So my l last post discussed the progression of salesforce.com through combinations of several technology trinities. Let’s imagine what Marc Benioff will say at next year’s DreamForce when it comes to the expanding application product line of salesforce.com. Herewith is what I think his Day 2 keynote will contain:
“FANTASTIC – that’s how’d I describe the parties, the enthusiasm and discussions yesterday. I really hope you got to listen to the concert we had out front – especially when The Who played “Won’t get fooled again”. I asked my good friend Roger Daltry to play that number for all the Oracle customers at the event.
I’d like to kick today off with a peek into our application strategy. Yesterday, we covered a lot of ground when we spoke of the technology trinities guiding our overall product and market strategy. But, today, I want us all to see how and what we and our partners are developing with regard to applications.
I see salesforce.com as the incubation engine of thousands of new application software companies in virtually every functional area in every vertical. We’ll help existing and all-new companies create the future of application software, and, in the process, help them possibly overtake the SAP’s and Oracle’s of the world. We’ll provide them the fastest development environment, biggest commercial Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), an online database and connections to our amazing VMforce environment. These tools, the same tools we make available to all of our customers, are becoming THE industry standard in the application software space.
Since our inception, we’ve provided technical assistance to a number of firms to help them build new applications on the force.com platform. That’s not changing.
We’ve also made some strategic investments in some of these firms, too. Those capital infusions sped up their time to market and helped put them on the map. We’ve done that with FinancialForce.com, Kenandy and others. That’s not changing either.
Sometimes, we even grew to like the company, its products and its team so much, we bought them. We did that with Radian6, Heroku and others. That’s not going change because I’d rather see us acquire our partners rather than take their ideas and leave them high and dry.
But, we now have the market size and resources to do more. Let me share a new development with you now.
For the last couple of years, we’ve been hard at work on a program called “Oyster”. Oyster was a carefully chosen name. When a grain of sand finds its way into an oyster, a beautiful pearl can be formed in a few years. We see
salesforce.com providing these grains of sand to dozens, no – hundreds, of software developers globally.
Our grain of sand, if you will, can be anything from a full-application, like our flagship CRM solution, to an all-new application, like last year’s announced work.com, to a stated intent to develop a new application or vertical niche.
For example, just look at how our efforts have led to the most powerful sales force automation and customer relationship ecosystem on the planet. Our little grain of sand, Salesforce CRM, has attracted players like Eloqua, Pardot, Marketo and hundreds of other firms to make the richest, most powerful über-suite in the space.
Already, we’re seeing a host of firms flocking around our work.com product. They want to bring training course content, payroll processing, recruiting capabilities and more to this space. AND, we will help them do so. Within another year, I predict we’ll have the world’s greatest and most complete HR suite of products – period. We'll build it with partnerships, like our partnership with Workday.
Last year, we announced our intent to build out the marketing solution space. And now we have an amazing number of new partners and products targeting that space with solutions that work, 100%, on the force.com platform and with all of your salesforce.com products.
Oyster will be the way we create energy, intellectual property, software, products and content around every part of your business. Salesforce.com will create a piece of the solution while partners will use our tools, our platform and our AppExchange to develop and deploy a new generation of solutions with speed and quality. It will be unmatched in the industry. We will provide the spark – the catalyst – that triggers the network effect.
If you’re still waiting for your software vendor to make good on their promises from 2005, it’s time to reconsider. We would never think of ‘stalling’ as a strategy. Even if we can’t make every enterprise application in every vertical for every part of the world, we will get the best and brightest partners who will. And, we’ll make sure it all interoperates, seamlessly for you for all time.
The salesforce.com difference is clear: we don’t have to control your entire technology stack. We don’t have to build it all and we don’t think it’s reasonable or realistic for any software vendor to think they can. We want to build the richest software ecosystem populated with the best applications in the world. We remain the catalyst for innovation in this industry. Others choose to be the impeders of innovation. The choice is clearer than ever now.
So, let’s have a little fun this morning. I’d like you to use Chatter and tell us where we need to place a little sand and create the next crop of oysters. We’ll take our cues from you as to where the ecosystem needs to expand next. So, go to…..”
I’m back. I can only write the way that Marc talks for so long. Let me pick up here and point out the following:
- Innovation can be collaborative – I’m pretty sure Marc gets this as salesforce.com seems to live this daily. I think the way they treat their partners is key especially as it relates to partners that build technology that other firms would expropriate while saleforce.com simply buys outright.
- Customers want something different (and they’re looking) – Traditionally, the industry is all about control: account control, control of the tech stack, etc. Vendors have been building fixed fortifications around their install base for decades. Yet, a look at the DreamForce attendees shows that those within these fortresses are out there actively shopping for something new. Field artillery pretty much put an end to fixed fortifications. Maybe the ERP oligopoly is about to seem as pointless as an old stone castle.
-The oyster/pearl metaphor is uncommon in software – Partnering for the long-term is one of the most unnatural acts in software. Partners, traditionally, use each other in the short-term only to double-deal the other when the moment suits them. Scorpions sting, mosquitoes bite and software vendors are the least trustworthy partners in business. It’s been the nature of the beast. But, the oyster/pearl approach is different in that salesforce.com doesn’t have to build huge application suites or huge products. I’d bet that salesforce.com would be delighted to spend as little as possible with these ‘sand’ applications and stay focused on creating the biggest, baddest application ecosystem out there. Salesforce wins when businesses run transactions on/through their environment. They win when people use their tools, servers, databases, partners’ systems, etc. They don’t need the costs and headaches associated with developing and supporting applications when infrastructure and tools are much more straightforward and less costly to support.
- Analysts/Reporters don’t get this – Lots of people covering DreamForce 2012 wrote of all of the new apps announced by Salesforce. They wrote that some were too skeletal in their content. Some were only announcements. And, at this, they questioned Salesforce as being a company long on announcements and short on product capability. I think these folks got it all wrong. Since 2005, I’ve seen Salesforce put the development of its platform at the top of its priorities. It isn’t an applications firm and hasn’t been for at least 7 years. Yes, it has some apps but these are in furtherance of its bigger vision. Too bad, other vendors don’t get this, too.
- Understand the ‘whole product’ concept – Geoffrey Moore described (years ago) what makes some technology take off and others fall flat. A major reason for this is that some firms only create a piece of the solution. Would iPod technology have taken off if there weren’t the iTunes store that had a vast amount of recorded music on it for cheap? Apple thought of everything and took all the friction out of owning an iPod. Think of salesforce.com as a company bent on taking the friction, headaches, time, etc. out of the software application business.
Well, I’ve had my fun writing Marc’s speeches for next year. Now, it’s time to focus on the great Larry E. and the events at Oracle Open World. And, no, I’m not going to write Larry’s 2013 talks. I’ll leave that to another of the Enterprise Irregular chaps if they’d like the honor.