What's the read into tech from last night's two biggest winners: Action Alerts PLUS portfolio holding Cisco (CSCO) and salesforce.com (CRM)? I think it is all about offering the customer a faster and cheaper way to keep track and use their overwhelming fire hose of data that spews far more than any great set of minds can handle and handle carefully, thoughtfully, usefully and with security.
Both of these companies are reinventing themselves. It's starker with Cisco, because many analysts are still thinking that this company is all about mundane switching and routing systems. That's still a huge business, but what Cisco has really done is build subscription businesses that make Internet traffic more secure and more easily applied.
Customers want solutions to all of their data flow, from machines to people to customers and, as amorphous as that sounds, they turn to Cisco because they are already using Cisco for the routing and switching. It has that gigantic $180 billion installed base of customers that are desperate for help and know they can turn to Cisco because they have for years.
They don't want other solutions from other vendors if they don't have to get them. They know Cisco understands the type of cloud they are using -- public, private, hybrid -- and can help the company manage the new digital streams that used to be paper streams.
While Cisco has had to adapt to the cloud, salesforce.com has been killing it, because Marc Benioff's only agenda is the cloud. He wants a company's systems to work better on the only device he really seems to care about, the cellphone, and that's the same device that all of the smart companies want their execs to use.
More important, I think the customers that Benioff talked about last night on the call, none other than Growth Seeker portfolio holding Amazon.com (AMZN) and Uber, show you what salesforce.com is doing. Amazon has the best customer relations in the world -- ask anyone from any brick-and-mortar company and they will tell you that -- and, as Benioff says, he and Bezos have a meeting of the minds about how to use salesforce.com to make sure that they know exactly what the customer wants.
I also thought it was pretty amazing to hear that Uber turned to salesforce.com to be sure it can figure out what the drivers want. If it can get the drivers to be happy, then it has happier customers and that's the secret to taking driver share in the most important markets, something that must happen if Uber is to both box out Lyft and steal drivers from the regular old cab companies.
I think that these two companies right now get, more than just about any other tech company, that their customers are overwhelmed. As far as salesforce.com is concerned, they are turning to Accenture and PwC and Deloitte for help, and that means they are now turning to their partner, none other than salesforce.com.
For Cisco, they are turning to who is already in the building for telecommunications and networking and saying "help us with all of this, make sense of it for us and don't let anyone steal anything from us." Cisco, instead of saying "hey, we are switching and routing", says "sure, we have a solution for you, we have your back."
Yep, Cisco and salesforce.com are offering solutions to the overwhelming data that determines the future for these organizations.
Everyone else is just trying to compile it and give it back to them, and hope it isn't stolen in the process.