At their annual Dreamforce event in San Francisco this week, Salesforce.com announced its latest features and offerings available in the Winter '12 release of its SaaS CRM product. While there was a good deal of talk around the "Social Enterprise" and their Twitter-like Chatter product (announced in 2009), the new product offerings announced are primarily geared around the data that is at the foundation of an organization's CRM system.
So why the focus on data? Now that there is a broad base of customers that have been using Salesforce CRM for years, the demands from these customers do not appear to be around new CRM-related features, but rather the data requirements that exist at the very core of CRM.
Early in the CRM system discovery process customers can get excited by slick product functionality. Yet, as these CRM systems are put to use and optimized, its the data and data-related issues that ultimately come to the forefront of an organization's needs.
For example, announcements included:
- Database.com, an "Enterprise Cloud" database available over the Web has now reached general availability with the capability of creating "deep social profiles".
- a "Data Residency Option" is now available within Database.com, allowing critical and/or sensitive data to be stored somewhere else other than Salesforce.com's data centers (perhaps a response to Larry Ellison's data security critiques of Salesforce?).
- Data.com is a new service announced that allows company and prospect data such as that available from Jigsaw (acquired last year by Salesforce.com) and Dun & Bradstreet to be pulled into a company or contact record.
In other words, after listening to customer feedback, Salesforce has recognized how critical data assets are to the success of a CRM implementation. This should be an indicator to anyone implementing CRM, from Salesforce.com or anywhere else, how important a focus on the data itself must be for success. Look for more data-oriented solutions to come out of Salesforce.com and its partners, including continuing enhancements to data quality solutions for Salesforce like StrikeIron provides.
Salesforce.com is holding its Dreamforce event this week in San Francisco, and its staggering run continues to show no signs of slowing. The conference is Salesforce's eighth and largest ever, with twenty-two thousand attendees. Salesforce and its CRM "Sales Cloud" has always been one of the poster-children for SAAS, and is now riding the Cloud wave higher and higher. It was a product offering originally geared towards SMBs with minimal IT staff but now has penetrated companies of all sizes with its annual revenue run rate of $1.7 billion USD.
The use of the product at large companies is a clear signal. It was very telling during the keynote that half of the enormous audience raised their hands when Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com's CEO, asked how many in the keynote hall were from companies with 1000 or more employees. This is solid evidence that SAAS, and the Cloud, or at least the Salesforce.com version of the Cloud, has arrived emphatically in the enterprise and is growing there at great speed.
Salesforce has not only been a success for the company itself, but also for its hundreds of technology and product partners, many of which are at the expo with booths (including StrikeIron). Many of these partners have fared well providing add-on capabilities (like our native, Force.com data verification/quality services for Salesforce) to the core CRM and related-product suite. For example, there has been an 82% increase of application installs from the partner AppExchange this year versus the same time last year, nearly doubling the usage of partner applications and add-ons.
Some other feathers in the Salesforce cap:
In addition to its recent nine-figure acquisition of Jigsaw (a giant, crowd-sourced database of business cards), a $212M+stock acquistion of Heroku, a Ruby-based platform-as-a-service play was announced this morning.
- Salesforce's Chatter product was named as one of eWeek's "products of the year".
- The stock price (NYSE:CRM) has doubled in the past year.
- They have recently acquired 14 acres of land (at a price of $278M) near downtown San Francisco for groundbreaking of a brand new campus, as they are currently busting at the seams at their current Financial District address (spanning multiple high-rise buildings).
- New offerings such as Database.com (a Cloud-based database product) and Chatter.com (Facebook for businesses and business people) have been announced.
- Revenue continues to grow at 35% year, and recently beat analyst revenue estimates (November).
And on and on...
And since nearly 80% of all software purchases are still for on-premise software applications, there's a long way for Salesforce, and the Cloud, to go.
So anyone who suggests that Web-based applications, the Cloud, and SAAS applications are a short-term fad need only look to Salesforce.com for the evidence that suggests otherwise.