February 14, 2017

Don't Get Caught Off Guard by This 'Tipping Point'!

By Larry Gordon - The FactPoint Group

Strategic CXOs seize this surprising platform advantage

If I were in the C-suite of a big manufacturing or retail consumer goods company now, I’d either be worried or elated by the results of a recent research paper that my organization—FactPoint—co-produced with ICIX, a supply-chain trust and risk management company used by many of the world’s largest retailers and consumer-goods manufacturers.

Elated if I’d seen this trend coming earlier. Worried if I hadn’t.

The research findings that surprised us

We started out looking at the state of cloud adoption in large organizations. How many of them had adopted cloud software in place of in-house software and on-premises systems? We started to look.

What we found is that not only are many of these organizations running a big chunk of their operations on cloud-based software, but a lot of them have actually switched to cloud-based platforms, which we defined as the underlying software that higher-level programs use for security, interoperability, database access, user interfaces, customization and all of the other basic services and functions that all software uses. 

The platform they pick

And the platform they’re choosing was surprising, as well: Salesforce, which has grown and morphed beyond customer-relationship management (CRM) software into possibly the world’s largest cloud platform provider.

Why cloud platforms?

We also found that an entire new ecosystem of enterprise application providers has grown up around the Salesforce platform. Already, it’s delivering next-generation enterprise software solutions that offer revolutionary options in retail, supply chain risk management, and B-to-B collaboration on everything from sales to compliance.

We also found that an entire new ecosystem of enterprise application providers has grown up around the Salesforce platform and is delivering a new generation of enterprise software solutions that offers revolutionary options in retailing, food supply chains, and B-to-B collaboration around sales and compliance issues. 

CIOs told us that the large selection of enterprise software and solutions—along with the no-maintenance aspect of cloud platforms, better security, and the prospect of interoperability across and within enterprises—were big draws to cloud platforms.

Why Salesforce?

Sun Microsystems’ CEO Scott McNealy used to say “The network is the computer,” acknowledging the power and the burgeoning possibilities that the Internet and other networking technologies were creating. 

What’s today’s prophetic tag line? 

The company is its relationships. 

A company’s success depends more than ever on the power of its relationships—including those with customers, consumers, suppliers, frenemy companies, third-party service providers, internal enterprise stakeholders, and a cavalcade of others. And because of its heritage as a CRM company, the Salesforce platform has built-in technology that makes it easy for third-party developers to create software that uses the Salesforce platform to manage relationships of all kinds. But the CIOs and CTOs we interviewed also reported a more general Salesforce ability to help developers deliver powerful, innovative solutions to critical business issues.

One man's shadow IT is another's "smart and gets things done"

For example, a sales director wanted a transformative development effort that would help integrate service and sales. 

When the project came in ahead of time and under budget—and showed a great return on ROI—the organization noticed, and made Salesforce the platform for many new development projects.

“After our success story started to spread, that was when the global services team looked at it on the logistics side to use it as a front-end for logistics. They said, ‘Holy cow, [it was] faster and cheaper, we’ve got to start paying attention to this.’” That paved the way for the Salesforce platform at his large food company.

A 'contagious platform'

“Salesforce has such a strong draw and such strong features for the line-of-business folks. Salesforce makes it very easy for administrators to do an enormous amount

with a very, very small team,” says another large-company CIO.

We began thinking that maybe we were onto something big when many IT directors and CIOs we talked to told us very similar stories. 

“It’s a very contagious platform, and people see the power of it,” agreed the CIO of a major solar energy firm that is using the Salesforce platform as a huge marketing and customer satisfaction engine.

New choices abound for enterprise applications

As a result of the standard platform, many companies are picking their enterprise software applications from the ecosystem of solution providers that has grown up around Salesforce. 

For example, ICIX—a supply-chain trust and risk management firm—runs its solution 100% native on Salesforce, helping some of the world’s largest companies to manage relationships with their suppliers and other trading partners. And when you have a solution that needs to work for some of the largest retailers and manufacturers in the world—many of whom are ICIX customers—the robustness, security and interoperability of a platform like Salesforce are invaluable in making it work. And NOBODY provides a platform that facilitates relationship management solutions and enterprise innovation like Salesforce.

Critical competitive advantage 'spread like wildfire'

The result? “It just spread like wildfire all over our company,” says a food company CIO. And CIOs are reporting that the best way to deal with a wildfire like Salesforce is to harness its power—and the enterprise applications that run on it—as a critical competitive advantage.

Says Phil Newmoyer, CTO of DFG and previous CIO at Toys R Us and Serta Simmons Bedding, “The entire company—not just the technological leadership—has this now available to them to operate their businesses with a speed, agility, and efficiency that it is necessary. That becomes a competitive differentiator.”

Other CIOs agree, emphasizing the power of applications developed on the Salesforce platform. “You get that ecosystem of applications that are already pre-integrated, built and ready to go, which makes the build or buy decision pretty easy,” says Stephen Simons, who as CIO of a solar installer used Salesforce App Cloud extensively. “

“All of our apps integrate to that,” says Simons. “Those integrations are very smooth, very straightforward, and they all contribute to the single view of the customer — right out of the starting gate.”

How to make this 'competitive differentiator' your own

If you’d like to understand more about the Salesforce platform—and how CXOs are using it—get our free white paper here. Or better yet, join us the day after Valentine’s Day for a free webinar outlining the platform revolution and how it’s affecting companies like yours.


About the Author:

Larry Gordon - The FactPoint Group

​Larry co-founded FactPoint (formerly Internet Research Group) in 1992, and by 1999 helped build it into an Inc. 500 that served a world class list of clients. He directs consulting engagements and some multi-vendor studies such as E-Business 2000, a landmark study that segmented 12 industries for E-business. He has more than 16 years’ experience in marketing and new business development.

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