companies can access, structure, and standardize proprietary vehicle data without needing to develop custom data-collection systems. Customers can also integrate with AWS IoT FleetWise to enhance their existing systems. Automotive companies can get started in the AWS Management Console by defining and modeling vehicle attributes (e.g., a two-door coupe) and the sensors associated with the car’s make, model, and trims (e.g., engine temperature, front-impact warning, parking assist system) for individual vehicle types or multiple vehicle types across their entire fleet. After vehicle modeling, automotive companies can connect the AWS IoT FleetWise application via the vehicle gateway (i.e., in-vehicle communications hub that monitors and collects data) or other data collection hubs in the vehicle, so it can read, decode, and transmit information to and from AWS. With AWS IoT FleetWise’s intelligent data-collection controls, automotive companies can select the exact data they need for their use cases and limit the amount of data transferred to the cloud by creating conditional rules (e.g., sensor data from hard-braking events associated with a vehicle make and model). Once data is transferred to the cloud with AWS IoT FleetWise, automotive companies can use AWS’s breadth and depth of analytics and machine learning services to extract value from vehicle data. For example, automotive companies can collect data from electric-vehicle batteries when the temperature drops below freezing and then analyze it and run simulations in the cloud to improve battery performance in cold weather. The new AWS IoT FleetWise service is part of AWS for Automotive, a comprehensive offering of AWS services and AWS Partner Network (APN) solutions used by automotive and mobility customers globally to help automotive customers digitally transform their business for connected mobility, digital customer engagement, product design and engineering, manufacturing, and supply chain. For more information about AWS for Automotive, visit aws.com/automotive. AWS IoT FleetWise with standard vehicle data collection is generally available today in US East (N. Virginia) and Europe (Frankfurt), with availability in additional AWS Regions coming soon. Bridgestone is a global leader in tires and rubber, offering a diverse portfolio of premium tires and advanced solutions, improving the way people around the world move, live, work, and play. “Bridgestone has been working with AWS to transform the digital services we provide to our automotive manufacturer, fleet, and retail customers,” said Brian Goldstine, president, mobility solutions and fleet management at Bridgestone Americas, Inc. “We look forward to exploring how AWS IoT FleetWise will make it easier for our customers to collect detailed tire data, which can provide new insights for their products and applications.” Hyundai Motor Group (HMG) is a global vehicle manufacturer that offers consumers a technology-rich lineup of cars, sport utility vehicles, and electrified vehicles. “As a leading global vehicle manufacturer, we have come to appreciate the breadth and depth of AWS services to help create new connected vehicle capabilities,” said HaeYoung Kwon, vice president and head of the infotainment development group at HMG. “With more data available from our expanding global fleet of connected cars, we look forward to leveraging AWS IoT FleetWise to discover how we can build more personalized ownership experiences for our customers.” LG CNS is a leader in cloud, artificial intelligence, and big data technologies that are transforming smart transportation services. “At LG CNS, we are committed to advancing the technology that is powering the future of transportation,” said Jae Seung Lee, vice president at LG CNS. “By using AWS IoT FleetWise, we are creating a new data platform that allows us to ingest, analyze, and simulate vehicle conditions in real time. With these advanced insights, our customers can gain a better understanding of their vehicles and, as a result, improve decision-making about their fleets.” Renesas Electronics Corporation is a global leader in microcontrollers, analog, power, and system-on-chip (SoC) products. “The volume of connected vehicle data is forecast to increase dramatically over the next few years, driven by new and evolving customer expectations. As a result, Renesas is focused on addressing the needs of automotive engineers facing increasing system complexity,” said Yusuke Kawasaki, director at Renesas Electronics Corporation. “Incorporating AWS IoT FleetWise into our vehicle gateway solution will enable our customers to enjoy our market-ready approach for large-scale data collection and accelerate their cloud development strategy. We look forward to collaborating further with AWS to provide a better and simpler development environment for our customers.” About Amazon Web Services For over 15 years, Amazon Web Services has been the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud offering. AWS has been continually expanding its services to support virtually any cloud workload, and it now has more than 200 fully featured services for compute, storage, databases, networking, analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), mobile, security, hybrid, virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR), media, and application development, deployment, and management from 87 Availability Zones within 27 geographic regions, with announced plans for 21 more Availability Zones and seven more AWS Regions in Australia, Canada, India, Israel, New Zealand, Spain, and Switzerland. Millions of customers—including the fastest-growing startups, largest enterprises, and leading government agencies—trust AWS to power their infrastructure, become more agile, and lower costs. To learn more about AWS, visit aws.amazon.com. About Amazon Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Amazon strives to be Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company, Earth’s Best Employer, and Earth’s Safest Place to Work. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Career Choice, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, Alexa, Just Walk Out technology, Amazon Studios, and The Climate Pledge are some of the things pioneered by Amazon.

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SOFTWARE AND TOOLS

SmartSense by Digi Forms Food Service Advisory Board to Amplify Customer Success

SmartSense | September 26, 2022

SmartSense by Digi, part of Digi International a leading global provider of Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity solutions, today announced the formation of the Food Service Advisory Board to support continuous improvement of the company’s production, distribution, and customer-success processes. As regulations in the food sector continue to evolve, the FSAB will advocate for strategies to enhance efficiency and effectiveness within the food supply chain while also promoting public health. Featuring a diverse collection of the best and brightest minds across food service, the board will provide critical insights and expert recommendations that enable SmartSense by Digi to enhance its IoT solutions to amplify business outcomes, operational efficiency, loss prevention, compliance, and food safety. The FSAB will be led by John Deane, Managing Director of Clipper Advisory Group. He specializes in advising IT organizations regarding function management, practical strategic planning, operational process improvement, and achieving returns from technology investments. Previously, Deane was Chief Operating Officer at Wendy’s; Chief Information Officer at Abercrombie & Fitch; and Chief Information Officer at Ascena Retail Group. Dean will be joined by the following inaugural members: Victor Vercammen is the Vice President of Risk and the Chief Compliance Officer at Giant Eagle, Inc., America’s leading regional food, pharmacy, and convenience store retailer, where he is dedicated to protecting guests, team members, assets, and products across all operations. David Steck is the Vice President of IT Infrastructure and Application Development at Schnuck Markets, Inc., where he provides leadership and strategic planning for innovations in store technology — including robotics, app development, electronic shelf labels, RFID, and supply chain process improvements — aiming to empower a seamless customer experience at the company's 112 stores. Tom Mueller is the President and Partner at Mueller Consulting, where he provides expertise to clients on restaurant management and franchising, strategic planning, menu development, P&L management, and quality store operations. Earlier, Tom served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Wendy’s and Senior Vice President of Operations for Burger King. Mike Tobin is the Director of Operations Administration at Charleys Philly Steaks, where he leads organizational transformation through innovative training programs and continuous process improvement. Mike is skilled in identifying and improving process and system operations to drive revenue growth and organizational effectiveness. Laura-Zelda Villarreal is President of Nutrition Core Services and a Professor in the School of Nutrition Program at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. She is a registered Dietician Nutritionist (RDN), School Nutrition Specialist (SNS), and licensed dietician (LD). “As our customers continue to navigate unprecedented volatility, this board will arm us with actionable business insights, perspectives, and guidance that are invaluable in today's market, We are grateful to this group of distinguished individuals for their continued support and look forward to working with them to support our customer communities in food services.” Guy Yehiav, President of SmartSense by Digi “Many businesses are unaware of the opportunities that digital technologies can bring to the food services industry,” said Deane. “I look forward to meeting other members of the board and the SmartSense team to collaborate on the best ways to provide food safety through IoT solutions.” About Digi International Digi International is a leading global provider of IoT connectivity products, services, and solutions. It helps companies create next-generation connected products and deploy and manage critical communications infrastructures in demanding environments with high levels of security and reliability. Founded in 1985, Digi has helped customers connect more than 100 million things and counting. For more information, visit www.digi.com. About SmartSense by Digi SmartSense by Digi®, a business unit of Digi International (NASDAQ: DGII), is a leading global provider of Internet of Things (IoT) Sensing as a Service solutions that deliver dynamic and personalized asset monitoring, process digitization, and digital decisioning across key verticals. The company enables business customers to leverage the power of IoT automation, prescriptive workflows, and insightful analytics to ensure compliance, workforce productivity, brand loyalty, loss prevention, and reduced waste, and lower energy consumption. Combining new and innovative data-driven approaches with world-class IoT tools, SmartSense partners with enterprises to elevate their business outcomes and asset protection to new heights.

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DEVICES

ICE Cobotics Simplifies Floor Cleaning with T IoT, From T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom

T-Mobile | September 26, 2022

T-Mobile announced that ICE Cobotics, a global leader in cleaning technologies and equipment, has chosen T IoT as its exclusive IoT connectivity solution worldwide to help their customers more easily manage fleets of floor cleaning robots. As part of the long-term agreement, T IoT a comprehensive solution for global IoT connectivity, platform management and support will deliver cellular connectivity to more than 7,500 new and existing ICE Cobotics intelligent and autonomous cleaning units across the world. This includes their newest product, Cobi 18, a compact autonomous floor scrubber which is designed to clean 5,000 to 7,000 square feet per hour, starting at less than $20 a day. ICE Cobotics chose T IoT to simplify the delivery and execution of IoT solutions on a global scale, which bolsters their mission to streamline processes for its customers. Less than a year ago, the company launched an industry first: an all-inclusive subscription service for floor cleaning machines, parts and maintenance, and performance and monitoring software. The service provides customers with a more reliable, affordable, and cost predictive solution, allowing them to use their capital to expand their business versus having it tied up in equipment ownership. T IoT supports ICE Cobotics’ subscription model by delivering cleaning performance data and insights to customers in the retail, grocery, convenience, healthcare, higher education, and hospitality industries. Imagine a major retail corporation that has hundreds of robots in service. The cellular connectivity allows a customer’s maintenance and facilities team to view their Clean Score goal-based cleaning performance data generated by ICE Cobotics’ i-SYNERGY fleet management software. This takes the guess work out of tracking cleaning efficacy, developing efficiencies, and confirming each location is clean. Previously, they would have had to visit each store to inspect if cleaning happened, which takes time and money. Additionally, T IoT reinforces ICE Cobotics’ commitment to eliminate downtime by delivering over the air software and firmware updates to its customers, as well as mechanical telemetry data, from sensors and cameras in each machine, back to the company. This gives them the ability to monitor and analyze critical information like hours of use, routes, temperature, and battery life so they can determine if certain components of a machine are operating within tolerance, if service is required and if a part is near its end of life to prevent problems before they happen. “T IoT is critical to the success of our cleaning machines and our all-inclusive subscription service, The data we receive from our autonomous scrubbers allows us to deliver cleaning performance insights and an enhanced clean to our customers at an affordable price.” Mike DeBoer, President, ICE Cobotics U.S “This is what T IoT was designed for helping enterprises solve global IoT challenges and deliver innovative solutions that make their customers want more,” said Callie Field, President, T-Mobile Business Group. “Like ICE Cobotics, T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom share a passion for the pursuit of simple and we salute their ongoing mission to make things easier for their customers.” About T-Mobile T-Mobile US, Inc. is America’s supercharged Un-carrier, delivering an advanced 4G LTE and transformative nationwide 5G network that will offer reliable connectivity for all. T-Mobile’s customers benefit from its unmatched combination of value and quality, unwavering obsession with offering them the best possible service experience and undisputable drive for disruption that creates competition and innovation in wireless and beyond. Based in Bellevue, Wash., T-Mobile provides services through its subsidiaries and operates its flagship brands, T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile.

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Xactly Corp

Xactly delivers a scalable, enterprise platform for planning and incenting sales organizations, including sales quota and territory planning, incentive compensation management, and predictive analytics. Using this powerful sales performance management (SPM) portfolio, customers mitigate risk, accele...

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