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

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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AELF Partners with ChainsAtlas to Pioneer Interoperability in Blockchain

PR Newswire | January 09, 2024

aelf is advancing cross-chain interoperability through a strategic partnership with ChainsAtlas. By utilising ChainsAtlas' innovative virtualisation technology, aelf will enable decentralised applications (dApps) from diverse blockchains to seamlessly migrate and integrate into the aelf blockchain, regardless of the dApps' smart contract specifications. This collaboration marks a significant step towards a globally interconnected and efficient blockchain ecosystem, breaking down the silos between blockchains. Khaniff Lau, Business Development Director at aelf, shares, "The strategic partnership with ChainsAtlas is a significant step towards realising our vision of a seamlessly interconnected blockchain world. With this integration, aelf is set to become a hub for cross-chain activities, enhancing our ability to support a wide array of dApps, digital assets, and Web2 apps. This collaboration is not just about technology integration; it's about shaping the future of how services and products on blockchains interact and operate in synergy." Jan Hanken, Co-founder of ChainsAtlas, says, "ChainsAtlas was always built to achieve two major goals: to make blockchain development accessible to a broad spectrum of developers and entrepreneurs and, along that path, to pave the way for a truly omnichain future." "By joining forces with aelf, we are bringing that visionary future much closer to reality. As we anticipate the influx of creativity from innovators taking their first steps into the world of Web3 on aelf, driven by ChainsAtlas technology, we are excited to see these groundbreaking ideas come to life," adds Hanken. The foundation for true cross-chain interoperability is being built as aelf integrates ChainsAtlas' Virtualization Unit (VU), enabling the aelf blockchain to accommodate both EVM and non-EVM digital assets. This cross-chain functionality is accomplished through ChainsAtlas' virtualisation technology, allowing aelf to interpret and execute smart contracts written in other languages supported by ChainsAtlas, while also establishing state transfer mechanisms that facilitate seamless data and asset flow between aelf and other blockchains. Through this partnership, aelf blockchain's capabilities will be enhanced as it is able to support a more comprehensive range of dApps and games, and developers from diverse coding backgrounds will now be empowered to build on aelf blockchain. This partnership will also foster increased engagement within the Web3 community as users can gain access to a more diverse range of digital assets on aelf. Looking ahead, the partnership between aelf and ChainsAtlas will play a pivotal role in advancing the evolution of aelf's sidechains by enabling simultaneous execution of program components across multiple VUs on different blockchains. About aelf aelf, a high-performance Layer 1 featuring multi-sidechain technology for unlimited scalability. aelf blockchain is designed to power the development of Web3 and support its continuous advancement into the future. Founded in 2017 with its global hub based in Singapore, aelf is one of the pioneers of the mainchain-sidechain architecture concept. Incorporating key foundational components, including AEDPoS, aelf's variation of a Delegated Proof-of-Stake (DPoS) consensus protocol; parallel processing; peer-to-peer (P2P) network communication; cross-chain bridges, and a dynamic side chain indexing mechanism, aelf delivers a highly efficient, safe, and modular ecosystem with high throughput, scalability, and interoperability. aelf facilitates the building, integrating, and deploying of smart contracts and decentralised apps (dApps) on its blockchain with its native C# software development kit (SDK) and SDKs in other languages, including Java, JS, Python, and Go. aelf's ecosystem also houses a range of dApps to support a flourishing blockchain network. aelf is committed to fostering innovation within its ecosystem and remains dedicated to driving the development of Web3 and the adoption of blockchain technology. About ChainsAtlas ChainsAtlas introduces a new approach to Web3 infrastructure, blending multiple blockchain technologies and smart contract features to create a unified, efficient processing network. Its core innovation lies in virtualization-enabled smart contracts, allowing consistent software operation across different blockchains. This approach enhances decentralized applications' complexity and reliability, promoting easier integration of existing software into the blockchain ecosystem. The team behind ChainsAtlas, driven by the transformative potential of blockchain, aims to foster global opportunities and equality. Their commitment to building on existing blockchain infrastructure marks a significant step towards a new phase in Web3, where advanced and reliable decentralized applications become the norm, setting new standards for the future of decentralized networks.

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Virtualized Environments

Ludium Lab, Access, and XPENG present Europe's first cloud gaming platform for in-car entertainment

GlobeNewswire | January 05, 2024

ACCESS, Ludium Lab, and XPENG today announced they have collaborated to make cloud gaming for in-car displays a reality. This project combines ACCESS IVI (in-vehicle infotainment) technology with Ludium Lab's cloud gaming platform to enable XPENG customers can enjoy state-of-the-art cloud gaming. The project sees SoraStream white-labeled as XPLAY from Ludium Lab, and enabled through the Twine4Car app store platform from ACCESS provided in XPENG vehicles. XPLAY gives users access to a large catalog of PC, mobile, and console games, including major AAA games and games exclusive to Ludium Lab. “In-car entertainment is an increasingly important part of the car-buying decision, so offering an exciting portfolio of audio, games, and video entertainment through XPLAY is critical,” said Brian Gu, Vice Chairman and President of XPENG. “The collaboration with ACCESS and Ludium Labs ensures that easy and enjoyable journeys in an XPENG will be engaging for everyone thanks to the high-quality cloud gaming developed specifically for our extra-wide infotainment screens.” A stand-out feature of the gaming performance is the 60 FPS Full HD games that can be played on XPENG infotainment screens. Users do not need to download any games, and the service includes parental controls. The XPLAY service also uses a monthly subscription model. “Our Twine4Car Platform and App Store is a content aggregation platform that for the first time brings together the latest in IVI technology and premium content in a fully OEM-branded interface,” said Aono Masahiro, CEO of ACCESS Europe. “The addition of Sora Stream from Ludium Lab ensures that XPENG car users have access to a truly engaging mobility experience” “The collaboration between all three companies has been essential in enabling the launch of this disruptive and innovative in-car cloud-gaming service,” says Juan José Martín, CEO of Ludium Lab. “Our SoraStream solution offers a large video game catalog for all kinds of players, making this project an exciting opportunity for XPENG customers.” About Ludium Lab Ludium Lab is a technology company founded in Spain in 2012. Expert and leader in cloud services and solutions, the company works in more than 60 countries around the world. Its activity is currently focused on adapting its technology to cloud gaming platforms (SoraStream development), automotive (ICE), metaverse solution, SaaS and XR (Vr/Ar). The team is working to perfect its software virtualization technology and implementation in different solutions and products, with high quality and low costs. About ACCESS Since 1984, ACCESS CO., LTD. (Tokyo Stock Exchange Prime Market, Index, 4813) has been providing advanced IT solutions centred on mobile and network software technologies to telecom carriers, consumer electronics manufacturers, broadcasting and publishing companies, the automotive industry and energy infrastructure providers around the world. The company develops mobile software solutions that have been installed on over 1.5 billion devices, and network software solutions that have been used by hundreds of companies. Utilising its network virtualisation technology expertise and knowledge, the company is currently focusing on the development and commercialisation of Internet of Things (IoT) and media solutions that combine embedded and cloud technology. Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, the company maintains subsidiaries and affiliates in Asia, Europe and the United States to support and expand its business globally. About XPENG XPENG is a global smart electric vehicle company founded in 2014 in Guangzhou, China, developing clean, intuitive, and creative mobility solutions. With industry-leading R&D facilities, XPENG is bringing vehicles with superior safety, electric efficiency, and on-road performance to markets across the globe. The company is constantly working to advance its core technology offering, including autonomous driving capabilities, SEPA 2.0, and captivating in-car infotainment systems. XPENG has headquarters in Guangzhou and Amsterdam, with additional offices in Beijing, Shanghai, and Silicon Valley. XPENG has started sales in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands with its P7 sports sedan and ultra-fast charging G9 SUV in 2023.

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Virtualized Environments

VeriSilicon Unveils the New VC9800 IP for Next Generation Data Centers

Business Wire | January 09, 2024

VeriSilicon today unveiled its latest VC9800 series Video Processor Unit (VPU) IP with enhanced video processing performance to strengthen its presence in the data center applications. The newly launched series IP caters to the advanced requirements of next generation data centers including video transcoding servers, AI servers, virtual cloud desktops, and cloud gaming. The VC9800 series of VPU IP boasts high performance, high throughput, and server-level multi-stream encoding and decoding capabilities. It can handle up to 256 streams and support all mainstream video formats, including the new advanced format VVC. Through Rapid Look Ahead encoding, the VC9800 series IP improves video quality significantly with low memory footprint and encoding latency. With capable of supporting 8K encoding and decoding, it offers enhanced video post-processing and multi-channel encoding at various resolutions, thus achieves an efficient transcoding solution. The VC9800 series of VPU IP can seamlessly interface with Neural Network Processor (NPU) IP, enabling a complete AI-video pipeline. When combined with VeriSilicon’s Graphics Processor Unit (GPU) IP, the subsystem solution is able to deliver enhanced gaming experiences. In addition, the hardware virtualization, super resolution image enhancement, and AI-enabled encoding functions of this series IP also offer effective solutions for virtual cloud desktops. “VeriSilicon’s advanced video transcoding technology continues leading in Data Center domain. We are working closely with global leading customers to develop comprehensive video processing subsystem solutions to meet the requirements of the latest Data Centers,” said Wei-Jin Dai, Executive VP and GM of IP Division of VeriSilicon. “For AI computing, our video post-processing capabilities have been extended to smoothly interact with NPUs, ensuring OpenCV-level accuracy. We’ve also introduced super resolution technology to the video processing subsystem, elevating image quality and ultimately enhancing user experiences for cloud computing and smart display.” About VeriSilicon VeriSilicon is committed to providing customers with platform-based, all-around, one-stop custom silicon services and semiconductor IP licensing services leveraging its in-house semiconductor IP.

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