It took a trip out to San Francisco last December for me to confirm my belief that Salesforce.com was opening up the next round of opportunity for business large and small with their Force.com platform.
It is true to say they started with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) at the heart of their business in the early noughties and it’s also true to say they’ve perfected and cornered this market. And in doing so they’ve created the Force.com platform that allows over 92,300 customers to operate their business on the same platform: not just the sales process but any functional area – all the way from front- to back-office. Because the platform is a pay on demand platform it offers robust scalability from the day you sign up irrespective of the size of the business.
I’ve been watching things develop withe Force.com over a few years and paid extra attention when they opened the platform up to non-proprietary development tools like Java and Ruby on Rails. This made practical sense allowing the business world to tap into the existing development skills-base without having to be constrained to their proprietary tool base called Apex.
A decade ago, CRM earned a bad reputation when Gartner reported that 50% to 70% of CRM software installations failed. The acronym CRM is tainted, I’ be the first to admit that but I’d like you to argue with me that you don’t need a system that puts your customer right in the heart of your organisation – call it what you want. There is no business without a customer.
Most of the damage done to the reputation of CRM was a result of huge-budgeted implementations of Siebel or the like – monolithic, expensive, inflexible requiring massive investment in hardware, software and implementation. Salesforce.com has changed all this and Gartner awarded them the Magic Quadrant leader. Have a look at Salesforce.com’s UK customers success stories.
Since the advent of Facebook and the emergence of f-Commerce, CRM has become even more important and the ability to interact with your existing and potential customers online (and specifically in Facebook) is increasingly important. Whether it’s just a conversation or whether that conversation turns into a recommendation or even a sale you will surely want it to happen on the same technology platform: a platform that allows you to be develop quickly and reliably; a platform that allows you to have that conversation and transaction on any device – mobile or otherwise.
The Cluetrain Manifesto is now over a decade old but their predictions hold even more true today. Markets are about conversations (take the old Bazaars) and technology is restoring those old values. Salesforce.com isn’t just about CRM, it’s about the future of building your business out of those Cluetrain.com conversations using a trusted, robust and scalable platform available to all regardless of your business size. Doesn’t that sound empowering and compelling?