In my earlier blog, I wrote about the five key takeaways from Salesforce’s biggest event of the year, Dreamforce’18. Now that the curtains have fallen, what is next for Salesforce? In this blog, I predict two key areas that Salesforce and its partners will (have to) focus on over the next one year to drive greater adoption and market share. Here goes!
Dreamforce did have Industry showcases specific to Retail, Education, Manufacturing and so on. But what I wanted to know more from these showcases was what these key initiatives meant for that Industry. For instance,
- How would Customer 360 play for a Discrete Manufacturer or a funded Encumbered Educational institution?
- How would Mulesoft and/or Integration Cloud aid the customer experience for specific workflows and contexts within each industry?
- What are the key domain specific wrapper solutions that a SF Customer could leverage to maximize his ROI on SF Investments?
The exhibitions also highlighted the technical ecosystem and the advances made in it through AI/ ML/ Analytics/ Integration and so on. These did convey a huge possibility of value addition but did not specifically contextualize it for each domain and/or industry. So what can Salesforce and its partners do?
What it all means for Customers and Partners of Salesforce
In the coming year, I do see Salesforce investing heavily on the domain side and the business workflow side in terms of their Industry clouds. Partners too would have to pick this language and contextualize value for customers at large.
Data Orchestration is still pretty much the foundation!
Over the many interactions I had with several CXOs at DF’18, I could sense that they are now focusing lesser and lesser on ensuring tactical successes within their internal teams, and focused more on strategizing more about how to grow revenues and build efficiencies by leveraging technology. To help them move away from this “Firefighting” mindset to a more strategic mindset, they do see data consolidation and data analytics as a key priority item on their wish-list.
Whether the context is an M&A Situation, a major Digital Transformation project, or for that matter any Organization-wide Change management initiative – the major challenge and top priority for a CIO/ CDO is to consolidate data across the disparate and relevant data sources, work out actionable insights from this consolidation and dashboard it into the host applications for the relevant stakeholders to make informed and timely decisions. Whether it’s Integration Cloud of SF, or Integration with Google, Amazon, Apple, etc. and the subsequent Analytics possibilities through Einstein, the key still is this critical piece of data orchestration.
Want to know how CIO/CDOs can balance their tactical priorities and their strategic aspirations without losing sight of stakeholder value addition?
Salesforce Eating its own pie!
Customer Point of View:
With the acquisition of Mulesoft and other initiatives from Salesforce to enhance its footprint within this connected ecosystem, many customers whom I talked to did express a risk of hold up from Salesforce in terms of their key platform investment decisions. With many solutions like Customer 360 intrinsically embedding SF Products like Einstein, the customers do see that as a challenge when it comes to them opting for a competitive analytics or other such products/ tools, especially when they see few obvious comparative advantages for them given their connectedness with other platforms like ERP, HCM, etc. Cost also is a concern as this ecosystem – despite the advantages it offers – is quite an expensive suite and customers do express a concern on flexibility to choose other optimum cost options which may not be as embedded and connected with the SF Ecosystem.
Partner point of view:
Many partners, especially the ISVs have expressed concern that with the ever increasing footprint of SF, it might overlap many of their existing products/ solutions and offer it to the end customers as an embedded offering. This surely has happened in the past and will continue to happen in the future too, as is the case with many platform ecosystems. However, it will be very interesting to see how SF manages to maintain a balance between the incremental innovations added by its valued partners and embedded value offering from SF offered by it to its customers.
My 2 cents:
I can confidently say that SF would not deviate from their focus on:
- CX (Sales, Marketing, Services – They themselves see Community as a lateral offering)
- Fortune 500 (Embedded Solutions and Connected Ecosystem that the top few companies can afford)
This surely leaves a lot of space for value added partners (SI & ISV) to build niche capabilities around the Domain front and the Integration front (Integrating with allied CRM/ CMS/ Marketing Automation/ ERP Platforms) to help customers derive a similar benefit of a connected ecosystem within the bounds of the platform investments they would have made specific to their company.
TO SUM UP
Overall, it was a fantastic event with loads of insights leading to host of possibilities! Clearly SF is able to differentiate itself from many other platform ecosystems given its niche focus around CX and thereby has also managed to create a huge thriving community of contributors and advocates who can vouch for their success. What would be interesting to observe is how SF now manages to strike a balance between its individual roadmap on connected ecosystem and the partner aspiration on adding incremental innovations to the community at large!