Salesforce Becomes the First Next Generation Enterprise Platform

Written by Ben Kepes and reposted here with his permission below is a full throated endorsement of salesforce.com’s evolution to a world class platform.  I personally think Ben held back a bit and my T&E is NOT being covered by Salesforce.  Frankly, even 3,000 miles away in my home office in New Jersey the ENERGY that is #DF12 is palpable.

A quick roundup of DreamForce news for today – with the disclosure that Salesforce is covering my T&E to be able to be here at the event.

Strong words but, as I predicted, the announcements at this years DreamForce point to Salesforce firmly creating for itself the position of first true IT platform of the cloud era – that’s a lofty statement but a justified one I believe. From the release, here are the announcements:

  • Salesforce Touch, Salesforce Chatter Communities for Partners and Data.com Social Key:Salesforce Touch, powered by HTML5, expands on salesforce.com‘s native mobile strategy and will bring Salesforce to any mobile device—regardless of platform—and empower reps to collaborate on deals anytime, anywhere. Chatter Communities for Partners will connect companies with distributors, resellers, suppliers and more to drive sales through seamless deal registration, access to proven sales tools and collaboration with the right experts. And Salesforce Data.com Social Key will unite the best context from social networks with traditional company data, enabling enterprises to build stronger relationships with customers and close more deals, faster.
  • Chatter Communities for Service: Chatter Communities for Service will turn the old world of legacy portals upside down by enabling customers to tap directly into a private social community of industry peers and company experts. And Chatter Communities for Service will integrate with the industry-leading Service Cloud to ensure customers get the best service.
  • Salesforce Marketing Cloud: The Salesforce Marketing Cloud is the first suite to unify social listening, content, engagement, advertising, workflow, automation and measurement. By combining industry leaders Buddy Media and Radian6 to power the Marketing Cloud, brands now have a proven suite to manage all social marketing activity and access common assets in one place.
  • Salesforce Chatterbox: Salesforce Chatterbox will deliver simple and secure file sharing across any device with the proven trust of Salesforce. With Salesforce Chatterbox, people will be able to manage and share files in the context of their business.
  • Salesforce Work.com: Work.com, the world’s first social performance management platform, transforms the way companies align around social goals, motivate their people with real-time recognition and rewards and drive performance with continuous feedback and relevant performance reviews. In addition, a new partnership with Amazon.com enables companies to reward and motivate their people directly from within Work.com.
  • Next-Generation Salesforce Platform: The Salesforce Platform, the world’s leading enterprise cloud platform, today introduced Salesforce Identity and the Salesforce Touch Platform. New Salesforce Identity will deliver “Facebook-like identity for the enterprise,” a single, social, trusted identity service to access and centrally manage every cloud app. And the new Salesforce Touch Platform will allow mobile apps to be written once and deployed anywhere, using the same cloud platform services developers love using today. With nine major enterprise cloud platform services, companies can now accelerate innovation and deliver next generation social and mobile apps with unparalleled levels of speed, mobile and trust on the Salesforce Platform.

At every turn we see Salesforce deliver the glue that ties together their formerly disconnected individual services. Let’s look at each one in turn:

Salesforce touch delivers on Salesforce’s long opined perspective that the future will be delivered over multiple devices and in multiple contexts. They were arguably the first company to really recognize the enterprise value of the tablet, and touch will enable their customers to deliver highly contextualized applications to their staff and stakeholders. Similarly with Chatter Communities we see Salesforce spread a fabric of social engagement outside of the organization itself and create continuity across the spectrum of customer to vendor touchpoints. And Data.com Social Key simply allows the organization to move away from the current paradigm where enterprise contact data is seen as distinct from external contact data – rather the two things will be merged into one global contact – the way most of us work in our day to day lives.

Marketing Cloud ties together some existing Salesforce products and delivers the key outcome that businesses need in the social age – the ability to both measure, and react to external social influences. I’ve seen marketing cloud in action and by gluing together the monitoring aspects of social and tying them to actual workflow and automation, Salesforce provides a end-to-end solution that will lower the barriers to entry into the social realm for its enterprise customers.

ChatterBox is a no-brainer. I’ve long opined that DropBox is immature and too great a risk for real business. While I love Box as a product, I believe that content should be deeply embedded within an enterprise application and ChatterBox does this. The reason is simple – content is a part of core workflows and processes and not a “thing” of itself. Any product which stands alone and tries to deliver a compelling content vision misses this point. It’s true that deep integrations of third party applications can be a very compelling model for content management, but it’s hard to look past the advantage that a native product will bring.

Work.com is the continuation of development of the products spawned through the Rypple acquisition – the partnership with Amazon.com is interesting if somewhat secondary to Salesforce building out a compelling HCM solution. I’m still expecting some relatively major announcements of aligning Work.com with products from Workday so this is a “more to come” area.

And with the Salesforce Platform we finally have the answer to how Salesforce will integrate Heroku within the parent organization – identity that works across all Salesforce properties as well as wider into the general cloud space is incredibly powerful – arguably as revolutionary as Active Directory was within the organization but on a much bigger scale. With this move on its own Salesforce has the potential to become the new global enterprise IT hub – after all, as IT departments looks to reduce complexity, any opportunity to abstract responsibility for such a large chunk of work as identity is very appealing – with this move Salesforce have both validated the model of, and lessened the opportunity for, SSO vendors such as Okta.

All this news is exciting, not because any one part of this is momentous, but because as a whole, taken alongside the existing product line, we see the emerging of a player that really has the next generation of IT sewn up. I was talking to someone yesterday who has recently left a very high level job within the organization, when I asked him of his future plans, his answer was illustrative of just what Salesforce has achieved:

The platform space is sewn up. It would be a brave company that tried to take Salesforce on with the depth and breadth of product it has built out

As always there are still questions – the existing vendors, SAP, Oracle and the like, won’t sit still for long. I’m picking Oracle for example will accelerate M&A activity, perhaps even bring forward their plans to acquire NetSuite. Microsoft too is a dark horse that can’t be discounted. But if the 90000 attendees, and product announcements that we’ve seen come today are anything to go by, Salesforce will be up there at the top table for the next decade or two.

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Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an invester, a commentator and a business adviser. His business interests  include a diverse range of industries from manufacturing to property to technology. As a technology commentator he has a broad presence both in the traditional media and extensively online. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.He is a globally recognized subject matter expert with an extensive following across multiple channels. His commentary has been published on ReadWriteWebGigaOmThe Guardian and a wide variety of publications – both print and online. Often included in lists of the most influential technology thinkers globally, Ben is also an active member of the Clouderati, a global group of Cloud thought leaders and is in demand as a speaker at conferences and events all around the world.As organizations react to the demands for more flexible working environments, the impacts of the economic downturn and the existence of multiple form-factor devices and ubiquitous connectivity, Cloud computing stands alone as the technology paradigm that enables the convergence of those trends – Ben’s insight into these factors has helped organizations large and small, buy-side and sell-side, to navigate a challenging path from the old paradigm to the new one.

Ben is passionate about technology as an enabler and enjoys exploring that theme in various settings.

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