co-founder diginomica
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The month in CRM: Why October provided no calm before the storm

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1st Nov 2013
co-founder diginomica
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November - a month topped and tailed by CRM looms, with Microsoft’s Convergence event in Barcelona next week set to be dominated by the latest version of Dynamics CRM while the countdown to Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce jamboree is well and truly into its final days.

So you might expect October to have been somewhat quieter by comparison - the calm before the proverbial CRM storm. But in fact there’s been quite a bit to note, beginning bizarrely enough with Salesforce.com, which seems to be like a big kid on Christmas Eve and opened up some of its presents before the big day.

What got most of the analyst firms tongues wagging was the push into identity management with the launch of Salesforce Identity. This is intended to solve that most dreary of problems of the 21st century Cloud apps world - having to log in to every flamin’ application one by one. What Salesforce Identity sets out to do is to provide corporate administrators with a single sign-on for users that will work across Salesforce.com, FinancialForce, Workday and so on.

It will even work in tandem with the kind of login services already on offer from Microsoft’s Active Directory although those among the Salesforce.com faithful who choose to sup from that spoon will find themselves paying an extra $1 a month on top of the standard $5 per user subscription fee.

It’s a sound and sensible move by Salesforce.com although one that does tread on the toes of partners and participants in the AppExchange, such as Okta and Ping, but needs must when there’s revenue to drive.

(BTW should anyone out there fancy becoming a future Salesforce.com partner, there’s a million bucks on offer to developers who create the winning entry at the Dreamforce Hackathon, the biggest single prize in hackathon history apparently.)

CMO-CIO turf war

Elsewhere it was interesting to note Salesforce.com - that most stalwart of advocates of the public Cloud model - cede somewhat to market realities and announce a private version of the AppExchange. Private AppExchange is generally available as of today (1st November) to customers running Salesforce.com’s Enterprise and higher editions.

Essentially this is intended to get past those luddite CIOs who still don’t want their colleagues playing in public sandpits alongside the hoi-polloi, but do fancy the idea of a pre-authorised private apps store where everything that is on offer has already been cleared for download by Joe Schmo in the sales team.

One theme that will ring out loud and clear at Dreamforce is the continued repetition of Gartner’s claim - now an inevitable ingredient of almost every hi-tech presentation - that the CMO is all set to win out in a tech buying decision turf-war with the CIO. Some of us find this stretches credibility somewhat, but there’s certainly no disputing that the CMO’s clout when it comes to influencing certain purchasing choices is increasing.

It was a theme picked up by Marketo CEO Phil Fernandez when his firm turned in a nice set of numbers and he drew attention to the fact that marketing cloud software could no longer just be regarded as an appendage to the CRM strategy of an organisation, but needed to be an agenda item in its own mainstream right.

Interestingly given the fact that CRM giants like Salesforce.com want to muscle in on Marketo’s happy hunting ground, Fernandez felt compelled to declare what is effectively a non-aggression pact with the CRM market when he said: “I have no desire to declare war on the CRM market at this point, in a literal sense.”

This was in response to analyst questioning about whether Marketo’s offering could essentially be classed as a form of CRM product set in its own right given its access to so much customer behavioural data.

Fernandez said he had no such ambitions to this mantle, although he did stake a powerful claim to some kudos in this respect when he argued: “In a Marketing First world, the marketing team is the corporate steward of the customer. So to the extent that the marketer is the steward across the whole enterprise of the customer, and we are the primary technology supplier to the marketer, then we are something pretty interesting.”

Hmm, sounds like a definite maybe to me…

Dancing on graves?

SAP caused a bit of a stir in October with some realigning of its Business ByDesign (BYD) strategy which in turn inevitably sparked wider debate about its overall Cloud Computing intentions. BYD is a low end Cloud ERP offering that, if we want to put it in a neat and tidy box, competes with the likes of NetSuite.

When launched, BYD was intended to have ramped up to 100,000 users or so by now. But, while the exact numbers appears open to significantly varying interpretations, the reality is that BYD has singularly failed to come anywhere near the target total.

So when SAP announced that it was rolling BYD under the umbrella of its general HANA database push, it was of course open season for the likes of NetSuite whose CEO Zach Nelson insisted he wasn’t dancing on BYDs ‘grave’ but did say: “It’s very hard to figure out what their strategy is. I think if it's confusing me, and I watch the space very closely, it's got to be incredibly confusing to customers, their customers in particular.”

That said, SAP moved quickly to reaffirm its commitment to cloud computing in general, announcing upgrades to SAP Cloud for Sales and SAP Cloud for Customer.

For his part, SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott insisted after the BYD decision became public: “We want you to understand that we are going to be the number one business software company in the Cloud in the world.”

But her perhaps took the edge of such dogmatic determination by adding the qualification that he wasn’t quite sure when might happen. “It's just a question of which year we take it,” he admitted. “But that's where we're going.”

Well, it’s better to travel in hope etc etc. 

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