Category Archives: Salesforce

Salesforce unveils Einstein Copilot for Tableau

Salesforce has introduced the beta version of Einstein Copilot for Tableau, a new capability designed to help users in every role and function explore data with AI assistance.  Businesses tend to distribute insights from data in reports and dashboards created by expert analysts. Dashboards created in Tableau are visual and interactive, allowing users to adjust… Read more »

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Salesforce unveils innovations to help utilities scale clean energy program adoption

Salesforce has introduced its Clean Energy Program Management for Energy & Utilities Cloud. The new solution streamlines the launch, management and oversight of energy efficiency, conservation, electrification and EV charging programs. Now program managers at electric, gas and water utilities can quickly and easily launch and manage new programs and increase customer participation. In September 2023,… Read more »

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Acxiom boosts brands’ marketing ROI with Salesforce Data Cloud

Customer intelligence company Acxiom has extended its Salesforce practice to support brands in achieving their unique business goals with Salesforce Data Cloud. The Salesforce Data Cloud uses real-time data to deliver highly personalised customer experiences across sales, service, marketing, and commerce that continuously adapt to changing customer information and needs in real time. Today, customers… Read more »

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Acxiom joins Salesforce AppExchange to transform personalised experiences

Customer intelligence company Acxiom has joined the Salesforce AppExchange Genie Collection, empowering brands to better understand their customers, drive personalisation at scale and unlock new opportunities that accelerate business growth. Brands today are expected to know their customers, anticipate their needs, and engage in ways that are personalised, relevant, and contextual. A data-first approach is… Read more »

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Salesforce ventures into e-Commerce with $2.8bn acquisition

Salesforce 1Salesforce has taken another step towards the e-Commerce market after announcing it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Demandware for $2.8 billion.

Demandware provides a cloud-based e-commerce platform and related services for retailers and brands worldwide, going public during 2012 after raising $88 million in its initial public offering of $16 a share. Salesforce has announced it will commence a tender offer for all outstanding shares of Demandware for $75 per share, with the deal set to complete by July 31, 2016, the end of Salesforce’s second quarter.

As with the Marketing Cloud proposition, Salesforce is seemingly happy to pay healthily above share value to break into new markets when it cannot develop the capabilities organically. The company acquired ExactTarget for $2.5 billion in 2013, this was previously Salesforce’s largest acquisition, which built the foundation of the Marketing Cloud proposition.

“Demandware is an amazing company—the global cloud leader in the multi-billion dollar digital commerce market,” said Marc Benioff, CEO at Salesforce. “With Demandware, Salesforce will be well positioned to deliver the future of commerce as part of our Customer Success Platform and create yet another billion dollar cloud.”

The idea of ‘omnichannel’ business would generally not be considered new to the industry, though this is one of the first major steps Salesforce has made in diversifying its core business offering. The company is widely recognised as a leader in the CRM space, though the Demandware acquisition offers a number of upselling opportunities for its current customer base (those who are using Marketing Cloud and its CRM offering), who may well favour having their CRM and e-Commerce platform from the same vendor.

Demandware currently works with a number of brands around the world including Design Within Reach, Lands’ End, L’Oreal and Marks & Spencer, to deliver customized experiences for customers across web, mobile, social and in the store. The acquisition is expected to increase Salesforce’s revenues by approximately $100 million to $120 million through the remainder of the financial year.

Salesforce to run some core services on AWS

Salesforce 1Salesforce has announced it will run some of its core services on AWS in various international markets, as well as continuing investments into its own data centres.

The announcement comes two weeks after the company experiences a database failure on the NA14 instance, which caused a service outage which lasted for 12 hours for a number of customers in North America.

“With today’s announcement, Salesforce will use AWS to help bring new infrastructure online more quickly and efficiently. The company will also continue to invest in its own data centres,” said Parker Harris, on the company’s blog. “Customers can expect that Salesforce will continue to deliver the same secure, trusted, reliable and available cloud computing services to customers, regardless of the underlying infrastructure.”

While Salesforce would not have appeared to have suffered any serious negative impact from the outage in recent weeks, the move could be seen as a means to rebuild trust in its robustness, leaning on AWS’ brand credibility to provide assurances. The move would also give the Salesforce team options should another outage occur within its own data centres. The geographies this announcement will apply to have not been announced at the time of writing.

Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, App Cloud, Community Cloud and Analytics Cloud (amongst others) will now be available on AWS, though the move does not mean Salesforce is moving away from their own data centres. Investment will continue as this appears to be a failsafe for the business. In fact, Heroku, Marketing Cloud Social Studio, SalesforceIQ and IoT cloud already run on AWS.

“We are excited to expand our strategic relationship with Amazon as our preferred public cloud infrastructure provider,” said Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. “There is no public cloud infrastructure provider that is more sophisticated or has more robust enterprise capabilities for supporting the needs of our growing global customer base.”

Salesforce SMB’s business leader talks data analytics, AI and the age of entrepreneurship

Sanj Salesforce

Sanj Bhayro, SVP EMEA Commercial at Salesforce

While the business world has traditionally favoured the biggest and the richest, cloud as a technology is seen as the great equalizer. Through a transition through to the cloud, SMBs are being empowered to take on the nemesis of enterprise business, with the number of wins growing year-on-year.

This, according to Salesforce’s Sanj Bhayro, is one of the most exciting trends we’re now witnessing in business throughout the world. Bhayro currently leads the EMEA SMB business at Salesforce and for almost 11 years has been part of the team which has seen the power of intelligent CRM systems grow backroom businesses to industry giants. Just look at the growth and influence of companies such as Uber and AirBnB for justification of his claims.

“The SMB business in Salesforce is one of the most exciting, because we get to work with really innovative companies,” said Bhayro. “All the innovation in the industry is coming from these small to medium sized businesses. They are disrupting the traditional market which is in turn forcing the traditional players to transform their own business models.

“Something which is interesting from our perspective at Salesforce is that when we started 17 years ago the internet wasn’t that prevalent, the cloud wasn’t a word that was used that often, and it was the SMB companies who adopted our technology. The cloud offered them the operational efficiency, the scale and the reach to take on these traditional players. These smaller organizations are looking more and more towards technology as the enabler for innovation.”

The majority of the SMBs could be considered to be too small to drive innovation in-house. For the most part, the IT department is small, and responsible for ‘keeping the lights on’, working through the cloud has enabled innovation and created opportunities for these organizations. And for the most part, the ability to be innovative is much more prominent in the smaller organizations.

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The fail-fast business model is one which has captured the imagination of numerous enterprise organizations around the world. Amazon CEO Jeffrey Bezos recently claimed the fail-fast model was the catalyst for recent growth within the AWS business, though the majority are seemingly struggling to implement the right culture which encourages learning and innovating through failing. For the majority, failure is simply failure, not part of the journey to success.

But this in itself is one of the ways in which the smaller, more agile organizations are innovating and catching enterprise scale businesses. The implementation of cloud platforms speeds up the failures and lessens negative impacts on the business, to further drive the journey to innovation.

“For start-ups and early stage companies, failing is an accepted mentality. How many companies are actually the same as when they started? They failed, learned and then progressed. As businesses become bigger and bigger it becomes a lot more difficult. Certainly for larger companies there is a lot more friction around the fail-fast model. Smaller companies are culturally set up to allow them to pivot and try new things, whereas larger ones, purely because of their size, are constrained.”

Outside of the SMB team, Salesforce engineers have been prioritizing the use of artificial intelligence for future product launches and updates. This was reinforced during the company’s quarterly earnings call in recent weeks as CEO Marc Benioff backed AI as the next major growth driver. While there is potential for AI in the SMB market place, for the moment it is only for those who are ahead of the curve.

For the most part, data analytics is starting to drip down into smaller organizations, though there is still a substantial amount of data which is not being utilized. For Bhayro, as the concept of the cloud is now ubiquitous, the opportunities are almost limitless. But only once these organizations have got on top of managing their own data, breaking down the silos within the business.

Robotic hand, accessing on laptop, the virtual world of information. Concept of artificial intelligence and replacement of humans by machines.“AI translates well into the SMB business model and it will be the SMBs who drive where AI goes,” said Bhayro. “There are generally two camps when it comes to the SMB market, those who are cloud-native, those who capitalizing on the sharing-economy and those who are more traditional organizations. The shift that the traditional business has to make to break down the silos, and to move towards a cloud back-end is far more difficult than a company like Deliveroo who started in the cloud and can scale. Never the less that shift has to be made.”

“So much data is being created and there’s so much that you can do with it. The problem is that so many companies are not doing enough with their data. Recent reports stated that most companies can only analyse 1% of their data. Even before we start moving towards AI technologies, the way we service intelligence is through insight. We need to provide the right tools to make data available and malleable, to everybody in your business. These data analytics tools are the first steps and then we can look forward to AI technologies.”

The UK government has made numerous schemes available to SMBs to encourage the growth of this subsector in recent years, and Bhayro believes these efforts have been playing off in the international markets.

“I delighted to say that the UK takes a leadership position (in relation to SMB growth and innovation in comparison to the rest of Europe),” said Bhayro. “Something in the region of 95-96% of the companies in the UK are SMBs, and the government is currently doing the right things to encourage and propel entrepreneurs. I think we’re in the time of entrepreneurship, and this is the time for people to have the vision and grow. These companies are having wonderful ideas, and they are moving into the growth period, but it’s the customer experience which really differentiates them from the competition. Not many of these companies are set up to achieve customer experience objectives, but this is where we (Salesforce) come in.”

Salesforce reveals secret recipe for digital transformation

Salesforce 1Speaking at the London edition of Salesforce’s world tour, EVP of Customer Success & Growth Simon Short outlined the case for digital transformation, and also the factors which underpin a successful transformation project itself.

Short’s view on digital transformation is there are very few companies who achieve the goal of becoming digitally orientated. This is done to three reasons. Firstly, the aggressive expansion of technology is so vast some organizations are drowning in information overload. Another is the cultural side of digital transformation, there simply aren’t enough companies embracing the necessity of cultural change. And finally, despite implementing various technologies and advanced platforms, some companies still operate in silos. Until these digital silos are connected on one overarching platform, the digital transformation journey is not complete.

The invention of chess is a good anecdote to demonstrate the progression of technology. The inventor, Ibn Khallikan, approached the Indian king with the game and his reward was to be rice, more specifically one grain for the first square on the chess board, two for the second, four for the third, and doubling there on until the end of the 64 squares. Although at first it would not appear to be a great amount, the geometric progression of the amount of rice far exceeded the king’s resources. Short believes the same theory can be applied to the growth of technology in the business world.

“If you apply the same doubling theory and Moore’s law to the growth and importance of technology, we get have way through the chess board in 2002,” said Short. “Since then we’ve seen an explosion of technology within the business world. As we continue to move forward, it’s a real challenge for those with existing technology to make the change and get ahead of the trend. No one really knows what the power of technology is and where it will go. This is the conundrum for businesses throughout the world.”

One of the main challenges here is focused around legacy technologies, businesses cannot rid themselves of the cumbersome platforms quickly enough to capitalize on the potential on emerging technologies. But at the same time, Short highlighted the companies who focus on technology implementation and do not embrace the cultural change required will not be successful in the digital transformation journey.

Salesman painting tree instead of cityAccording to Short, digital transformation is so much more than simply implementing technology. Ensuring you employees embrace the digital change, as well as connecting the individual silos (for example the eCommerce platform to the customer call centre and also the logistics/delivery team), are more important aspects of the project than the technology itself. Without the digital culture and the connected model, the customer simply sees a business which is broken even if the technology is revolutionary. “Silos and culture are the two things which can kill any transformation project,” said Short.

But what is the secret to a successful digital transformation project? And what have the successful ‘Digital Masters’ done which other companies haven’t?

For Short, the project has to be led by the CEO and has to be phased in. The various different components of the project (business change, strategy, technology implementation, employee digital engagement etc.) have to be implemented hand-in-hand. If one area progresses faster than the rest, the project will stutter. And most importantly, there has to be a governance and accountability role, an area which most companies overlook, to ensure all components of the project are heading in the same direction and progressing at the same speed. In general, there are six lessons from Short’s and Salesforce’s perspective:

  1. Change has to be led from the CEO and not delegated down. The business unit and IT cannot get into a shouting match, pointed fingers at each other, the CEO needs to take control and pull the business along with him
  2. Physical and digital experience needs to be co-ordinated. The customer experiences the brand in the physical world as well as the digital despite the growth of the internet and technology; the physical and digital experience for the customer needs to be co-ordinated to be successful
  3. Outside-in thinking. Many companies make the mistake of telling their customers about how they are changing the brand, as opposed to understanding what the customer journey is and adapting the digital experience to enhance this.
  4. Understanding it’s okay to fail. This is one of the more challenging facets according to Short, as accountable businesses don’t like to fail. But the belief every PoC will be an extraordinary success is somewhat wishful thinking. Short highlighted being okay with failure is the only way to move on and achieve success.
  5. Data driven insights. The amount of data available to businesses is unprecedented and growing faster every day. Decisions should be based on the data available which has been derived directly from the customer. It removes uncertainty (as much as possible in any case) and provides justification.
  6. A single platform to connect the business units. Without a single platform to connect all business units, digital transformation cannot be achieved, as digital transformation should focus on the connected journey. The aim should be the seamlessly interact with the customer on all their touchpoints.

Digital transformation is a key objective for the majority of businesses around the world, and rightly so. According to MIT research which Short quoted on stage, digitally transformed businesses are 26% more profitable than what would be perceived as the norm, but too many companies are focusing on the technology as opposed to the customer. Until the ideas of culture, technology and silo connections are addressed on a level playing field, digital transformation cannot be achieved.

Marc Benioff backs AI as Salesforce reports 28% growth

Marc Benioff

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff

Salesforce reported healthy results over the course of Q1, growing 28%, as CEO Marc Benioff backed AI as the next major growth driver, during the company’s quarterly earnings call.

While social and mobile has facilitated Salesforce growth in recent years, the team are backing artificial intelligence as the next major trend to take the company through the targeted $10 billion annual revenue target. Benioff highlighted that in the same way the company is now known for being a social and mobility brand, the ambition is for Salesforce to be perceived as “an AI first company”.

“When I look at kind of the next major trend for Salesforce and our industry that will drive tremendous growth is got to be artificial intelligence,” said Benioff. “And as we look out into the future and we start to look at extreme improvement and advances in artificial intelligence whether it’s machine learning, whether it’s deep learning, whether it’s machine intelligence itself, I think that those kind of capabilities appearing inside our applications that is going to be a major growth capability going forward.”

One of the newest product launches for the company, Salesforce Inbox, uses these AI and machine intelligence opportunities to gives companies a perspective on how they can be more efficient in the sales, service, and marketing processes. SalesforceIQ is another offering which uses the same capabilities as it has an artificial intelligence front end, whereas Benioff also highlighted Sales Cloud has a machine learning front end.

While others in the industry have been very vocal about their progress within the AI field, Salesforce has seemingly been sneaking in under the radar with additional acquisitions including Tempo AI and PredictionIO. SalesforceIQ, an AI-driven calendar app which can prioritize work schedules for sales employees, was incorporated into the product portfolio following the $390 million acquisition of RelateIQ in 2014. These acquisitions, as well as organic development, are aiding the company in adapting to what Benioff described as “an AI first world”.

Salesforce’s new efforts will focus on the new, digitally enabled customers and consumers, who could be seen to driving the transformation worldwide. This new generation is defined by technology and speed, as Benioff highlighted they want services faster and easier than ever before, as well as being ever more reliant on social and mobile technologies. Companies who do not adapt themselves to this new proposition but remain in a more traditional model are those who will struggle to remain competitive.

“We’re in the midst of a massive generational shift; a new generation of customers and consumers is clearly emerging,” said Benioff. “We have been calling them here at Salesforce C generation customers. I mean this is really part of a huge shift that’s happening in computing. We’ve gone from the first generation of computing which was very much about systems of record to the second generation which was systems of engagement we talked about that on these calls many times over the last 10 years.

“And we are clearly moving into this incredible world that the system of intelligence that’s all yielding these incredible systems of customers or C generation customers that are — that our customers are connecting to. And that’s we’re so excited about.”

In terms of financials, revenues for Q1 grew to nearly $2 billion, up 28% in constant currency. Sales Cloud demonstrated 15% year-over-year growth, Service Cloud grew 32%, Marketing Cloud grew 29%, whereas Apps Cloud and other business units grew 45%. Growth in Sales Cloud was the highest recorded in the five previous quarters, which Benioff attributing to a number of new innovations including its Lightning platform, where the team have recently released an updated government edition, as well as Pardot and SteelBrick capabilities.

The team are also raising 2017 revenue guidance to $8.16 billion to $8.2 billion, and are expecting revenues of between $2.005 billion to $2.015 billion in Q2.

“I’m also thrilled to announce we’re raising full-year revenue guidance $80 million raising the guidance we feel really excited about that, $8.2 billion is the high-end of our range and our current outlook puts us on its square path, look we are going to see now that we’re going to realize very shortly our $10 billion dream,” said Benioff. “This is amazing I think that one of the reasons that we are doing so well is because Oracle and SAP are doing so poorly in the cloud”

Salesforce plans to launch IoT offering on AWS

Salesforce WearSalesforce has announced plans to launch its new IoT offering on AWS facilities, moving away from it traditional play of using its own data centre infrastructure, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The offering is reportedly going to be launched by Salesforce in the next couple of months, is currently available to a select number of customers as the team test the various features. Saleforce’s IoT Cloud was initially announced last September, enabling customers to personalize the way they sell, service and market top their prospects. As part of the development, Salesforce has partnered with a number of firms including ARM, Etherios, Informatica, PTC ThingWorx and Xively LogMeln, to bring the service to market.

“Salesforce is turning the Internet of Things into the Internet of Customers,” said Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce at the time. “The IoT Cloud will allow businesses to create real-time 1:1, proactive actions for sales, service, marketing or any other business process, delivering a new kind of customer success.”

Salesforce has traditionally built new services on its own data centre infrastructure, though it would appear to be joining a number of other companies, including Netflix, who are utilizing the services of AWS as well as in-house options. This is not the first experience of AWS for Salesforce however, as the company acquired Heroku in 2010, which operated on AWS. Working with AWS also gives Salesforce the flexibility to manage what could be large scale growth should the offering receive large scale traction upon launch, as adding additional hardware to its own data centre to meet demand could take days or even weeks.

Alongside the IoT announcement, Benioff has taken to Twitter to apologize for a database failure on the NA14 instance, which caused outages for a number of customers in North America, which lasted for more than 12 hours.

The failure occurred after “a successful site switch” of the NA14 instance “to resolve a service disruption that occurred between 00:47 to 02:39 UTC on May 10, 2016 due to a failure in the power distribution in the primary data centre” the company said. Although not confirmed by Salesforce, it would appear a large number of customers throughout North America were impacted by the failure.

Salesforce apology