SAN FRANCISCO--In a world where everything and everyone generate data and customer needs change rapidly, Salesforce.com's bet on social and mobile appears to be paying off, analysts observe.
As a precursor to this year's Dreamforce 2011 conference which officially kicks off here on Wednesday, Daniel Zoe-Jimenez, program manager of enterprise applications and business analytics at IDC Asia-Pacific, told ZDNet Asia that in terms of providing companies with the tools for collaboration, the software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendor has played its cards well with additions to its infrastructure and mobile offerings.
Among the products launched last December, Zoe-Jimenez highlighted that the vendor's mobile applications--Salesforce Mobile and Chatter Mobile--as well as cloud database system, Database.com, and acquisition of open source development platform, Heroku, as vital to advancing its Cloud 2 vision.
"IDC believes that mobility is a key enabler of Salesforce.com's Cloud 2 vision," the analyst said. "The reason behind this is that true collaboration is linked to providing individuals and organizations with connectivity, anywhere and anytime."
Last year, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff described the Web evolution from Cloud 1 to Cloud 2, saying that tabs had become feeds, information had moved from being pulled to pushed, users no longer "click" but "touch" screens to access information, and desktops had given way to smartphones and tablets. He added that user profiles had evolved from being location-unknown to location-aware, developer focus had shifted from Windows and Mac platforms to Android, iOS and HTML 5, and apps had moved from being self-integrated to the marketplace.
Channeling social insights
Zoe-Jimenez also pointed to the SaaS vendor's understanding of the "social media opportunity" as another differentiator. He noted that in a time where everything and everyone become "data generators" and customer needs change rapidly, the integration of social media tools with enterprise applications can help organizations capture, understand and manage data, improving efficiency and collaboration by breaking down silos and organizational boundaries.
As such, the company's introduction of Chatter had helped launch the company into the emerging social software market and establish a toehold in traditional enterprise IT, the IDC analyst noted. "Chatter uptake has been very positive and IDC believes Salesforce.com sees Chatter as an important strategy for the company to increase its overall application utilization rates as well as to expand product usage into other department beyond sales and marketing," he added.
Furthermore, its acquisition of Radian6 in March this year will help Salesforce.com bring real customer insight into the enterprise environment, where the data can be leveraged meaningfully, he said. Elaborating, the analyst said the move shows that the integration of social media and enterprise applications--specifically, customer relationship management (CRM)--will become increasingly important in the coming years.
Michael Barnes, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, concurred. He ethat by introducing social CRM functionalities such as enhanced communication and collaboration in its applications, Salesforce.com is attempting to "both broaden and deepen" its presence among customers. Additionally, its Force.com platform provides an avenue for third-party developers to create cloud-based applications, Barnes noted in his e-mail.
Thus, by positioning Salesforce products as the primary platform or application that employees and developers use to do their jobs, and cutting the price for Chatter, the company has further established its leadership position in Asia-Pacific's SaaS CRM market, he surmised.
Zoe-Jimenez also pointed out that overall performance for the company since it announced its social and mobile intentions has been "positive". In the second quarter results released by Salesforce.com on Aug. 19, the company posted a 38 percent year-on-year growth totaling US$546 million. For Asia-Pacific, including Japan, the growth was 33 percent totaling US$77 million, he noted.
Expect the unexpected
Asked how he sees the company further building on its vision during this year's Dreamforce conference, Zoe-Jimenez said he expects new developments and products around social media, as well as more private social network projects to be announced.
Salesforce.com in May said it would be building a private social network for Japanese automobile company Toyota, called Toyota Friend, based on its Chatter platform, according to a report by ZDNet Asia's U.S. counterpart, ZDNet.
Additionally, Zoe-Jimenez pointed out that "social" need not be about people anymore but can also include things such as machine-to-machine communications and social-aware products. "Sometimes, you have to expect the unexpected," he stated.
Kevin Kwang of ZDNet Asia reported from Salesforce.com's Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, USA.