Salesforce1 Road Show: Overall impression

Yesterday I attended the Saleforce.com 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.

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