willlaunch a major strategic shift next week from a sales-driven CRM company to onefocused on long-term customer success. 

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff leaked part of the plan last month with a tweet that mentionedplans for an Analytics Cloud, but that is only part of a broader vision. Thecompany, a pioneer in cloud-based software, will announce the new analytics service on Monday. On Tuesday, Benioff will outline how those tools will enable the company's evolution into a "customer success platform," a source closeto the company confirmed today.

"We will be announcing the Analytics Cloud at Dreamforce, but that's just one of the new announcements we've got," CMO Lynn Vojvodich said during an interview with Bloomberg TV

Big Changes

As it has in the past, this year's show, which is expected to draw up to135,000 attendees, will transform much of San Francisco's South of Marketdistrict into a sprawling technology campus. The four-day show will featurecelebrity-studded speeches by former US Vice President Al Gore, singer-songwriter Neil Young, Andreessen Horowitz co-founder Marc Andreessen, Hillary Rodham Clinton and others. Singer-songwriter Bruno Mars will headline a charity concert.

However, most of the conference will  focus on explaining how the newAnalytics Cloud will bolster the power of applications, turning them intopredictive tools that can help marketers and sales reps assure the long-termsuccess of their customers.

A banner already draped across the entrance to the Moscone Center conventioncomplex identifies Salesforce as "The Customer Success Platform,"reflecting its new focus on lifetime customer value. It's a significant changefor Salesforce, whose stock trades under the ticker CRM. Benioff's speech onTuesday is scheduled to begin a half-hour after the market closes. Shares closed today at $57.13, just below the midpoint of their 52-weekhigh of $67.00 and low of $48.18. 

Analytics and Customer Success

Unlike traditional sales efforts that tend to be tied to closing a contract,customer success programs monitor customer health through a continuing process,from the point of first contact through contract renewal. The customer successapproach is especially important for software vendors that have transitionedfrom one-time sales of on-premise software to month-to-month subscriptions forSoftware-as-a-Service (SaaS).

The analytics cloud fits well with the customer success vision.Cognitive computing in the cloud will help make applications like customerrelationship management and customer success much smarter. For example, insteadof simply tracking the progress of sales prospects in the pipeline, companiesmaybe able to predict which customer will respond to a certain message at a certaintime. 

"Over the next year and one-half -- we're saying by the end of 2015 --50 percent of applications are going to be predictive. The applications aregoing to be smarter. They're not going to be dumb," Jim Lundy, CEO ofAragon Research, said in a CMSWireinterview earlier this week.

Optimized Partner Apps

CMSWire has learned more than 15 Salesforce partners in varied fields havequietly developed applications that demonstrate the capabilities of theSalesforce analytics service, which will be available to customers on Oct. 20.Major product announcements are expected next week from Jitterbit(integration), Velocify(sales automation), Apttus(sales quotations) and Birst(decision making), among others.

Learning Opportunities

"Salesforce Analytics Cloud will be an effective tool for uncovering newinsights and supporting data-driven action," said George Gallegos, CEO ofJitterbit. He said that with his company's Harmony cloud platform "we willbe able to provide the fastest path for companies to connect the [analyticscloud] to the rest of the enterprise."

"We see this delivering powerful benefits to our joint customers,"Monica Girolami, head of marketing in North American for NewVoiceMedia, said inan email. She added that customers "will be able to combine theirSalesforce insights with NewVoiceMedia metrics and other AppExchange metricsthrough a powerful analytics cloud," enhancing their strategic decisions.

Competition in Analytics

Most other large software companies have already introduced cloud-basedcomputing, but Salesforce will have apps that arealready tuned to its platform. Oracle stressed cloud-based analyticsat OpenWorld last week.IBM recently released its WatsonEcosystem. AdobeAnalytics today announced tools for Mobile Apps. MicrosoftAzure, Google's ComputeEngine and AmazonWeb Services also offer similar services.

"We have long thought that [Salesforce] would eventually be adding an Analytics Cloud, given some of the strategic buys they have made," Jason Maynard, an analyst for Wells Fargo Securities wrote in a recent research report. "We are assuming that the analytics capabilities [of the Salesforce platform] will feature more comprehensive reporting functionality with visual analytics and drill-down features."

The fact that Salesforce is launching an analytics tool at all signals a turn-aroundfrom last year's Dreamforce conference, when Benioff said Salesforce "doesnot intend to move into the traditional, horizontal analytics market." Healso claimed the company was already "a massive analytics provider throughmillions and millions of dashboards that are being generated by all ourcustomers." 

Title image by  Ken Yeung  (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.