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 Desk.com. 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.

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