Category Archives: CRM

Google and Salesforce announce major business intelligence acquisitions

Less than a week apart, Google announced the acquisition of Looker and Salesforce announced the acquisition of Tableau. Both large companies have begun to realize they’ve never really addressed the need for analytics. They’re great at saving and organizing data, but neither has a suite worth anything to provide easier to use dashboards and analytics that are key component of business intelligence.

I have two brief articles on discussing the announcements.

Salesforce1 and “The Internet of Customers”

This is the second part of a series on the Salesforce1 road show held in Philadelphia on March 6, 2014.

One key point repeated throughout the road show event was that behind every device in The Internet of Things is a customer. Good point. The question is if Salesforce is beginning to truly address that and not just prospects.

In the early 1990s, I worked at Aurum Software, one of the companies that created the market. In those days, all the companies, Scopus, Vantive and a few others were trying to address the full customer interface. We had a single database and built early SFA, CRM and customer support applications on top of the database. Unfortunately, neither the hardware or software allowed for both quick development and the number of users supported from all the branches. In addition, since the areas were all pretty new, most prospects wanted to start with one of the three applications. That caused the three branches to split up and they’ve been separate for most of the last twenty years.

Salesforce is one of the companies working to bring it all together again. As one of the oldest and most successful of the SaaS companies, they’ve been focused on the power of the cloud and how to expand. In the road show, they did a good job of showing SFA, CRM and customer support applications working in concert to benefit companies wanting to understand the true picture of their interactions with their customers.

The company has acquired ExactTarget and Pardot to provide the confusing pair of automated marketing and marketing automation. ExactTarget provides list management, schedule and automated distribution of emails (automated marketing). Pardot helps marketing manage campaigns and lead through those campaigns (marketing automation). I was very impressed by both the Pardot software and team. The software works well on its own and has tight integration with Salesforce SFA, though there’s still work to do in order to show good closed-loop reporting.

On the support side, Salesforce advertises their Service Cloud, supposedly powered by I’m not as impressed by this as I am the CRM, but the strategy is in place. In addition, having designed for the internet, SaaS has a good partner ecosystem with a number of products and SI’s at the roadshow to help add service to the other customer facing systems.

The technology is finally in place to build integrated systems that can give management a view of all their customer interactions, and Salesforce has the strategy in place to achieve that. However, as they’ve been focused on acquiring the pieces and building the integration, the one piece still missing is true business intelligence, and that will be the focus of my next post.

Salesforce1 Road Show: Overall impression

Yesterday I attended the event in Philadelphia, a road show for Salesforce1. Over the next week, I’ll cover some specific topics of interest from the event, but this post is only an overview of my general impressions.

Salesforce1 is presented officially as their new platform. As they say, “One Customer Platform to Connect Everything.”  It’s their product, so the key messages have to focus on them, but the underlying message was even stronger.

While again and again they explicitly bragged about how the platform was great for mobile, and sometimes you might have gotten the impression that that was the only reason for the new platform, there was an implicit message that ran through the event.

Saleforce began as a simple sales system aimed at SMB. It allowed only minor customizations and was very attractive to companies that just needed something that worked rather than something that reflected a large company’s unique selling practices. That was intentional and brilliant for two reasons. First, the SMB market was vastly underserved, with the existing SFA companies focused in enterprise. Second, it was the best way to build a SaaS business.

As the company grew, it became clear that the decision wasn’t tactical but rather it was very strategic. Saleforce worked very hard to expand past that start. SaaS matured, hardware and software became faster, more was possible. The company began expanding its offerings to provide customization and features needed for enterprise.

At the same time they worked with many companies in partnerships, as is the norm in our industry. While they have acquired many companies, such as ExactTarget and Pardot, they continue to work with other partners.

Every enterprise software company wants to brag about partnerships, but often their user conferences and roadshows are all about them in the corporate presentations, with only an exhibit hall or a couple of presentations focused on the ecosystem.

The road show, while based on the Salesforce1 platform, was all the more powerful because it avoided that wall. Every presentation I saw not only talked about Salesforce1 but gave examples of both acquired companies and partner solutions working within the Salesforce1 environment. Salesforce is pushing an ecosystem, not just a platform. That’s a powerful business message and it was done very well.

SFA & CRM for BI: Sales and Marketing redux

A few weeks back, I blogged about the necessity for sales and marketing to work in a symbiosis rather than a power struggle. This post is about what that means for SFA and CRM.

In the early 1990s, I worked at a startup named Aurum Software. It was one of the first companies to provide CRM solutions. On a humorous tangent, I’m happy CRM won. Our founder came from the ERP space and he had us call the solution Customer Resource Planning no matter how many times we told him CRP just wasn’t as polite an acronym as competition’s CRM.

One of the keys to the early success of Aurum and its competitors is that the core databases and software were set up to manage all customer facing applications. That mean we had sales, marketing and help desk front ends using the same database, so management could see a full picture of customer interaction.

Unfortunately, it was at a time when both software and hardware were much slower and CRM, as it still is, was very data intensive. To get people going, most ISVs concentrated on one of the three aspects and the split between CRM and SFA was born.

The result, over the past twenty years, was that the two systems rarely talked well with each other. Sales personnel would track their prospects through the funnel, marketing would track prospect and customer touch points in communications, but they were rarely linked and poorly linked if anything.

I worked with multiple companies who couldn’t sales and marketing information with any degree of business intelligence. One would just import the SFA’s first contact and that would always be the sole “lead source” tracked. Another did the opposite, the first campaign that ever received a ping from someone at a company was always considered to be the lead source for campaign analysis. It didn’t matter at either firm that the contact was a couple of years ago and a recent contact (sales or marketing) restarted the process.

One company tried to close the loop but didn’t know how. Marketing tracked campaigns in their CRM system and didn’t in their SFA system. A lead would be passed to sales, then that information would come back and the campaign information was no longer there and the loop couldn’t be closed.

What’s needed is for both sales and marketing to realize that BI requires a tighter link. Fortunately, the power of systems has advanced that better integration is starting to happen. In a bit of foreshadowing, I’ll say that I’m exciting to be going to’s Salesforce1 World Tour tomorrow. Salesforce burst onto the scene years ago with a simple SaaS SFA platform, but it was clear they always intended more. Now, with the growth of their own CRM offerings, it’s starting to come together. I’m interested in seeing more, asking more, then blogging more.