Dreamforce 2019 - Bluewolf's State of Salesforce 2020 report says look inward for value

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan November 18, 2019
Bluewolf's State of Salesforce report is out with more insights into the current adoption and usage trends in the Salesforce user community.


It’s Dreamforce week, so it must be time for the annual State of Salesforce study. Based on 190,000+ data points collected  from 2,100+ global Salesforce customers, this is the 8th year that Bluewolf - now a division of IBM - has published its report into who’s doing how much with what in the Salesforce world.

The story this year is about being at a technology inflection point whereby ‘outside-in’ digital transformation is giving way to ‘inside-out’ organizational transformation. The companies on the bleeding edge of this shift are pitched as Cognitive Enterprises, another phrase to add to the IBM marketing lexicon.

In terms of broad trends identified in the Bluewolf study, four emerge.

A 360 degree view of customer built on integration, with 90% of IT respondents citing integrating data sources as top priority for investment and 88% naming provision of the 360 degree customer view. With Salesforce having acquired Mulesoft, the study finds that 16% of respondents have already adopted its integration tech while over half (54%) say they plan to add Mulesoft to the mix. Of those who use Mulesoft, over two-thirds (67%) say they are satisfied with their IT team’s effectiveness. Commerce Cloud customers are the most enthusiastic Mulesoft adopters, with a third already users (33%) and 59% saying they plan to invest.

A scaling up of AI use, with 83% of those respondents piloting AI projects reckoning to ‘fire in anger’ within 18 months. Some 77% of executives see customer satisfaction as the reason for making AI investments, followed by customer retention, cited by 70% of respondents. Some 70% of “the best IT teams” scaling AI to bolster employee knowledge, 65% to improve analytics and 64% to populate machine learning libraries.

Sales Cloud user cases for AI include automatic surfacing of leads most likely to close (83%), insight into customer propensity to buy (79%), market intelligence on prospects (77%), action alerts (72%) and next step suggestions (68%).

Commerce Cloud users are AI enthusiasts with 72% saying they use some form of AI tech and 42% specifically citing Commerce Cloud Einstein. Use cases identified for AI include pricing optimization (52% of Commerce Cloud users), demand forecasting (45%) and personalized product assortment (44%).

Meanwhile over a quarter of marketers (27%) currently use Marketing Cloud Einstein with a further 47% saying they have plans to invest here. AI use cases for marketers are topped by content generation (65%), website personalization (64%) and social media monitoring (61%).

Mobile, mobile, mobile. Nearly three-quarters of sales personnel (73%) are currently stuck behind a desktop computer, with only 8% using a mobile device to sell. With the arrival of 5G, the desire is for that balance to shift dramatically. The report argues:

Sellers who have a mobile-optimized experience on-hand are free to engage with customers more because the information they need is at their fingertips. Mobile has the potential to fundamentally change how sellers accomplish essential Salesforce activities, as well as the speed and duration of their sales cycles. As Generation Z enters the workforce, demand for mobile-first, connected, personalized experiences will become a standard expectation in the workplace, just as it has become in our personal lives.

Some 64% of study respondents currently use Salesforce Mobile with 89% of them reckoning to expand their adoption. Of the 36% who aren’t Mobile users at present, half say they will be. Over a quarter of sales users (28%) say they are as productive on mobile devices as they are on a desktop, while 62% say they want to do more on mobile to boost their productivity.

24/7 Salesforce management goes mainstream as Salesforce tech becomes mission critical to organizations. The report explains:

Where once 24/7 management for Salesforce was uncommon, it’s quickly becoming a new expectation—impacting the broader ecosystem, as well as the teams, partners, and companies that surround it.

That said, IT respondents are split on whether 24/7 management is really a necessity, with 53% unconvinced. Given that this is an area that directly impacts services firms like Bluewolf, it’s not surprising that the clams is made that IT teams that have delivered on their ROI targets for Salesforce, more than two-thirds (67%) use a third party consulting firm.


As with the 2019 State of Salesforce findings, Commerce Cloud use is a driver for multiple cloud adoption with some 82% of commerce customers also using Sales Cloud. 76% Marketing Cloud and 67% Service Cloud, while over half (51%) use Sales, Marketing and Service Clouds.

Consolidation of Salesforce instances is a prevailing trend, driven by factors such as a desire to replace or integrate legacy systems or to implement additional Salesforce clouds. Additional drivers including providing management with centralized dashboards and delivering support for standardized processes.

Adoption of Lightning Experience has stepped up, with 45% of respondents having made the move compared to 33% last year. That said, last year’s study had a further third confidently stating they’d make the transition by now, so something has slowed down somewhere. This year, 38% reckon to be “planning to switch” but with no timetable cited, while the good news for Salesforce is that only 16% say they have no plans to move.

This year’s study highlights Salesforce’s investments in the DevOps field and the challenge customers face in aligning traditional enterprise DevOps with Salesforce DevOps. According to the report, 49% of top performing respondents are have Salesforce Native DevOps strategies, while 21% take the enterprise approach and 30% have a hybrid policy. Agile methodologies are also a priority with nearly half of respondents (49%), with only 14% sticking with older waterfall approaches. A quarter of IT teams currently take a hybrid approach.

A theme that has been prominent in previous State of Salesforce reports has been the importance of cross function data sharing to boost marketing success. But as of now, less than half of Marketing Cloud users (43%) can state that they have a shared, single view of the customer across multiple channels, although two-thirds (66%) boast that they can engage with customers in real-time across more than one marketing channel. Those marketers who have access to both Marketing Cloud and Sales Cloud have more success on building a single view, but it’s still only just over half of respondents (54%)

My take

Another interesting snapshot of, as it says on the tin, the state of Salesforce adoption and use.

My frustration remains the same as last year however. The polling base still does not reflect the regional breakdown of Salesforce’s business, with 84% of respondents coming from the US compared to 7% each from EMEA - up 1% on last year - and Asia Pac - up 3% on 2029. While that does reflect the breakdown of revenue contributions, it’s not in proportion. For the most recent quarter, while the US accounted for the largest (by far) amount of earnings, EMEA provided 20% of the global total. And EMEA and Asia Pac’s growth rates - 25% and 26% year-on-year - outstrip the US’s 20%.

It would be welcome if next year’s study could broaden its international footprint to provide a more accurate overall picture.

That said, as ever, The State of Salesforce 2020 is still worth a detailed look.

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