Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Salesforce graphic.pngSalesforce is the digital hub for many businesses. But what impact does this cloud-computing platform have on those companies? A new edition of the annual report on the subject from global business consulting firm Bluewolf tries to answer that question.

"The State of Salesforce shows Salesforce continues to be an essential tool in many firms. An impressive 90 percent of respondents to Bluewolf’s survey rate it  “more valuable to their company today than it was a year ago.” Nearly 70 percent expect to increase their Salesforce budgets and 56 percent see potential for substantial innovation by using Salesforce.

Key Areas of Focus, Investment

Before we go on, it is important to note that Salesforce is a Bluewolf partner. Salesforce is a company that "provides solutions that we think offer compelling answers to common challenges," according to Bluewolf's website. 

But let's put aside that potential bias and dig deeper into the report. It notes that companies that get the most from the platform have “focus and investment” in four areas: Customer engagement, platform innovation, cloud governance and people.

Customer engagement, which has become a major buzz phrase among digital businesses, is set to overtake productivity as the key driver of growth, according to 84 percent of those surveyed.  Salesforce, with its roots in customer relationship management (CRM), is a key tool in that effort.

“One department is no longer responsible for serving the customer,” the report noted. Rather, there needs to be integration between accounting, enterprise resource planning (ERP), CRM, marketing, social channels, customer service and so on.

Similarly, a customer-focused orientation throughout a company is usually considered a key aspect of the transformation to a digital business. Salesforce, the report stated, “is becoming the platform on which to engage customers, at every stage in the customer lifecycle, for a unified customer experience” with integration between social listening, marketing automation and case management tools.

Platform, Cloud Governance, People

Thumbnail image for Customer engagement.pngThe Salesforce platform is leading 60 percent of respondents to increase budgets for custom app development, including more than half that have or are planning to build a custom mobile app. Salesforce is also a key driver of the trend to move budgets from on-premises efforts to cloud-based ones, according to nearly three-quarters of respondents, 

Cloud governance, which includes processes and policies for cloud-based computing, is critical to the acceleration of innovation for an overwhelming 93 percent. And nearly 90 percent use Salesforce-based training within the enterprise, primarily administrators and developers.

The report suggests Salesforce’s own evolution mirrors or may even be driving the evolution of many of its client companies. While it began with a focus on CRM, Salesforce has now turned into what Bluewolf describes as an “enterprise-wide customer management platform.” In fact, this year, Salesforce began calling itself the "Customer Company."

Other Platforms

Other ways companies are using Salesforce include having or planning custom mobile apps that use the platform for real-time customer information, such as an integrated iPad app that Bluewolf built for pharmaceutical GlaxoSmithKline customers. Additionally, nearly half of Salesforce customers are investing in Marketing Cloud, which now includes features from such Salesforce acquisitions as Radian 6 and ExactTarget.

This detailed report is based on data collected and analyzed in collaboration with MIT’s Sloan School of Management. While Salesforce is a huge player, comparable integrated platforms from the likes of IBM, Microsoft, SAP and Adobe  are also in use in many enterprises, as are a wide variety of point and multipoint solutions from smaller vendors. A useful successor to this report might address the same kinds of questions at companies using those platforms.