Cloud CRM company Salesforce.com has a new industry-specific strategy to help drive its own growth and popularity to the next level. With its new Industries Business Unit in place, Salesforce plans to target a number of vertical markets individually with optimized solutions for customer relationship management (CRM), sales automation, and social marketing, offering both mobile and cloud-connected services.
The first six vertical markets that Salesforce plans to tackle include financial services & insurance; health care & life sciences; retail & consumer products; communications & media; automotive & manufacturing; and the public sector.
Why an Industries Business Unit -- and why now? Salesforce points out that with the Internet of Things (IoT), the world is becoming completely connected. Millions of new products, apps and devices from every industry are connecting to the Internet every day. That brings new opportunities as well as new challenges for customer service and sales organizations.
In fact, Salesforce projects there will be more than 50 billion connected things, from smartphones and wearable smart devices to jet engines and cars by 2020. Beyond every product, app and device, the company points out, there is a customer. As Salesforce sees it, the world is moving not just toward an Internet of Things, but even more so toward an Internet of Customers, an era where CRM and customer relationship management is more important than ever.
A Huge Opportunity
Salesforce president and vice chairman Keith Block says the company is looking to grow to $10 billion and beyond. He expects the new industry-specific strategy will help Salesforce.com achieve that goal by expanding its footprint with existing customers and also by helping reach new enterprise customers.
The company is leveraging its popular Salesforce1 customer platform to power the Industries Business Unit. Salesforce markets its platform as a way for companies to implement new solutions, and eliminate the costly operational expenses that many legacy, on-premise software solutions demand.
The new vertical-market strategy also depends on a team of industry experts, developing a partner ecosystem, and creating solutions that tackle major challenges in each of the six sectors Salesforce has identified.
“Entire industries are seeing the power of social, mobile and connected cloud technologies up-end decades-long business models. This is no small disruption; it’s a complete re-imagination of industries,” explains Vivek Kundra, executive vice president of Industries at Salesforce.com. “We’ve only just begun to see the transformational power of the Salesforce1 Platform and the innovative, scalable industry solutions."
Proper IoT Alignment
We caught up with Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research, to get his take on the new Salesforce initiative. He agrees that the Internet of Things will be initially driven by a handful of verticals.
“Certainly, state and local government is a huge vertical for the Internet of Things. When you look at the other verticals Salesforce is focusing on, you’ll see the commonality is massive amounts of data,” Kerravala said “These are the verticals I would expect to see lead the IoT trend and it’s prudent for Salesforce to align itself with."
Kerravala points out that Cisco has also aligned its IoT initiatives to meet the needs of certain industries, and he expects other companies trying to capitalize on this IoT trend to follow suit.