It was very evident today after attending #Cloudforce in NYC, an event hosted by Salesforce where they announced new features on their Cloud based SaaS service.
I have sat in many technology based keynotes and have to be very honest and say that this was the best one I’ve seen so far. They had a section on where the market has come from and where it is going, Marc Benioff (CEO) discussed the key pillars of their offering around: Sell, service, market, collaborating, work, innovate. What was really great was that they spent 15 minutes introducing the key premise of why that product was useful to a business based on their pains and then they had HUGE customer brands come up for each one and show exactly how they have used it. I’ve seen Microsoft try and do this so many times now at conferences and the perceived value just wasn’t hitting home. The keynote did a great job of highlighting the value those companies got from Salesforce.
Marc’s personality on stage and all of the other speakers, I counted about 10 in total, kept it fresh and I came out pumped to learn more about the offering. I’ve always giving Microsoft a hard time with their keynotes, comparing them to the amazing job the late Steve Jobs used to do. Marc Benioff is no Steve Jobs, but he comes across as a true leader of his company and presented extremely well.
The sessions throughout the day had multiple customers to talk about how they use the different products. These case studies were extremely well formed and really highlighted the benefits of the service and also the revolution that Salesforce are providing around mobile, social and customer relationship management.
Microsoft talk about SharePoint as a platform, but don’t market it that way by focusing on the functionality and tend to focus too much on infrastructure technology and demos are often extremely narrow and focused. The salesforce.com platform pitch was very different, with essentially customer scenarios walked through with the CIO’s up on stage talking about it. Force.com platform is very compelling platform and from looking at it and has much stronger social integration and mobile integration. You can see why SharePoint 2013 has focused on social and mobile, but to be honest after seeing Salesforce, the integration really doesn’t match it yet.
So marketplaces are nothing new, but with Salesforce’s platform, ISVs have built plenty of add-on solutions. There are over 1700 apps, with 20k reviews and 1.5M+ downloads. The SharePoint/Office and Dyanmics CRM place has a long way to go before it matures to this scale, but certainly a lot of lessons to learn there.
There was an interesting comment by the DocuSign representative who said “Sometimes the install experience can be tricky” and that “to contact the email address on the app page for help from vendor”. Which was a little concerning. Also there appears to be a limit to how many “managed apps” you can install in a tenancy…for a cloud that is concerning too.
Office 365 capability compete
It’s an interesting segment of Office 365 market that Salesforce is targeting right now and it is obvious that they see Dynamics CRM as a competitor in their Sales Cloud space and why Microsoft have announced that it will be part of the Office 365 offering in the future.
The Chatter offering definitely looks like a more mature Yammer and obvious much more mature than SharePoint 2013 social offering. The newly announced Chatter Communities allows businesses to collaborate and connect with customers, employees and product…it’s very much like the social communities you see in Newsgator and SharePoint 2013 community site (which is by no means anywhere near as strong as Newsgator).
ChatterBox is coming, which is “DropBox for the enterprise”. But there is not much information out there just yet on whether it’ll be a similar document management capability as SharePoint with metadata, versioning, workflow approval etc. I’m guessing not, but they do integrate with box.net which does have similar features to SharePoint’s document management story.
Their site.com offering is targeted at Internet facing sites loaded full of social integration and internal Intranets. I did not get to see how easy it was to build out sites, but the ones they showed were very impressive…but you never know the effort that has gone into them to develop..,like Ferrari.com .
Would be interesting to see a true comparison of the two solutions side by side in these workloads. Obviously there is a lot missing in salesforce e.g. no Mail box equivalent (Exchange) and no true VOIP/Conferencing equivalent (Lync).
Here in my opinion are some things that differentiate them that Microsoft do not offer right now…
- Mobile – salesforces' mobile story is very strong, build apps once, work on any device
- Identity – the identity allows you to log in with yours salesforce id into many other services like Google Docs
- Canvas – this allows you to surface legacy UI applications
- Work.com – I really like this performance management functionality they are providing for the enterprise…meet your goals…have a Amazon gift voucher!
- AppExchange – the marketplace is full of solutions for various verticals and SharePoint marketplace has a lot to learn from it.
One thing I will say is that the licensing of Salesforce is considerably more expensive than Office 365 plans, and Salesforce don’t offer mail or instant messaging competitors for Exchange or Lync. Plus they don’t have the rich collaboration story of Office either.
It’ll be interested to see how Microsoft tackle this moving forward…