One aspect of being part of the Salesforce ecosystem that’s become increasingly apparent in recent years, is that Salesforce is ready to move into market sectors that were once left to third parties building on its platform.
The push into the Marketing Cloud space or into analytics are cases in point, while the recent acquisition of Demandware puts Salesforce up against its e-commerce partners in the ecosystem.
It’s ‘co-opetition’, would be the popular rationale, but it does inevitably put pressure on those third parties who chose to build for the Salesforce platform.
ServiceMax has now come up against this with Salesforce making its own field service play. When I caught up with CEO Dave Yarnold in London prior to Dreamforce, he was diplomatic about the development, pointing to ServiceMax’s track-record and proven functionality:
We joined the Salesforce ecosystem early on and we’ve built a good business on that. We chose to build on a fantastic platform.
Would he, I wondered, do the same now? Again, Yarnold was equally diplomatic, but did observe:
Given recent developments, a new ISV might have some different considerations to those we had.
Salesforce will be pushing its own Lightning Field Service offering hard throughout the duration of Dreamforce this year, although it’s interesting how many sessions are dedicated to getting started with Lightning, seemingly supporting anecdotal evidence that the Salesforce customer base is taking its time getting on board.
Yarnold emphasizes that ServiceMax is “Lightning-compatible”, but can see that it’s going to take time for Lightning to take hold in the mainstream:
Our technologists think that Lightning is fantastic, but that at the moment it is incomplete. This is the single biggest thing that Salesforce has ever done. It will be really fantastic when it’s done. But it’s a big endeavor for customers to consider.
For Yarnold, Dreamforce this week is a big deal. The sheer scale of the event these days - effectively shutting down San Francisco and with sessions scheduled as far out as Stanford University - is a fantastic networking and sales opportunity that isn’t to be missed.
As a veteran of the conference, ServiceMax got its hotel and meeting rooms booked up early and as such is close to the heart of the action. While the firm has an exhibition stand, Yarnold says the real value comes from the interaction with delegates at the show:
It’s the best event to bring in executives to talk about developments and platforms and business value. There’s more value coming from those meetings really than from just having a presence at the show.
As for the main talking point of this year’s Dreamforce - AI and Einstein - Yarnold is keen to find out more detail about what Salesforce has in mind:
It’s always interesting to hear what the next steps arte. A few years ago we were all talking about the Social Enterprise, this year it’s AI. The promise of AI is really interesting.
Away from Dreamforce, Yarnold has recently been spending time in Japan, a market that’s been a big focus for Salesforce over the years. Like Salesforce, ServiceMax has found that the country brings its own challenges as well as opportunities.
On the plus side, there’s a big interest in all things Internet of Things and a competitive landscape which leads Yarnold to refer jokingly to the country as “Germany without SAP”.
On the challenges side, it’s a country that has a ‘not invented here’ aspect to it which demands both a direct presence by suppliers, which ServiceMax has, but also having strong relationships with domestic partners in-country.
That’s a different challenge to the one faced by US firms moving into, for example, the UK. Yarnold says:
When you fly in from California to do business in the UK, as long as you can demonstrate commitment and intent, then you can do well. In Japan, you need lots of localisation, such as the website, and local partners and lots of customization. It’s a different approach.