Dreamforce: outages, earnings and where the punters are spending

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan November 16, 2013
So, sat here on Dreamforce-eve - it’s a new national holiday up there with Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve! - there are a couple of things to mention before the mayhem really kicks off.

So, sat here on Dreamforce Eve - it’s a new US national holiday up there with Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve! - there are a couple of things to mention before the mayhem really kicks off.

Firstly, an outage across part of North America and much of Europe on Friday really wasn’t the best start to a week in which we’re going to hear how safe it is for enterprises to ship their business over the to the cloud.

Especially so when it seems that the reason for the unplanned outage was planned maintenance of the network.

Seven out of 17 instances in North America were affected, as were two out of four in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. Only the two instances in the Asia Pacific region escaped what was a near 3 hour outage for some folks.

Bad timing and the resulting Twitter criticism from punters isn’t a great start to what should be a celebratory week.

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It will be interesting to see if this is referenced at all during the keynotes later in the week. There is surely a positive spin that can be woven in terms of how Salesforce.com managed the outage and the restoration of service. Or will it be tactfully overlooked?

Personally I think the company should face it down head on. The customers at the show will all be talking about it in the mixers - “How long were you down?” - so having a story to tell is going to be important.

Earnings and spending

It could also feature in the earnings call on Monday afternoon when Salesforce.com delivers its third quarter numbers. The second quarter figures were impacted by higher costs, so the consensus expectation on Wall Street is that the third quarter data will be upbeat.

Analysts expect the company to narrow quarterly losses and announce earnings of $0.09 per share on revenue of $1.05 billion for the quarter. Dennis will be picking up analysis of the numbers on Monday afternoon.

On an upbeat note, some helpful positivity out of Salesforce.com consulting firm Bluewolf in its second State of Salesforce.com report.

Now, clearly as a firm that specialises in Salesforce.com implementations, it’s going to come as no surprise that the study of 450 business and technology leaders in North America, Europe, and Australia would conclude that cloud in general and Salesforce.com in particular is the way to go.

So it is that it finds that 73% of those polled report that their organisations are re-allocating funds from on-premise activities and putting them into cloud budgets, while 69% say that they have plans to increase their Salesforce.com-related spend. For context, 86% of the surveyed companies were using either the enterprise or unlimited editions of Salesforce.

But the report - conducted with the MIT Sloan School of Management - does give some insight into where the sweet spots are in the ever widening Salesforce.com pantheon.

Customers and mobility

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Dovetailing with Salesforce.com’s own reinvention as The Customer Company, the Bluewolf study finds that customer engagement has supplanted productivity as the key driver of growth among respondents with 60% of them saying that it is their top priority and that they are measured on increasing engagement levels.

The report states:

Every employee must be empowered to recognize a customer engagement opportunity and to deliver on it. Internal silos must become invisible and  information needs to flow freely between departments. Employees need to be empowered with data that enables them to solve customer problems and forge lasting customer relationships.

Mobile is set to pick up a lot of that increased Salesforce.com-related spend referenced above with 52% of respondents already having or planning to build a custom mobile application that integrates with their CRM platform, while 72% of sales-types reckon they need to be able to access real-time information via a mobile device to do their jobs.

While 52% of respondents say they have built or are planning to build a custom mobile application on the Salesforce platform, 63% say they plan to invest in off-the-shelf mobile applications businesses. If you're about to make a investment in this direction, the current breakdown of adoption of such apps is:

  • Salesforce Classic: 44%
  • Chatter: 42%
  • Salesforce Touch: 23%
  • Third-party mobile applications: 30%

That said, the report does observe:

While demand is high, daily usage is low, indicating that Salesforce.com customers are still experimenting or lack a comprehensive enterprise mobile strategy.

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As for the AppExchange where customers can find such apps, according to the report, 91% of respondents have at least one AppExchange application installed while 29% have at least five AppExchange apps.

Inevitably this is largely a study in which Salesforce.com users say they are happy with the choices they’ve made, but it does provide a glimpse into the priorities of such customers.

Now let’s see if the Dreamforce messaging maps on to these conclusions.


Graphics: Bluewolf/MIT Sloane School of Management 

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

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