With the Dreamforce 2015 conference now in full swing this week, it’s clear that Salesforce is moving quickly to expand the scope and reach of its Software-as-a-Service application portfolio. Not only is Salesforce, for example, adding advanced relational intelligence software to its customer relationship management (CRM) software, but the SaaS application pioneer is making an aggressive push into the realm of the Internet of Things (IoT).
A recent survey of 1,500 Salesforce customers conducted by BlueWolf, an IT services firm that specializes in Salesforce app deployments, suggests that Salesforce is gaining some additional traction in the cloud as a result of its recent expansion efforts into marketing and customer service. The survey finds that 64 percent of Salesforce customers plan to increase their budgets in the next year, with 49 percent reporting that they are already invested in two or more Salesforce cloud offerings.
Additionally, the report notes that 22 percent of respondents have invested in three or more Salesforce clouds. Specifically, six percent of the companies surveyed have adopted Salesforce Analytics Cloud, with 14 percent planning to invest in this offering in the coming year.
Sharing customer records across SaaS applications
At the core of the Salesforce strategy is the assumption that customer records are the center of the business universe. Via a set of well-defined open APIs, Salesforce is integrating its own applications across a common set of customer records, and it has also invited third-party vendors such as FinancialForce.com to create ERP applications that tap into those same records. The end result is a better user experience when all the SaaS applications being used are able to share data using the same records instead of trying to integrate those applications using middleware that resides on premise or in the cloud.
That doesn’t mean Salesforce applications won’t need to be integrated with other applications. As the Salesforce ecosystem continues to grow, many IT service providers need to determine just how long the Salesforce coattails they are considering riding will actually be. For example, the Bluewolf study notes that while roughly 20 percent of the respondents are investing in Salesforce Analytics, a full 68 percent said they would be increasing their investment in analytics in the coming year. That would suggest that roughly half are considering an analytics platform other than Salesforce Analytics Cloud.
The Salesforce opportunity for IT service providers
Nevertheless, the financial results that Salesforce has been posting are steadily improving. Even though Salesforce has been pushing the adoption of SaaS applications for more than a decade, the marketing expenses associated with that push continue to force the company to operate in the red. Obviously, a significant expansion into adjacent application categories using the same basic cloud platform should go a long way toward improving those financial results, assuming Salesforce can continue to fend off Oracle and SAP cloud competitors that are much more aggressive now.
In the meantime, IT service providers should take note of the rapidly expanding Salesforce empire in the cloud, especially when it comes to business consulting opportunities. While there is clearly more interest in moving applications into the cloud than ever, it doesn’t necessarily mean that most organizations really know what to do with them or how to manage them once they get there.