There is a reason Salesforce.com emerged as a giant in the CRM space: The San Francisco-based company has often been on the cutting edge.
When the company started in 1999, it built its strategy around cloud computing when only the tech-savviest people knew anything about the concept of software as a service. In 2005, years before smartphones helped popularize the term “app store,” Salesforce.com already was selling CRM applications online at its AppExchange.
Al Falcione, Salesforce.com’s senior director of product marketing, recently spoke to DMNews about the company and the evolution of CRM technology.
DMNews: Why are cloud computing and CRM a perfect marriage?
Al Falcione: There are really three reasons for that. One is CRM users, like salespeople and customer service people, want an application that is easy to use. You need fast adoptions of the applications, and nothing is easier to use than an application that you can use through your browser.
Number two, the apps need to be easy to customize, and that’s another key capability of our sales and service applications. Every company has a different sales methodology, a sales process, customer service process that they need to implement.
And number three – and this is really core to cloud computing – is CRM apps need to be fast to implement. Nobody wants to sit around and wait six, eight months, a year, which it would take with traditional client-server software, to implement that, to customize it, to get it up and running. People want it to work in a couple of weeks, a month at most.
DMNews: In what ways are we seeing CRM evolve?
Falcione: Eleven years ago, when we first started building our applications, we looked at Amazon.com as kind of the marquee application for easy use on the Web, with clicks and tags and easy ways to purchase items using your browser. The world’s changed, and today we’ve had the shift from cloud one to cloud two. Cloud two is really about making applications that are social, where people can collaborate together, that work on mobile devices and all work in real time. And the metaphor we you use today is Facebook and Twitter. Not that you’d want Facebook for your company, but the features and the ideas behind Facebook of having a status update and following people and seeing everything that is important to business in your feed is a concept that we’re bringing into our CRM applications and all our enterprise applications that run on our platform.
DMNews: Salesforce.com released Chatter, its newest platform, in June. What does Chatter do?
Falcione: A lot of us at work, we’re inundated with information. There’s too much information out there. A lot of people to keep track of in the company, a lot of documents that are constantly changing, there’s data that’s changing inside the applications that we use. And it’s impossible to stay on top of that. And when something changes, we don’t know about it. We miss something, and that hurts our job. With Chatter, what we’ve done is taken the concepts of an application like Facebook, where you follow the people that you need to follow, and you can filter the information you need. And everything you want shows up in one place, in your feed. We’ve taken that idea and brought it to an enterprise application.