Google is hyping the fact they’ve exceeded 50 billion installs from their popular app store, GooglePlay. Yes, that is an impressive accomplishment. But as the Salesforce AppExchange - the world’s biggest shopping mall for business apps in the cloud - quietly approaches nearly 2 million enterprise app installs (did I just say Salesforce and quietly in the same sentence?) I can’t help but think this an equally amazing accomplishment on a B2B scale versus a consumer scale.
Salesforce.com has a lot to crow about these days, but lost in the flurry of acquisitions, product announcements, and of course the Bromance, that steady, healthy growth of the AppExchange is demonstrating there’s a strong need for a cloud marketplace for business apps. Let’s face it, the business world is changing. Employees are using apps everywhere in their personal lives, and have come to expect the same application accessibility at work. It’s the businesses that take advantage of this new world that are boosting productivity like never before. Perhaps, the AppExchange is a success story that just doesn’t get the market attention it deserves.
We’ve started a list of the biggest reasons we think the AppExchange is succeeding and under hyped. What do you think?
- It embodies transparency. Is there any other corporate or business app marketplace where you can access thousands of user reviews, see the number of downloads and install an enterprise app in minutes? It is a shiny example of the consumerization of enterprise IT. In retrospect, the old way of buying enterprise application software seems incredibly secretive and a cloak and dagger approach by comparison.
- Plug and Play is reality! Apps built natively on the Salesforce Platform can share common components with other native apps, e.g. objects, database, logins, UIs, Chatter, workflow, etc. Other cloud platforms might share common tools underneath, but you are unlikely to see the application integration, record sharing, a single reporting database, common administration and unified toolsets that form a truly holistic environment for users. Master file data management is a non issue for native apps and it is dead simple environment for users. No wonder it is working. .
- It is a treasure trove of functionality. Applications on the AppExchange range from point solutions to full blown professional services automation apps like ours. To date there are 1,909 apps addressing a wide variety of business problems, whether it’s document management, sales commissions or a full blown back office operation. You will find killer functions that you didn’t even know existed.
- Every app goes through a rigorous security review: As an AppExchange partner, developers leverage salesforce.com’s investment in security and certifications. But to list an app, you have to endure a security review which is a good thing for users. This creates a high level of confidence and trust about any app you install into your org. You can rest assure any app you list or access here supports the highest level of security best practices and is clean as a whistle. This was difficult to execute and administer in past generations of platform ecosystems, but salesforce.com has figured it out in the cloud.
- More like Amazon - less like Google. The clean structure and organization of the AppExchange listings makes it simple to find, understand, and qualify the apps and how they will fit into your business. Every app listing is structured the same so you know where to go for demos, reviews, product info, specs, etc. You can even find what other apps companies have downloaded a la Amazon. It is purpose built for business apps, unlike broad Google searches that can be cluttered and overwhelming.
- Apps, careers, companies, (and dreams) are literally built there. The AppExchange is an incubator for new apps apps and ideas. It is a place where young companies have been built and are now thriving. To date, Salesforce claims that more 50,000 developer orgs have been provisioned with more than 480 companies delivering those nearly 2,000 apps to the market. To get a better feel for the health and energy of this ecosystem, check out the Dreamforce exhibitor floor this November. Salesforce.com is nearly doubling the floor space for app vendors and expects more than 100,000 attendees.
- It’s a start-up’s fantasyland, aka one-stop-shop - Imagine being a start-up today where you could literally run your entire business on one platform where every front-office and back-office app were talking to each other (and getting along!). I am sure there are plenty of companies out there saying, “if we could do it all over again...”
So when the AppExchange hits 2 million installs, and 2,000 apps, it will be a significant milestone of the cloud era and a strong indicator of where we’re headed.
In the past, hardware and software platforms were measured by the size of the application ecosystems that developed on them. In the cloud era, salesforce.com is the first company to make this notion fly to the point where business people, and not just technical people, can easily grasp value. This is a welcome advance in the history of computing.
To some extent, the cloud was in danger of devolving the notion of platforms because many application providers built their own application islands on top of generic platforms, causing application integration, database and tool proliferation issues. Cloud stacks replaced on-premise stacks. Salesforce.com has managed to meld the platform together at the user, application and data levels in a way that is more powerful than ever achieved before.
For this, salesforce.com deserves all the hype.
Do you agree? What are you using from the AppExchange?
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