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Salesforce News & Analysis

How Salesforce Builds Its Ecosystem, 1 Company at a Time

John Somorjai was the corporate counsel at Oracle 18 years ago when an opening popped up in the corporate development group. He's never looked back.

Starting as a manager, he found he had a knack for spotting good companies and cutting deals. Within 18 months, he was named the group's senior director.

For the past decade, he's been at Salesforce.com, where he's now executive vice president for corporate development and Salesforce Ventures, the company's investment arm. Salesforce Ventures has invested in more than 100 enterprise cloud companies since its inception in 2009, including Box, DocuSign, Dropbox, Evernote, Gainsight, Apttus, HubSpot and recently, SteelBrick.

"We have a great advantage of being on the corporate side. You really understand the trends of the independent software vendors (ISVs) and system integrator (SI) partners who are building an ecosystem," Somorjai told CMSWire yesterday.

We asked him to share some of the strategy about the company's investments and to peek into the future of the marketing technology vendors out there today. 

Docurated Content Cloud Brings Sales, Marketing Together

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The discord between sales and marketing is alive and well, but a new solution is trying to put the two on the same page through relevant content. The right content can be the difference between making or breaking a sale. And while a number of technologies can deliver using manual input, Docurated released a solution this week which it claims can do so automatically.

According to Alex Gorbanksy, CEO of Docurated, Content Cloud sits in Salesforce and uses content input from existing repositories to automatically offer sales people -- even those who are mobile -- the right content to close the best deals.

Why Salesforce Analytics Cloud May Be a Big Deal

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One of the big myths around business analytics, at this point in time, is that it's democratized. That the average business user can grab a dataset, ask questions around it, and glean the insights needed to take informed action on the spur of the moment, regardless of where they are and what kind of screen they‘re staring at.

The next time someone tells you this, say “show me.” Odds are that you’ll discover that when they say “average,” it doesn’t include most of us. And that “democratized” refers to a wider variety of data workers, meaning that they don’t necessarily have to be data scientists, statistical whizzes or know how to work with R, but it’s a pretty good bet that terms like “data profiling,” "data modeling” and Analytics will show up on their resumes more often than “exceeded quota.” 

Neuralytix Finds Users Split on Salesforce Analytics Cloud

Analytics is one of the biggest buzzwords in the business world today — the cornerstone of corporate insights and actions.

Bernard Marr, a United Kingdom-based authority on analytics, said, "Advances in information technology and a complete datafication of our world now mean we have (or will have very soon) data and insights on everything." In fact, he boasted, analytics has the power to transform any industry, including business, sports, healthcare and government. So how broad is industry adoption?

Neuralytix, an IT market research and consulting firm based in Mountain View, Calif., recently surveyed members of the Salesforce Power Users Group about their projected use of one anaytics platform to find out. When asked about their projected use of the Salesforce Analytics Cloud in the next 12 months, 55 percent of those surveyed said they had no plans to use it.

But 42.5 percent said they were planning to start and about 3 percent of users said they were already using it.

Salesforce Makes Another Bet on E-Commerce

Hoping to extend its presence in e-commerce, Salesforce has invested millions of dollars in SteelBrick — the cloud software giant's second bet on the fast-growing Configure Price Quote (CPQ) market this week.

SteelBrick said today San Francisco-based Salesforce joined its $18 million Series B funding round, which was led by Shasta VenturesEmergence Capital and company managers also participated in the round.

SteelBrick CEO Godard Abel told CMSWire the investment shows that Salesforce is moving beyond its traditional customer relationship management (CRM) functions.

Salesforce Arms Apttus with $41M

When it comes to venture investments, Salesforce backs its allies. Case in point: The San Francisco-based cloud software company today led a $41 million investment round for Apttus, which makes Quote-to-Cash software on the Salesforce1 platform.

The latest investment followed first-round funding of $37 million in September 2013 that Salesforce led. K1 Capital and Iconiq Capital also invested in both rounds.

The Salesforce Wave Rolls Past Its First 100 Days

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When Salesforce announced its Wave analytics platform with a splash at Dreamforce, it wasn't even available. Critics said it cost too much or that even after two years of development, it was too little too late.

Some analysts, like Boris Evelson at Forrester Research, praised it for its "seamless integration" and agile NoSQL DBMS. "But," he added in his blog, "while we feel that Wave is a cool product for specific use cases ... there's lot of room for improvement before Wave can take its place among general purpose large enterprise BI platforms."

"The UI is there, but can it really leverage big data? Does it matter?," asked CMSWire writer Virginia Backaitis. She quoted several industry sources who offered mixed reviews.

Put the Tech Back into Tech Shows

CMSWire Op-Ed

It was sometime after Neil Young, Ariana Huffington and Al Gore had finished their bits on the Dreamforce stage. The speaker now was Eckhart Tolle, the most spiritually influential person in the world. But I wasn't feeling it.

I surfaced from the windowless basement of the Moscone Convention Center and found a cool gray October morning had turned into a warm, sunny afternoon. Hundreds of conference attendees lounged around an artificial-turf park on top of San Francisco's Howard Street. I watched two techies play ping-pong as Tolle's voice boomed from a nearby jumbotron.

That's when it hit me: In the world of big tech shows, the "show" now overshadows the "tech."

Salesforce Offers a Peek at the State of Marketing

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It's a big world of marketing technology, as we reported earlier this week.

It's an even bigger world of people that marketers are trying to connect with through those technologies. The more marketers know about those people and where they get information, the better.

"Everybody is dealing with the rapid evolution of marketing," said Jeff Rohrs, vice president of marketing insights at Salesforce, which this week released the Salesforce Marketing Cloud 2015 State of Marketing Report, its annual flagship research report based on data from more than 5,000 global marketers. "... The good news is we've never had more ways to connect with consumers. The bad news is we've never had more ways to connect with consumers."

Salesforce Connects to SharePoint with Universal File Sharing

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After more than a year in development — and the inking of a strategic partnership between two companies that never had a lot of nice things to say to each other before last May — Salesforce.com announced the release of Salesforce Files Connect.

The new centralized, universal file-sharing solution offers access to SharePoint Online and SharePoint 2010 and 2013. It will add access to OneDrive for Business in February before moving on to connect with other services.

Wizeline Partners with Salesforce to Deliver Intelligent Product Data

The two-second product pitch for the year-old Wizeline data intelligence platform would be "a new way of thinking about product development."

That's how Adam Sewall, director of marketing and partnerships at the San Francisco-based tech company, sees it.

To boost its data-driven approach to enhancing products, Wizeline yesterday became part of the Salesforce Partner Program and announced the availability of its new Product Tracker application on the Salesforce AppExchange.

When Marketing Automation Meets Salesforce #Gilbane

The Boston-based WGBH Education Foundation relies on donations. It's a public media entity.

So it also relies on technology to manage donations. Salesforce CRM. Marketing automation tools.

Cate Twohill, senior director and managing partner of CRM services at the WGBH Education Foundation, has her hands on the pulse of the organization's digital network and management of its donors. It's a job that comes with challenges. It recently uncovered and corrected more than 80,000 duplicate donor profiles and must manage donor relationships in a way that powers engagement.

Salesforce Social Studio Targets Organizational Silos

Salesforce unveiled its Social Studio marketing platform inside its ExactTarget Marketing Cloud in May, which brought together $3.4 billion worth of acquisitions in a platform for social content marketing, engagement, publishing and analytics.

The platform gets a boost this month as the San Francisco CRM giant released enhancements to its Social Studio that include the ability to deliver messages to customers across the Salesforce Sales Cloud, Service Cloud and Marketing Cloud from one platform.

What's Trending in Digital Analytics

2014-17-November-Blackboard-Analysis.jpgDuring a walk up Camelback Mountain in Phoenix one recent morning with my colleague Joe Kamenar, Steve Harris, senior director web analytics, web digital group at Capital One and David Millrod, founder of visualization platform Insight Rocket, we talked about data integration. We talked about analytics staffing. We talked about multichannel attribution models. We talked about “huddles.” Huddles? These practitioner-led discussion groups are the heart of XChange, the digital analytics conference we were attending. Now in its eighth year, XChange huddles reflect what’s on the mind of digital analytics program leaders who work at both global and national brand organizations.

Keeping Up with B2C: How B2B Suppliers Keep Customers Happy

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B2B suppliers are trying to keep up with the standards set in the B2C world by expanding their e-commerce platforms and overall omnichannel capabilities. And that's a good thing, according to a new study that found consumer shopping habits are influencing how B2B purchasers expect to buy from suppliers.

Nearly half of business buyers (49 percent) prefer making work-related purchases on the same websites they use for personal purchases — prompting a whooping 83 percent of B2B suppliers surveyed to recognize a need to upgrade their e-commerce capabilities.

More than half of all business buyers expect at least half of their purchases to be made online within three years, according to the study, Building The B2B Omni-Channel Commerce Platform of The Future, conducted by Forrester Consulting in North America, France, Germany and the United Kingdom on behalf of Accenture and hybris.

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