Image: Some of the 160,000 people attending Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference this year 
by Lars Plougmann via flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]
One of the key reasons is that Salesforce has managed to do something that almost no technology company has achieved since the start of computing….developed a broad platform and an ecosystem which is loved and respected by both the Business and the Technology communities. Business users loves it because they get pretty powerful CRM features (out of the box), have a high degree of access and control over application, data and process, get a powerful built in reporting and analytics engine, and can get projects implemented fast. They also love the point-and-click capabilities that allow non-developer System Administrators to build fully functional Enterprise Applications. Technologists and developers like it because, quite simply put, Salesforce delivers a huge arsenal of prebuilt functionalities which are the key ingredients of any enterprise application. Salesforce offers great capabilities around Data Security, Authentication, Email Messaging, Collaboration, web and mobile User Interface layer, User and Permissions management, Integration capabilities (with non-salesforce apps), on the Cloud! It’s a developer’s dream come true when the technology stack choices are easy (Apex/Visualforce/Integration APIs), there are no ‘compatibility’ worries, software upgrades are automatic and always backwards compatible. In addition, the Salesforce App Exchange offers an amazing platform to sell and buy Enterprise Products that extend a company’s capabilities with features that are not available in the core Salesforce products, and are difficult to build. The CTOs and CIOs of today are under a lot of pressure to deliver a never ending list of tools and functionalities, under tight timelines. Both internal and external. If they’re smart, they’ll look for a platform that’ll allow them to:
- Build capabilities fast,
- Iterate often,
- Keep the apps scalable,
- Keep them secure,
- Built great UI for multiple interfaces
- Allow easy maintenance,
- Securely enable flow of data and collaboration between employees, customers and partners,
- Manage structured and unstructured content (documents)
- Integrate with systems internally and externally.
And Salesforce offers those capabilities both as a PaaS platform and with its Product offerings. On the flip side, one of the things that holds people back from Salesforce is the per-user licensing model, which can become expensive and difficult to justify if not properly utilized and adopted by the business. So, user adoption, user satisfaction, impact analysis and ROI are all key to Salesforce project success. Additionally, it’s important to leverage the various kinds of user licenses available, like Force.com App Subscription, when possible, to keep the license costs down. It’s also important to remember that while there’s a lot of functionalities Salesforce offers out of the box, a Salesforce implementation has poor chances of success if left purely in the hands of a business user. Getting the right Salesforce Implementation partner is a key for turning Salesforce into an engine of growth and dynamism for the company. The features Salesforce offers are not unique, and have been implemented in solutions on other platforms innumerable times over the last many years. The genius of Salesforce lies in ‘Productising’ the key elements of enterprise computing in one single cloud platform. Quite honestly, I’m surprised that a Salesforce.com competitor has not sprung up in the last few years. Some competition in this space might be healthy. But till that happens, technology leaders cannot afford to ignore the Salesforce.com platform, and it’s growing importance in the Enterprise Computing space.