6 May

Salesforce’s growth strategy focuses on the Internet of Customers

WRITTEN BY Samantha Nielson

Salesforce strategy

In November of last year, before beginning its annual Dreamforce conference, Salesforce (CRM) introduced an industry-specific strategy called Salesforce1, which it said is the new social, mobile, and cloud customer platform built to transform sales, service, and marketing apps. According to the company, Salesforce1 is the first CRM platform for developers, independent software vendors (ISVs), end users, admins, and customers moving to the new social, mobile, and connected cloud. Salesforce said in its first month, the Salesforce1 Customer Platform drove a 96% increase in active users of the Salesforce1 mobile app and a 46% increase in active users of custom mobile apps.

Salesforce’s growth strategy focuses on the Internet of Customers

Gartner said in its CRM outlook that the main drivers behind the hot topics in CRM—cloud, social, mobile, and big data—are being joined by a fifth driver, the Internet of Things, where sensors connecting things to the Internet to create new services previously not thought of. As cars, buildings, bodies, and chairs connect to the Internet and as the price of sensors and communications drops down toward $1, the automotive, construction, healthcare, and hospitality industries (among many others) will transform. At the forefront of this shift will be sales, marketing, and customer service departments in promoting, selling, and supporting the new services, Gartner said in its news release. “Hot areas for CRM investment include mobility, social media and technologies, Web analytics and e-commerce,” a Gartner analyst said.

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff spoke on the third wave of computing last year—namely, the Internet of Things. This era features all kinds of new channels in which companies can engage customers, with four and a half billion aggregate social users, five billion smartphones by 2017, and 50 billion connected products expected in the marketplace—all powered by the cloud. Benioff believes that behind everything put on the Internet—every device, every app, and every tweet—is a customer. “We need to reassess how we connect to our customers in a whole new way. Some companies pivot to their shareholders, or partners. We pivot to our customers. Pivot to your customers. That is what the new world is about,” Benioff said. Under the Internet of Customers, every company can connect every app, employee, partner, product, and device with customers using the power of social, mobile, and cloud.

What is Salesforce1?

The Salesforce1 technology works as a custom publisher. Developers can use Salesforce1 to build next-generation apps, ISVs can use it to publish those apps, admins can use it to manage Salesforce from anywhere, and end users can experience all of this on any device. Salesforce1 has built its API (application programming interface) first to enable developers to build the next generation of social and mobile apps.

The new Salesforce1 platform brings together Force.com, Heroku1, and ExactTarget under a single family of cloud services that will help deliver apps that connect products, users, and next-generation experiences. Force.com, the platform-as-a-service, helps developers create and deploy next-generation cloud apps using APIs and frameworks. The new version of Heroku, Heroku1, enables companies to build on Heroku powered by Salesforce CRM to deliver next-generation customer-centric apps. With ExactTarget Fuel, companies can now offer their customers 1:1 engagements at scale through custom automated marketing campaigns. The new Salesforce1 AppExchange, built on the Salesforce1 Customer Platform, enables ISVs such as Dropbox, Evernote, Kenandy, and LinkedIn to build, market, and distribute apps. Salesforce1 and AppExchange give ISVs everything needed to build, package, and sell apps—including trials, upgrades, and support—to ensure a high-growth cloud business. The company said ISVs can now sell apps on AppExchange with more than 2,000,000 installs.

The company said major ISVs, such as DocuSign and Xactly, are now on the Salesforce1 Customer Platform and the new Salesforce1 Sales Cloud is powering companies like ADP, HP, and Philips. The Salesforce Console for Sales enables connected selling and streams Deal Trending information, the latest lead and social insights with Salesforce Pardot sales campaign management, sales coaching with Salesforce Work.com and Salesforce Chatter, and the latest customer data with Salesforce Data.com.

Salesforce said partner apps built and optimized for the Salesforce1 Customer Platform have already doubled since its launch, and more than 250 partners have committed to delivering new Salesforce1 apps on the Salesforce1 AppExchange. Companies such as Design Within Reach, Fisher & Paykel, and Valspar run its business on Salesforce1.

Future growth initiatives

With an aim grow to $10 billion and beyond, Salesforce announced a new industry strategy to expand its footprint within existing customers and reach new enterprise customers. The company has set up a New Industries Business Unit to deliver social, mobile, and connected cloud solutions for six global industries—financial services/insurance, health care/life sciences, retail/consumer products, communications/media, public sector, and automotive/manufacturing. The unit will leverage solutions built on the Salesforce1 Platform.

Salesforce recently said it plans to further increase its commitment to Europe with new strategic investments after posting full fiscal year 2014 revenue growth of 41% in Europe. It announced its plans to add more than 500 new jobs across Europe during its fiscal year 2015. The company also plans to open new data centres in the UK, France, and Germany. Salesforce.com plans to open its first data centre in the UK in August 2014, with additional data centres to open in France and Germany in 2015. The release said the company’s investments build on the longstanding commitment to Europe and continued demand from companies of all sizes, including BMW Group, Pernod Ricard, and Zeiss.

In a move to prepare for the shift to the IoT scenario, which is wholly dependent on cloud, Salesforce and old rival Oracle forged a comprehensive nine-year partnership last year encompassing all three tiers of cloud computing: Applications, Platform, and Infrastructure. Under the partnership, Salesforce will use Oracle servers and databases as the hardware platform for its SaaS cloud offerings. Salesforce will also implement Oracle’s Fusion HCM (Human Capital Management) and Financial cloud applications. Oracle forged partnerships with Microsoft (MSFT) and Netsuite (N) last year to strengthen its presence in the cloud. Salesforce.com and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) announced a plan last year to create a Salesforce Superpod, a dedicated instance in the Salesforce multi-tenant cloud, running on HP’s Converged Infrastructure. The companies said they plan to jointly develop and market the Salesforce Superpod to the world’s largest enterprises. HP intends to be the first customer to be deployed on a Salesforce Superpod.

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