When is the best time to move on from a familiar name that you've outgrown? FinancialForce, which started out providing a SaaS business finance app built natively on the Salesforce platform, but has since grown a significant business providing professional services automation to services organizations, has decided that its time is now. Today it becomes Certinia, a name it believes better aligns with its current Services-as-a-Business (SaaB) offering. Scott Brown, CEO, says:
We really outgrew our name at the end of the day. This is the opportunity for us to reset in the marketplace who we are today and everything that we aspire to be.
The venture originally launched in 2008 as a cloud-native product from accounting software firm Coda under the name Coda2Go, one of the small band of ISVs that were the first to build their applications natively on the Salesforce platform, and soon span out as FinancialForce.com with a supporting investment from Salesforce. It added its flagship professional services automation capability in 2010 and more recently has expanded its product footprint to include services estimation, customer success management and planning and analysis. Brown says that its old name no longer did justice to the full extent of that offering:
The name FinancialForce was great when we were an ERP system on Force.com. The company we are today, if you look at [our] portfolio, it's almost confusing to have financials in our name and for folks to not understand everything that we do in this platform for services businesses. So this was really about catching up to the company that we are today. And where we want to go.
Certainty and connecting the dots
So why Certinia? It's all about evoking the concept of certainty, as Brown explains:
Multibillion dollar businesses run on our platform today. They need certainty in their outcomes, relative to what they're delivering for their customers, the projects that they're delivering, all the capabilities that they're delivering.
We are the financial system of record in addition to being the services system of record. You need a system of record to give you certainty — certainty on your project delivery, certainty on your margin, certainty on your utilization and your people development — certainty, ultimately, in the customer experience that you deliver for them each and every day.
Equally important is the iconography of the two dots over the 'i's in the name, connected by a bar, which is designed to evoke the end-to-end nature of the Certinia offering. He adds:
We are today providing an entire platform end-to-end, from opportunity to renewal. In the old days you knew us as ERP, and then ERP and PSA. Today, we span the entire lifecycle, all the way from quoting services and opportunity to delivering and renewing those services, and everything that fits in between.
The change of name "in no way shape or form" changes the relationship with Salesforce, he adds, whose executives have been "incredibly supportive."
I was around back in 2008 for the debut of FinancialForce, then named Coda2Go, and in 2013 the company was one of diginomica's five launch partners, exactly ten years ago in a few days' time. So the name has a personal attachment for me, but at the same time there's a clear logic to this renaming. Under Scott Brown's leadership since he became CEO in 2020 the company has doubled down on its offerings for services companies, creating new products for services estimation and customer success, as well as extending its portfolio into planning and analysis through acquisition. While the inclusion of a Salesforce-native financials application is still a unique and distinctive attribute, it no longer defines the company in the way that it did when it first launched.
The growing focus on services companies also reflects wider trends in SaaS, as the initial focus on horizontal applications has now given way across the board to more of a vertical industry focus. It's fitting therefore that one of the first Salesforce-native ISVs is following that trajectory from a broadly focused cloud ERP offering to one that's more vertically focused on the services industry — although that's still a broad category given the ongoing march of servitization in many sectors.
It's perhaps also not a coincidence that the company embraces its third name under its third CEO. Founding CEO Jeremy Roche presided over its brief inception as Coda2Go and then led FinancialForce until handing over the CEO reins to Microsoft and Salesforce alumnus Tod Nielsen in 2017. Nielsen intensified the focus on services businesses, and initiated a branding change but without a change of name. Now Brown has completed this phase of the company's evolution and promises much more to come in its new guise as Certinia.