DreamForce 2010 had energy, intensity and focus that is rarely seen in enterprise software events. There are many excellent summaries of the event with Michael Krisgman’s The new age of sexy enterprise software – Part 1: Salesforce.com gets mojo being one of the best.
The bottom line is that Salesforce.com is redefining enterprise software – not just at the marketing or user level – but at the developer level as well.
2010: The Year of the Trojan Horse
At the center of this year’s DreamForce is the transformation of Salesforce.com into an enterprise platform provider, an endorser of open APIs including REST (Representational State Transfer), which the Salesforce.com development community had been asking for over a year. As the Google Trend graphic shows, the timing of a REST-based Salesforce.com API couldn’t’ have been better, it is now leading other APIs in terms of interest in trending data and adoption. Please click on the Google Trends graphic to enlarge for easier viewing.
Like the REST announcement, the timing of the Heroku acquisition last week shows how committed Salesforce.com is to creating a world-class development platform. Having Ruby on Rails as part of the development suite of applications further accelerates this strategy of dominating development platforms. The VMWare alliance does the same for Java.
There’s also urgency for getting as many developers onto Salesforce.com platforms, you can sense that in the presentations from the VPs of Development and from Marc Benioff as well. The quicker they can reach critical mass with developers on the Force.com platform the quicker they can move on to entirely new application areas. Chris Brogan would call it escape velocity and in the world of Salesforce.com, it looks a lot like a Trojan horse strategy of having as many applications in the enterprise on their platform as quickly as possible.
In the coming months, there will be more API-based announcements, more of an endorsement of open APIs. JSON APIs for example will become increasingly important in this strategy. Salesforce.com is out to win the stack war with a developer and API-driven land grab. CloudStock showed this company knows how to excel at evangelism. Time will tell if the Trojan horse strategy, now in full force, succeeds.
Note: The following is an excellent presentation on open APIs presented last week at CloudStock by John Musser. The analysis of Open API trending and analysis is worth reading, Salesforce.com must be studying these statistics given the strategy directions they are choosing.
There are plenty of sales teams exceeding their sales quotas today.
Much of their success comes from the commitment their companies have to creating sales training systems that are delivered over SaaS platforms. From Proctor & Gamble, which has a state-of-the-art sales training system delivered entirely over the Web, to General Electric who also has an exceptional sales training program and many others, there are companies investing heavily in SaaS-based training platforms for their sales and distribution networks. Many smaller software companies I have worked with use Force.com as the development platform to create their own sales and partner training systems entirely in-house as well. This area of SaaS application development is proliferating today. Here are several take-aways from the activity going on right now.
Of the thirteen companies I know of who have created their own sales training system entirely on a SaaS platform within the last year, seven have met or exceeded their sales quotas in their latest fiscal year. This is a 53% success rate.
What is going on is that the companies who beat their quotas launched their OnDemand training systems months before a major revenue event, including new product introductions and planned bundling campaigns. The result was a major increase in sales efficiency due to the accelerated and focused training.
- SaaS Training Systems Often Turn Into Competitive Analysis Hubs On Steroids. One enterprise software company is using Force.com as the platform of choice for creating an entire network of sites and portals on competitive analysis topics and projects. This has turned into an online community that unifies direct and channel partner sales with knowledge. It is very effective in distributing competitive pricing and strategy ideas on how to beat competitors on deals.
- Putting Tribal Knowledge to Work Selling. Taking the knowledge inside a company that is learned over time and getting it included in an online training system is invaluable. All companies in the 53% who are beating their quotas have done this. Their training managers are experts at gleaning tribal knowledge out of the company and getting it into the online learning systems so sales can use it to sell.
- Role-based learning that can be tailored to different selling scenarios is a must-have. This is what the Force.com platform does very well, it allows these companies, many of them in the B2B manufacturing arena, to create role-based learning paths and programs for their sales teams. Each member of a team has to go through the online training and score at a sufficient level to get more leads and get out to customers. The more they learn the more they earn.
Bottom line: Sales training is the secret weapon many companies are using to beat their competitors on deals today. The ability to deliver training anytime, anywhere on a SaaS platform just strengthens a sales force even more. Add in putting tribal knowledge to work and creating online competitive analysis hubs, and the competitive strengths of a company become even more formidable.
Bottom line: Reselling cloud computing services shows much potential as a market for technology platform and application providers. The challenge is the ability to tailor the services mix efficiently and accurately enough to capitalize on scalability and selective demand of mid-tier and small business end users.
Bottom line: The following video provides a topical, informative and useful update on the cloud computing landscape; it’s worth the 30 minutes to listen to and consider how rapid the development platforms are maturing.
Bottom line: Relying on the Force.com as the development platform, Chatter will be scalable across the Salesforce.com customer base immediately. Expect to see Chatter and its development community find innovative uses of this technology in selling, marketing automation, lead generation and service.
Bottom line: Most refreshing about this book is that Mr. Chou is striving to explain each of the seven business models with an unbiased analysis supported with company examples. He is on Twitter (@timothychou) and back in January asked for feedback on this book. If you have a passion for this area you might want to follow him on Twitter and see about helping out with the next edition.
Having struggled to gain a foothold in the enterprise, Google has this year gone after this market with increased focus and intensity. Part of this increased focus on the enterprise is going to involve exclusive events where CIOs have the chance to interact with industry thought leaders. The first of several events was held Monday of this week at the Googleplex.
For many enterprise software companies this is a very difficult subject as the control of the sales cycle is tantamount. Opponents argue that free software trials potentially derail sales cycles and give them less control.
Tien Tzuo, Chief Strategy Officer of Salesforce.com, explains how quickly the company learned that the sales cycles of SaaS-based applications required a much greater sense of urgency, a much more distributed workforce, and much more attention to lead nurturing than had been the case with sales cycles of enterprise applications.
Bottom line: During previous quarterly earnings calls Oracle has often said they see cloud computing as an aberration and a business that could not scale to profitability. Not wanting to leave any money on the table with enterprise accounts, Oracle gets cloud religion just in time to upsell servers, services and infrastructure. Larry’s favorite cloud color is currency green.