Why Salesforce.com Isn't Just For CRM Anymore

Bluewolf Survey Of Salesforce.com Users

Bluewolf is one of the leading solutions and service providers that works with Salesforce's applications. This week, on the eve of Salesforce.com's massive Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, the company released the results of its second annual survey of more than 450 customers about their use of -- and plans for -- the Salesforce software.

Eric Berridge, Bluewolf co-founder and CEO, spoke with CRN about the survey findings, the evolving use of Salesforce's software, and the opportunities for solution providers in the Salesforce market.

Of the more than 450 survey participants, 25 percent worked in IT, 18 percent were in sales, 16 percent were from operations, 15 percent were in marketing, and 11 percent were from services. Fully 86 percent of the surveyed companies were using either the enterprise or unlimited editions of Salesforce cloud software. And nearly half, 46 percent, were small businesses with 500 or fewer employees.

The Perceived Value Of Salesforce Applications

* 90 percent of survey respondents said Salesforce is more valuable to their company today than it was one year ago.

* 96 percent said they plan to maintain or increase their Salesforce budget.

* 56 percent said they see "substantial innovation potential" with Salesforce at their companies.

Customer Engagement Is The New Growth Driver

* 84 percent of survey respondents said customer engagement would overtake productivity as the primary growth driver.

* 60 percent of the survey respondents ranked customer engagement as their top priority.

Berridge: "We firmly believe that organizations can go through a process with a platform like Salesforce where they can double their revenue strictly through customer engagement initiatives, which is why we think customer engagement is the new bottom line."

The Salesforce Platform Is The Next Big Opportunity

* 60 percent of survey respondents said they are increasing their budgets for custom app development on the Salesforce platform.

* 52 percent said they have or are planning on building a custom mobile application on the Salesforce platform.

Berridge: "I think one of the things that has held CRM back for a long time is that it's been primarily regarded as an IT function. When you start to talk to CEOs and CFOs about how these platforms can drive customer retention, can decrease customer churn, can raise average prices, their ears perk up."

Why Cloud Computing Is Changing The Channel

* 73 percent of survey respondents said they are reallocating funds from on-premise IT spending to cloud-related initiatives.

Berridge: "The services that businesses need to align with -- and [solution providers] need to provide -- are less technology-focused and more change management-oriented, more business consulting-oriented.

"The trend we've seen for the last 10 years is that the cloud takes the technology complexity out of the equation. However, it hasn't done anything to take the people complexity out of it. You still have to get organizations to align, and you still have to get organizations to have consensus around exactly how they want that customer experience to unfold."

Salesforce Applications Best Practices

* 93 percent of survey respondents said they believe cloud governance is critical to accelerating innovation.

* 75 percent of companies that release monthly Salesforce updates indicated they have a dedicated cloud governance board.

* 89 percent said they provide Salesforce training for administrators and developers.

* 40 percent said they have a comprehensive adoption strategy to consult users before, during and after changes are made.

Salesforce Communities Are Hot

A little more than a year ago, Salesforce launched Salesforce Communities, which businesses use to connect employees, customers and partners in a single community.

The Bluewolf survey found that 9 percent of companies have already invested in the cloud service and another 21 percent plan to purchase Salesforce Communities licenses in the next year.

The Growing Demand For Mobile Applications

* 52 percent of survey respondents have or are planning on building custom mobile applications on the Salesforce platform.

* 63 percent are using or plan to use off-the-shelf mobile applications.

Off-the-shelf mobile applications businesses are currently installing:

* Salesforce Classic: 44 percent
* Chatter: 42 percent
* Salesforce Touch: 23 percent
* Third-party mobile applications: 30 percent

The Salesforce.com AppExchange Opportunity For Developers

AppExchange is Salesforce.com's online marketplace where business can find third-party applications that run on the Salesforce.com platform.

* 91 percent of survey respondents said they have at least one AppExchange application installed.

* 29 percent indicated they have five or more AppExchange applications installed.

What's Hot On The App Exchange

The Bluewolf survey showed that these AppExchange applications are expected to be most in demand in the future, along with the current adoption rates:

* Service agent productivity: 10 percent
* Finance: 13 percent
* Sales forecasting: 18 percent
* HR performance management: 19 percent
* Marketing/website productivity: 21 percent
* Analytics: 23 percent
* Sales document generation/management: 26 percent
* Mobile sales: 30 percent
* Data cleansing: 39 percent

Forecasting A Big Demand For Predictive Analytics

The survey found that 23 percent of respondents are already using some form of analytics application from the AppExchange, and analytics is one of the hottest application areas in the Salesforce arena.

Berridge: "If you look at a well-architected CRM system today, it has information about a customer: a customer's invoices, a customer's products, a customer's buying patterns, a customer's calls into a customer service organization. And a sales individual is supposed to be responsible for tracking all this information and making relevant decisions about what to do next. That's not going to happen.

"Organizations are embracing predictive analytics and putting models on top of this data to tell that sales rep what they should do next, to tell them where their hot leads are or to tell them where their disgruntled customers are. All of that starts to change the productivity curve in an organization."

The CRM/Salesforce Opportunity

Berridge: "Traditionally, CRM [was an] internally focused application that housed data -- that had the goal of giving employees a 360-degree view of the customer. But what we believe the new CRM to be, and what we really believe the new bottom line to be for companies, is customer engagement. That means CRM is becoming an outside-in initiative.

"The richness of the functionality that's available in the B2C world is suddenly being translated to the B2B world. And, in our opinion, Salesforce is the de facto platform to make that happen."

And for solution providers? "There is a tremendous opportunity to deliver services that help organizations become aligned with what the customer experience should be," Berridge (pictured) said. "There's a tremendous opportunity to help organizations define what innovative business processes will increase customer efficacy and customer engagement."