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How digital disruption is driving uptake in the Salesforce.com state

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan October 5, 2014
Summary:
Digital disruption is the order of the day in the Salesforce.com customer world according to the annual eve-of-Dreamforce State of Salesforce study from consultancy Bluewolf.

It's now practically a traditional part of the Dreamforce conference that Bluewolf issues its annual study of the behavioral and spending patterns of Salesforce.com customers worldwide.

bluewolf
This third annual review surveyed  more than 1,000 business and technology leaders worldwide in  very large enterprises (more than 1,000 employees), large enterprises (up to 1,000 employees), and medium to small enterprises (fewer than 500 employees). Data collection was done in collaboration with the MIT Sloan School of Management.

This year's key findings:

  • Customers want (expect) a personalized digital experience.
  • Enterprise strategies are driven by business outcomes.
  • Cloud governance and application lifecycle management are seen as critical for innovation.

The report cites two market trends are creating the need for digital transformation:

  • Customer expectations as digital eliminates barriers to information and provides customers with higher expectations and less patience for difficult or unsatisfactory experiences.
  • Digital disruptors as companies use digital-driven models to disrupt the status quo and pioneer new products and services.

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Source: Bluewolf

Eric Berridge, Bluewolf CEO, notes:

Cloud, social, and mobile technologies have reduced market barriers, and pioneering companies are redefining business models across every industry. This rapid innovation is empowering customers with more choices, information, and power than ever before.

In response, companies are focusing on customer engagement to achieve business outcomes, whether it is through new client acquisition, increased wallet share, reducing customer churn, or improving the productivity of client facing roles and processes.

Companies must continually exceed rising customer expectations—and increasingly those expectations include high quality digital experiences that are smart, relevant, and frictionless.

Against this backdrop, customer engagement strategies have become increasingly critical with 53% of respondents saying they are investing in programs to measure that engagement, 12% of them 'substantially'.

Across the organization, different departments are being measured more and more on their customer engagement success (or otherwise), specifically:

  • Service (67% of respondents)
  • Sales (62%)
  • Marketing (49%)
  • Operations (40%)
  • IT (29%)

Who's using what?

On a Salesforce.com specific front, there's cheer to be had from the finding that more than half of customers (54%) are typically using two or more Salesforce.com clouds.

Unsurprisingly, the Sales Cloud is the most heavily used, 89% of respondents, while the Marketing Cloud can only boast an 18% adoption to date.

But according to Bluewolf's findings all that might be different by the time of Dreamforce 2015, citing Marketing Cloud and Community Cloud (22% adoption) as being 'on fire'.

Bluewolf's report argues:

Marketing has been the quickest to adopt a digital mindset and address rising customer expectations. Through their leadership, marketing’s influence over company-wide change has grown.

With influence beyond direct customer acquisition, marketing is increasingly responsible for the entire customer experience.

By combining investments in Salesforce and marketing automation, marketers are gaining deeper insight into customer needs and driving new levels of collaboration across the enterprise.

Mature marketers are broadening their efforts, evolving from a sole focus on customer acquisition and onboarding, to measurement of customer engagement data across the customer lifecycle.

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Source: Bluewolf

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Source: Bluewolf

With the Analytics Cloud set to be the showstopper announcement next week at Dreamforce, the Salesforce.com exec team can take heart from the finding that 63% of respondents don't have a single dashboard to measure marketing and sales activities:

Outside of measuring basic website and email metrics, marketers struggle to measure complex metrics within Salesforce, such as content marketing, social activity, and mobile engagement.

Some 93% of marketers have invested in analytics tools, but 56% of these live outside of Salesforce.com. Most encouragingly for Salesforce.com's ambitions, 100% of marketers say they plan to up their investment in analytics.

But in reality, every department plans to invest in better understanding of data:

While extracting insights from data is complex, it is the very thing that enables powerful digital experiences. The companies that will become digital leaders are those able to achieve a holistic view of their customers and deliver relevant, actionable data from disparate systems to employees and customers.

As far as the Sales Cloud goes, the study suggests 3 main areas of growth for the next year:

  • Sales Intelligence - which again plays into the Analytics Cloud announcements coming up next week.
  • Contract Management to enable sales, finance, and legal teams to share one system for generating, signing, and approving contracts.
  • Geolocation apps to help salespeople manage their physical territories.

The report recommends:

Rethink your sales process for the digital era. Understand your sales team’s pain points directly, and empower them with solutions to seize every customer moment. Equip them to stay one step ahead of customers. Whether it’s through selling strategy, mobile technology, or building out custom functionality, efforts will quickly show up in your company’s bottom line.

Ultimately, business outcomes are being recognized and are positive, as the study finds:

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 13.04.45
Source: Bluewolf

My take

As a Salesforce.com specialist, Bluewolf's installed base is a particularly good pulse on which to place a finger when it comes to the health of the Salesforce.com portfolio.

The still relatively low base of the Marketing Cloud is interesting given the enormous profile this push has had for the past year or so. As we noted last month, the ramping up of the Marketing Cloud wars next year should - all things being equal  - produce a different number next year.

Meanwhile this year, the appetite is clearly there for a decent analytics offering, which means that Marc Benioff and team don't need to get the red pen out and start to rethink the keynote too much at this stage.

 

 Disclosure: at time of writing, Salesforce.com is a premier partner of diginomica. 

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