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        Stephen Hurrell's Analyst Perspectives

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        2024 Market Agenda for Office of Revenue: Bring AI to the Table

        Ventana Research recently announced its 2024 research agenda for the Office of Revenue, continuing the guidance we have offered for nearly two decades to help enterprises across industries derive optimal value and improved outcomes from business technology. Chief Sales and Revenue Officers face an imperative to manage their sales and revenue organizations, but they do not always have the guidance they need to embrace technology. As we look forward to 2024, we are focusing on the entire selling and buying journey, how changing buyer behavior is exacerbating challenges in achieving targets and whether recent developments in Generative AI can help. We are looking at applications that simplify processes and tasks across the customer buying experience from beginning to end. 

        Our research agenda is crafted using our firm’s expertise on business requirements and our knowledge of software providers and products. Through our continuous market research, we 2024_VR_Market_Agenda_Logooffer insights and best practices for both the lines of business and IT as well as across industry verticals that will help any enterprise reach its maximum potential. 

        In 2024, we will continue our focus on the broader concept of revenue management to help enterprises address their strategy, planning and operations. The rise of digital commerce and subscription business models has shifted enterprises’ primary focus on new business. With the higher cost of new customer acquisition and the resulting importance of customer retention and expansion, the entire customer experience is of vital importance in building and sustaining a business. These processes that support the customer experience require specific technology—a 360-degree view of customers, digital buying technology, pricing optimization for managing B2C and B2B models, configure-price-quote (CPQ) and contract lifecycle management (CLM) applications to enable adjusting contract terms based on the configuration of products as is most often found in B2B-focused enterprises. We also will focus on the mixed-revenue model that includes the subscription management experience as, for many industries, this is a growing part of the overall customer journey. 

        Improving sales outcomes and revenue are key to sales effectiveness, and emerging sales applications and tools provide the path to that goal. New applications and tools geared toward salespeople and processes are designed to help not just with managing sales teams but also to help salespeople effectively sell. The launch of competing GenAI offerings in 2023 allowed many software providers to incorporate these new technologies in applications. Our research in 2024 will focus on how all aspects of AI, not just GenAI, can be applied to address specific use cases in managing revenue. We will conduct market research and publish a Buyer’s Guide in CRM covering the departmental and process perspective of software providers and products. Reflecting this, our sales and revenue practice addresses six focus areas: Digital Commerce, Revenue Management, Sales Engagement, Sales and Revenue Performance Management, Subscription Management and Partner Management. 

        Digital Commerce 

        Digital commerce enables enterprises to engage with any type of customer across digital channels—the web, mobile apps, text, voice-activated “agents,” video and social channels—toVentana_Research_2024_Assertion_DigiCommerce_Unified_Customer_Data_17_S deliver an optimal customer and product experience. In the world of digital commerce, the customer and product experience are top differentiators. Conversational computing as well as hyper-personalization are transforming customer engagement, and many enterprises will need to renovate their digital platform to optimize customer and product experiences or risk falling behind competitors. With the emergence of GenAI, enterprises can combine improved understanding of customers with more dynamic tailoring of product and service information and pricing and bundle offers. And by 2026, one-half of enterprises will conclude that they need to heavily invest in first- and third-party data to provide a unified view of individual customer behavior—including propensity to buy—to retain customers. 

        Moving beyond consumer purchase, we will also look at how B2B selling and buying are increasingly using B2C digital approaches to mirror this experience. We will conduct Buyers Guide research in 2024 to identify best practices and assess and rate software providers’ potential to help meet evolving commerce needs.  

        Revenue Management 

        With the rise of digital commerce and the subscription and usage business models, enterprises are increasingly recognizing that the traditional primacy of a new customer-focusVentana_Research_2024_Assertion_OfficeOfRevenue_Unified_RevOps_4_S needs to change. As new customer acquisition costs are high, both retention and existing customer expansion are of equal importance. And with the exponential growth of data—not just generated internally through CRM, order and back-office systems, but with the addition of third-party location and firmographic—technology can be used to help identify, navigate and execute new paths to revenue. In addition, with regulatory changes and buyer dissatisfaction with traditional marketing outreach sales, marketing and customer success will need to plan and operate together to ensure all departments are aligned to a company’s revenue goals.  

        Despite this, through 2026, fewer than 3 in 10 enterprises will replace disparate marketing, sales and customer operations teams with a unified revenue operations approach, thus lowering their revenue growth. We will conduct new Buyer’s Guide research in 2024 to identify best practices and assess and rate software providers’ potential to help meet emerging revenue management needs across all aspects of the buyer and customer journey. We will also focus on the importance of evaluating CRM implementations and whether they are keeping up with business process changes, as so much of software providers’ feature development is dependent on the quality and timeliness of the underlying data to drive insights and AI recommendations. 

        Sales Engagement 

        Sales engagement facilitates intelligent engagement and execution by sales professionals to achieve optimal revenue outcomes. With a recognized decline in quota attainment, a shift inVentana_Research_2024_Assertion_SalesEngagement_Competitive_Insight_Tech_57_S balance to buyers through internet-based research capabilities and changes wrought by the pandemic, software providers have been focusing more on how to help sell and not just manage sales. After a slow start, systems that use AI for opportunity scoring, to analyze sales interactions, recommend next best actions and with GenAI to help with outreach and communication with buyers, technology is finally starting to assist sellers and not just management. In fact, by 2026, more than one-half of sales enterprises will need new data-driven AI technology to gain market and competitive insights and enable sales professionals to adapt selling motions to engage effectively for optimal outcomes. 

        We do not believe sales enablement should exist as a separate category as much of the need and recent technical innovations link enablement to engagement; and, like engagement, it is increasingly utilizing much of the same data as sales engagement applications to drive effectiveness within selling teams. Enterprises should invest in sales engagement capabilities designed to support salespersons and not just those that manage sales teams. In 2024, we will examine the need for sales engagement applications as separate applications from CRM Systems as well as conduct Buyer’s Guide research on sales engagement software providers and into the proposal to contract process in CPQ and CLM. 

        Sales and Revenue Performance Management 

        Revenue performance management (RPM) is the natural successor to sales performance management (SPM) and enables revenue and sales leaders to align strategy and planning toVentana_Research_2024_Assertion_RPM_RPM_Subscription_Models_46_S optimally engage all types of accounts and territories, whether supported by direct, partner or self-service digital commerce channels, using quotas and compensation to achieve the best possible outcomes. In addition, we will reflect the changing focus from solely new business to include those involved in customer retention and expansion. Managing revenue performance requires that enterprises effectively plan revenue processes and resources; it is critical that planning be collaborative to optimize engagement and boost revenue performance.  

        Despite this importance, by 2027, only slightly more than 1 in 5 enterprises will deploy dedicated sales and revenue performance management in response to the changing business economics of subscription models and omnichannel selling to consistently achieve revenue targets. 

        Organizational and ownership issues of the processes needed for effective RPM are often impediments to a more effective balance between planning and execution. We recommend that enterprises that are planning to adopt RPM use our most recent Revenue Performance Management Buyers Guide to identify appropriate software providers and products and to also examine sales compensation and sales performance management software providers. 

        Subscription Management 

        Subscription management involves processes and applications designed to manage the subscriber experience from first digital touch to subscriber engagement and billing. ToVentana_Research_2024_Assertion_SubscriptionMgmt_Mixed_Revenue_Models_68_S engage subscribers more effectively, enterprises must prioritize technology that enhances the subscriber experience by automating subscriber operations and financial processes. More broadly, subscriptions should more readily be thought of as part of a range of different pricing and engagement models that enterprises can utilize for their product and service offerings. Many B2B companies are adding subscription business models as part of their overall revenue mix to remain competitive as well as leverage new revenue streams to accompany existing product and service lines.  

        In fact, by 2027, over one-half of all enterprises will deploy a mixed revenue model that includes subscriptions and usage pricing in addition to one-time sales as enterprises make adjustments to remain competitive. For B2B companies, a usage-based business model may make more sense, imposing new requirements on software providers to enable pricing models that support individually negotiated contracts. Our 2023 Subscription Management Buyers Guide that reviews best practices and assesses and rates software providers’ potential to help meet emerging subscription needs is required reading for enterprises investigating offerings in this area. We will be publishing an updated guide in 2024. 

        Partner Management 

        Partner management involves processes and applications designed to support businesses that bundle or resell other providers’ services and products. Although not new, this is aVentana_Research_2024_Assertion_PartnerMgmt_Partner_Bundles_25_S growing model where an ecosystem of providers supply customers with a mix of their own products and services with those from other third parties. By 2027, 1 in 5 enterprises will be engaged with a partner ecosystem to deliver bundled products and services to customers, adding customer value to offerings and expanding addressable markets. This necessitates new onboarding processes, revenue allocation and service level agreement (SLA) monitoring and reporting. We will conduct new Buyers Guide Research in 2024 to identify and rate software provider’s potential to help meet emerging partner management needs. 

        Every sales organization, no matter how many employees it has or the size of its revenue, has an opportunity to significantly improve the selling experience. Enhancements to underlying processes and technology can have an immediate impact on top- and bottom-line results. Determining your path forward in 2024 requires an effective strategy and knowledge of the technology you need to improve or add to your existing portfolio of investments.  

        Subscribe to our community to keep up to date on our research efforts in 2024 and navigate to our revenue expertise and topic areas to see the detailed agenda and continuously updated 90-day calendar as well as more research facts and best practices. 

        Regards,

        Stephen Hurrell

        Authors:

        Stephen Hurrell
        Director of Research, Office of Revenue

        Stephen Hurrell leads the Office of Revenue software research and advisory expertise at Ventana Research, now part of ISG and guides leaders in the applications and technology for buying and selling products and services to maximize revenue. His topics of coverage include digital commerce, partner management, revenue management, sales engagement, revenue performance management and subscription management.

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