Salesforce.com held its annual customer and partner pilgrimage last week called the Dreamforce 2011. This mega event had a whopping 45,000 registered attendees and at least 15,000 were present for the opening keynote by Marc Benioff. The much anticipated keynote was given by Marc Benioff who no doubt he is a master marketer. He
successfully drilled home the message of Social Enterprise and how Chatter fits
neatly into the vision of new type of collaboration, interaction and customer
In fact not only the keynote but the entire event had widespread case studies from large enterprises that were using Chatter as their hub for all internal conversation. Heavyweights from Coca Cola, Burberry, NBC Universal, Verizon and others were there to lend support and show how Salesforce.com was helping them transform their sales organizations. Even the billboard cut outs had quotes from CEOs of prominent enterprises touting the benefitsof Chatter on multiple devices such as iPads, Tablets and mobile phones.
The event was very significant in more ways than one. On the one hand it had four key announcements while on the other it did not talk a lot about SMBs. But contrary to popular sentiments many of the announcements may actually be very relevant for SMBs.
Four Key Announcements were:
While all of the above technologies are great for Enterprises some are better suited for SMBs than others, especially for the less than 100 employees’ businesses. Last year Salesforce.com had revenues of $1.6 Billion with over 100,000 customers (Salesforce.com Annual Report). This suggests an average of $16,000 per customer and much fewer than 100 users per customer. And this leads us to believe that most of Salesforce.com’s customers are upper-mid-market businesses. The above announcements fall firmly within the realm and sweet spot of the 100-999 employee size businesses.
Chatter as an SMB Collaborative Platform
As per Techaisle’s continuous Global SMB research, a small business (1-99) has an average of 8 employees in the US and 20 percent, that is, 1.2 employees per small business are on the Cloud. With this low number of employees will Chatter be a viable option for small businesses? These small businesses are already overburdened and hamstrung with using Facebook, Twitter and other external facing social networking channels? The answer is yes with some modifications. Recent Techaisle study shows that 81 percent of SMBs are adopting mobility solutions, 66 percent of small business employees and 48 percent of mid-market employees either work from home or travel for work at least once a week. For these employees and business owners collaboration is a top of mind issue. To that extent Chatter is a great collaboration tool. Chatter makes the work from anywhere and anytime easier for SMBs. It makes it all the more important for mid-market businesses to adopt Chatter as they have an average of 125 employees per business and 30 percent of them are on cloud.
Database.com & Data.com
This is where the divergence begins. Are database.com and data.com relevant for SMBs? Yes, but the pricing and unpredictable monthly expenditure may limit SMBs’ use and deployment. Database.com is being offered free for up to 3 standard users, 3 admin users, 100,000 records and 50,000 transactions per month. Both a B2C SMB and B2B SMB will have more than 100,000 records but necessarily not 50,000 transactions. It also depends upon the size and vertical of the business. Therefore, it will take time for proper used cases to accumulate before SMBs and their channel partners can begin to recommend such a
Data.com is quite a powerful tool priced at $99 per user per month. This allows up to 300 records per month to be imported with additional records at $0.50 per record. This is quite an attractive pricing for SMBs. However, it would be up to their channel partners to show them the value along with some price comparisons. Most SMBs may require more than 300 records per month while others may require less depending upon their coverage areas. More mid-market businesses would be able to use it rather than small businesses.
Jigsaw (genesis behind data.com) suffers from its crowd sourcing practice [in that it is populated by people in exchange of credits to see other people] - often data is not up to date and the proportion of businesses contacts tend to be of large enterprises, so not a lot for SMBs to get records and lists of neighborhood businesses, non-profits and other organizations. This may create a dilemma for an SMB paying customer if they cannot find relevant contacts.
Next Steps for Salesforce.com's SMB Strategy
As the adoption of salesforce.com continues within large enterprises it begins to look like ERP implementations of yesteryears. The cost to switch is tremendous. With a great messaging from Salesforce.com enterprises are willing and able to deepen their relationship with Salesforce.com.
Techaisle’s Cloud Computing research and market sizing shows that Cloud CRM spend by small businesses (1-99 employees) in the US alone is expected to be US$679 million in 2012. While Salesforce.com seems to have done well in the midmarket (100-999 employees) segment, 6 million small businesses (1-99 employees) in the US alone represent a huge opportunity.
Salesforce.com derives over two-thirds of its revenues from the US even though US accounts for just one-fourth of the world’s GDP and even other large tech companies derive a much greater share of their revenues from overseas than Salesforce.com. Techaisle's research shows a significant increase in awareness of and willingness to adopt SaaS solutions in several countries both among SMBs and Enterprises. In fact only 35 percent of SMB Cloud CRM spends in 2012 is expected to come from the US.
Salesforce.com has yet to show its commitment and plan for a global SMB reach.
Salesfore.com has grown rapidly and the guidance for this year is also for continuation of that trend. However, the market conditions will begin to change with the the dramatic increase in awareness as well as potential supply of SaaS providers especially targeting the SMBs. Techaisle’s global research also finds that SMBs in selected markets also show a significant willingness to adopt various other SaaS solutions. Given the SMBs’ proclivity to purchase multiple solutions from a single provider, Salesforce.com should plan to broaden its offerings beyond CRM and also allow for easy and efficient integration with its
Salesforce.com has been a pioneer in the PaaS space with its Force.com offering. The platform is being used primarily by enterprises or channel partners (e.g. ISVs, VARs and systems integrators). To continue its reach within the SMB segments Salesforce.com has to develop a stronger channel ecosystem which could contribute to growth in its subscription base.
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