Dreamforce 2013 – SalesForce Marches Forward

In addition to Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff’s announcement about “SuperPod”, which we wrote about earlier this month, was the launch of the long awaited upgrade to SF deemed “Salesforce 1”. Although not a completely new product it is a consolidation of several existing Salesforce products including the core CRM platform, social tools Chatter and ExactTarget, the marketing cloud, and multiple built-in third party applications.

One interesting addition is support for further development of tools to garner data from customer devices equipped with embedded sensors. This is the sort of location based data, particularly those that lead to purchases, that fuel the ability to serve up personalized product offerings based on now observable customer habits. This feeds off of the rapidly growing interest in the “Internet of Things”, where virtually everything would be in some manner connected to the web.

All of this is part of Salesforce’s continuing push to have its service capable of reaching customers anywhere, anytime and on any device.

Benioff underscored this in an recent earnings call when he stated, “You have got to be ready to sell, to service, to market to your customers regardless of where the customer touch point is. This is really the Internet of customers, where companies connect to their customers through the next generation of devices, apps and services,”.

Part of the stack that Salesforce 1 creates has the Heroku cloud service riding along with the core components of Force.com and ExactTarget FUEL. Heroku was acquired by Salesforce in 2010 and it provides the a means for building and the deploying online applications directly into Salesforce ecosystem.

As Klint Finley of Wired Magazine puts it “Heroku offers what’s known as platform-as-a-service. Basically, it’s an online tool that lets you build and deploy large online applications without having to worry about the hardware and software infrastructure that keeps them going. Salesforce also runs Force.com, a visual tool for creating and integrating applications on the Salesforce platform, but the Heroku service is something that’s far more attractive to hardcore software developers.”

Although the launch of Salesforce 1 marks a giant leap for the company it will require new and more specialized skill from IT teams to get the most out of it. The capability to design and deploy applications specific to your business or your audience isn’t often available in existing staff. Hiring folks with more specialized skills may be an answer but it is one that may be out of budget reach for some companies.

For these organizations there are options. Outsourced development has mature greatly over the years and a large number of teams are available that have the necessary expertise. These firms allow clients to use the advanced development resources more as needed to fill expertise gaps or to fill needs on a project by project basis.

Add to that the fact that these teams are generally in areas where personnel costs are far lower than those found in similar North American firms and yet most also maintain North American project management in order to better maintain both the relationship and keep projects on track and on budget.

There is no denying anymore that Salesforce has become a real leader in this industry and with the deployment of Salesforce 1 is the next step in the company’s long term plan.