By: Clive Longbottom, Head of Research, Quocirca
Published: 20th November 2009
Copyright Quocirca © 2009
So, salesforce.com's yearly fest of force-feeding the loyal—Dreamforce 09—has come to an end. What can we take away from what was talked about, shown and supported by the many brought on stage to do obeisance?
Well, the first thing is that Marc Benioff is still Marc Benioff. No shrinking violet he, and he played his part as the ringmaster for everything happening in the main tent sessions. His enthusiasm and fervour for the salesforce.com ethos still shines through.
Next is the feeling that validation for salesforce.com is present across the market—in a far more certain way than it has been in the past. Sure, salesforce.com has done a sterling job in building from a startup to today's Big Brand, but it's more than that. Certainly, passing the $1bn revenues level and having 70,000 customers is doing salesforce.com no harm, and having somewhere in the region of 17,000 attendees to the event spoke volumes in today's cost/travel climate.
But there are other things in the air that Dreamforce seemed to solidify.
On the second day, Benioff had a raft of people on stage with him—some small customers, some small vendors. All meat and drink for a event such as this. But not many can suddenly wheel in John Swainson, CEO of CA, and Bob Beauchamp, CEO of BMC, as tasty morsels, stating that they have created specific versions of some of their portfolio to run on the salesforce.com platform.
Salesforce.com is now seen as a trusted partner, as a means to get to new revenue streams, and as something that has to be paid attention to.
Certainly, the growing interest in the cloud means salesforce.com is right in the sweet spot at the moment. But is there more to it? Is it just that salesforce.com is the most recognisable cloud play in the market at the moment? Do all these other vendors suddenly riding the coat tails believe that having cracked running on AppExchange, they'll be able to port directly to other clouds, such as Amazon's EC2 or Microsoft's Azure? Surely not, as the platforms are all different.
So, it looks like saleforce.com is doing a lot of stuff well. The latest versions of the "standard" platforms are looking good, and new functionality means that less and less core functionality is required to be sourced outside of these platforms. Any synergistic or ancillary functions can either be found on AppExchange or can be relatively easily created there, using an Eclipse-based IDE, meaning that little in the way of new skills will be required.
The big news from Dreamforce was the new offering—Chatter. A stream aggregation approach, Chatter will bring together discussions and events in one single stream, nominally to provide a single environment where everything is happening so that the user doesn't have to search in different silos for such things.
Sounds good—but this single stream can very easily get out of control if policies and procedures are not put in place beforehand. With many exchanges between people now being based on short messages, standard tagging and content inspection/filtering techniques are difficult to apply—there is just too little content to find any true context.
Here, salesforce.com will have to use its strengths in having a single image of its software, and see how people use Chatter, and from that build up some good and best practice models. These will then need to be promoted to the customer base, both directly and through the channel, so that Chatter doesn't crush itself to death through trying to be all things to all people.
On a slightly different note, Google chose the same time to demonstrate its Chrome OS to a waiting world—an ultra-light operating system that is there to get a browser (Chrome, unsurprisingly) up and running as fast as possible. All applications that can be run in Chrome will need to be certified by Google before there is any capability to run them. salesforce.com needs to ensure that its core platforms are validated as soon as possible—if for no other reason than for good marketing. The issue will then be how to get Google to rapidly validate all AppExchange applications as well.
But, overall, the feeling was that salesforce.com is not exactly struggling—growth is strong, progress is swift. Customers are happy, other technology vendors are cosying up. A strong road map is there, and things are looking decidedly rosy for salesforce.com as a company and as a platform for community, commercial and independent providers of functionality.
As a Dreamforce, there was little to give anyone nightmares. The clouds are still light and fluffy, and any sign of a storm is still just distant barely audible rumblings.
Posted: 1st December 2009 | By Gerry :
Great post, Clive
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