For years, Salesforce has converted software users and captivated conference participants with glitz and glamour (Hillary Clinton and Will.i.am., anyone?) while maintaining its hold on the top position in the CRM market. And with recently released details on a smattering of upcoming changes that have the software industry abuzz, we’re convinced the cloud giant is positioning itself to take over the software world.
Just bear with us for a minute. Because in all honesty, one need only take a look at Salesforce’s progress within the past year to see what we mean. At last year’s Dreamforce, the leading CRM provider announced its foray into a completely new domain — business intelligence — with Wave Analytics, and preceded the event with its consumer-friendly Community Cloud (a community forum of sorts where businesses can connect with their customers).
And in the lead-up to Dreamforce 2015, tech blogs have been salivating over details of the vendor’s expansion into industry verticals and other noteworthy news — all of which suggests Salesforce is serious about broadening its reach.
Although the company first stole the spotlight with its cloud-based CRM platform, a slew of recent and upcoming changes to the Salesforce product lineup promise to shake up the software world.
While current offerings span the spectrum of sales and marketing tools to customer support and application development, the latest news indicates expansion into as-of-yet untapped domains — including verticals that have proved difficult for other tech heavyweights to master.
Let’s take a look at the company’s latest expeditions into previously uncharted territory.
The leader of cloud CRM is launching an invasion on an industry that even Google couldn’t best: healthcare. Salesforce will soon offer a platform for hospitals and medical practices that looks to overhaul the doctor-patient relationship, designed around the same core functions as its CRM solution.
Salesforce Health Cloud takes a novel approach to healthcare services in comparison to platforms offered by leading vendors in the space such as GE Healthcare, Cerner and McKesson — aiming to shift the focus from back-end organization to interactions between patients and healthcare professionals.
Why It Matters: Many big-name vendors have tried and, for the most part, failed at providing user-friendly, easy-to-implement healthcare software. If Salesforce can outmaneuver its competitors the same way it did with CRM, the company would mark itself as one to watch across the board.
Like any public figure or brand, even the leading CRM platform can use a facelift every now and then. After all, a full 16 years have gone by since the company first launched its sales software, and both technology and stylistic elements have changed quite a bit in that time.
The updated design, dubbed Lightning Experience, replaces a clunky dashboard format with simple visuals, an activity feed and a clean navigational menu. Also appealing to many Salesforce customers will be the increased ease of customizability that enables users to tailor the interface to their specific role and business needs.
Why It Matters: According to Forbes, Salesforce has pushed out a total of 147 updates for its sales software, and yet none have offered a comprehensive overhaul of the layout and design aesthetic in the way that Lightning promises. And considering the company’s current status in the CRM arena, one can only imagine how far forward a design revamp will propel the Sales Cloud.
As if undertaking one additional vertical isn’t enough, Salesforce is also jumping into the world of financial software with a solution to reform how financial advisors communicate with clients. The new financial platform appears designed to disrupt the financial sector in much the same way the Health Cloud could within the healthcare market, with an assortment of tools designed to improve the customer’s accessibility to their advisor (or doctor).
The Financial Services Cloud will provide a complete picture of a client’s financial details and incorporate in-depth tools for collaboration on items such as budgeting, financial goals and desired investments. In typical Salesforce fashion, the platform will also include comprehensive data aggregation and automated administrative responsibilities.
Why It Matters: If Salesforce is able to successfully infiltrate two traditionally stagnant verticals simultaneously, the vendor would be setting itself up as one capable of breathing new life into software segments lagging in innovation. Also noteworthy is that the foundation for both the Financial and Health Clouds stems from the vendor’s already popular sales platform, without requiring a completely new product to be built from the ground up.
Consumers are eager to shop online — even more so when the process is ridiculously easy, as social platforms like Facebook and Twitter have identified with the recent implementation of one-click buying. And Salesforce has taken note, deciding to add “buy” buttons directly within its Community Cloud in an attempt to monetize the minimal revenue-yielding forum format.
The company is partnering with ecommerce power players Bigcommerce, Demandware and CloudCraze to allow Salesforce users (who must also be a user of one of the partnering ecommerce vendors) to easily integrate a product purchase option directly into their community.
Why It Matters: Community forums have for years been a business component devoid of much (or any) financial gain on the part of the forum host and participating parties. If it works, this collaboration would reiterate Salesforce’s ability to upend an industry with a relatively simple yet revolutionary tweak.
Between Salesforce’s recent projected Q2 revenue of 22 to 23 percent and the additions outlined above, it’s pretty obvious that the company has its gaze set on the long term. In fact, this month’s round of pre-conference announcements confirms to us that Salesforce is positioning itself to become the next-generation Oracle- or SAP-sized software power.
And as Dreamforce ‘15 rolls into town tomorrow (along with close to 150,000 participants, unbearable street congestion and a ‘Dream Boat’) we have little doubt that CEO Marc Benioff will proudly showcase the company’s bundle of new ventures as he showers event-goers with the star treatment — proving once again that Salesforce is at the top of its game, ready to conquer the world.
Be sure to visit the Business-Software.com blog for more of our Dreamforce coverage — both past and present!
[Background photo courtesy of Flickr user Mike Mertz.]