One of the most interesting vendors to cover is undoubtedly Salesforce. Siebel was the early originator of CRM, but Salesforce has redefined the category as well as make it viable, and it seems like Salesforce is just getting started.
Salesforce is a deceptively large company. With easy to sign up and use service, relatively transparent pricing and application trials, it’s easy to forget Salesforce is one of the larger enterprise software vendors, and with 10,000 employees and with their rate of growth, while already big they are destined to become one of the giants in the enterprise software space.
Salesforce has performed several acquisitions, but unlike most other software vendors that we have tracked, these acquisitions have been strategic rather than just buying customers or covering up for innovation deficiencies. Some of the acquisitions, such as the functionality that is currently referred to as Chatter (from GroupSwim in 2009) are critical components to Salesforce today.
Salesforce has developed experience in managing one of the most significant enterprise software cloud applications in the world as measured by both the numbers of users who log in per day and the degree of usage.
Quality of Information Provided
The quality of sales information provided by Salesforce has declined in the past few years. The company’s sales vision is getting ahead of its ability to execute as many within Salesforce see the salespeople having too much control over the company’s direction. Salesforce has always had that problem (CEO Marc Benioff, is, of course, ex-Oracle), but is now more pronounced as more ex-Oracle salespeople have been hired, and the Oracle Sales Model has been increasingly adopted. We have access to how salespeople at Salesforce are trained and compensated, and it is a perfect model for the dissemination of false information.
Consulting and Support
We rate Salesforce as above average in consulting as below average in support. Salesforce has the benefit of having few of its implementations performed by the major consulting companies. Salesforce implements too quickly, and no major consulting company could make enough money from them to “recommend” them as a solution.
Salesforce is rapidly calcifying, and this is why we have assigned it a Current Innovation Level several points lower than it historical innovation level – necessarily Salesforce is going through its innovation lifecycle faster than most other companies due to its growth. Also, the success of Salesforce has lead to Harvard MBA Syndrome (HBS). Salesforce today, has significantly weaker management than the Salesforce of 5 years ago with more Oracle Sales Model influence (forcing short-term decision making) with fewer technologists. Due to all of this, Salesforce’s internal efficiency now only moderate. As is usually the case when a large number of ex-Oracle employees move to a new software vendor, the amount of politics, backbiting and tedious sales meetings has drastically increased leaving many of the earlier Salesforce employees feeling disenfranchised. For years, Salesforce marketed itself as the anti-Oracle, the “cuddly” enterprise software company that was going to break the rules, and now they are changing into Oracle.
Salesforce is an innovative company in application platform development, which is in part masquerading as an innovative company in applications. We have tested multiple Salesforce applications and have not been impressed by any of them. However, their Force.com and the AppExchange is undoubtedly innovative.
When one looks at Salesforce from the outside, there seems to be a bright future, but when looking at Salesforce from the inside, it shows all the signs of a company whose best days are already behind it. At least from an innovation perspective, while their revenue should thrive for some time.
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