With over 7,300 participants, 185 partners and three days of sessions and keynotes, the Dreamforce event is becoming one of the dominant shows in CRM and in all of on-demand. For Vtrenz, which has over a third of our customers using Salesforce.com for CRM, our partnership and integration with that platform continues to be a major component of the Vtrenz strategy to deliver best-in-class solutions to our clients.
As usual, Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce, raised the bar in terms of marketing the company and vision for on-demand. In his keynote, he formally introduced the Force.com platform-as-a-service offering — one of the industry’s first. With the addition of Visualforce, which allows developers to customize the full user interface of the platform, Salesforce’s Force.com platform enables users and companies to write full applications and then have Salesforce run the entire operation. Speakers from numerous companies told about a myriad of applications they are building on the platform. Moving beyond CRM and into the on-demand platform arena clearly opens up the size of Salesforce’s marketplace, which already has 900,000 subscribers and over 35,000 customers.
In terms of partnerships, what was a fairly focused group of niche add-ons has grown to upwards of 150 companies, from small add-on widgets to the likes of Accenture and Omniture. It is clear that Salesforce will look to maximize the number and quality of their partnerships in order to expand its user and developer base.
The other new application category announced in their suite was in providing their Idea-exchange capability as part of their feature set. Customers can now leverage feedback and ranking mechanisms in their own customer base to have a collaborative approach to product and service feedback (i.e. ideas). In their marketing automation component, Salesforce continued to add new features, with enhancements such as extended Campaign Reporting and Lead Responses. With our focus on execution and analysis of multi-channel campaigns, Vtrenz continually monitors and adopts enhancements that benefit our client base, and will keep watch for any future developments in this area.
It is also worth noting that last year, many prospects and marketing users had an introductory knowledge of what automated marketing and lead nurturing could do for their businesses. However, this year there was a heavy emphasis on lead generation, lead nurturing, and closed-loop reporting, both in terms of partners present and in the topics for the marketing sessions. I am encouraged by this acknowledgement of the value of marketing automation and automated demand generation solutions.
As Salesforce moves from a departmental solution to a full-fledged IT-driven platform, there will be an even greater need for consulting and integration services, especially around the lead-to-sales process. Luckily, small consultancies are popping up quickly and are growing at a rapid pace as clients look for help in integrating various on-demand, “self-service” solutions. Services providers such as Model Metrics (www.modelmetrics.com) and Appirio (www.appirio) continue to add innovative service offerings to support Salesforce.com customers. Vtrenz is well-positioned be the vendor of choice for the marketing execution component of the overall solution and will work closely with these new type consultancies to extend the value of Salesforce.com.
All in all, Dreamforce was a terrific event. We look forward to the show in 2008!
VP & GM, Vtrenz