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Salesforce.com Evaluation and Review

Salesforce.com CRM System Review

By Martin Shifley, May 2008

 

What can be said about Salesforce.com that the company hasn't already said about itself? Founded in 1999 by former Oracle executive Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com has become the on-demand CRM software market share leader. The company is largely known for its flamboyant and controversial leader who seems to be either regarded as a visionary or a blowhard depending upon who you are speaking with. The company's use of guerilla marketing tactics, near limitless marketing spend and frequent gifts for industry media and analysts have earned it an interesting and mixed reputation - from being referred to as the next Google to being referred to as the SaaS industry bad boy.

 

Since beginning its corporate life as a customer relationship management system, the larger than life company is aggressively seeking a new direction away from focused business applications and toward platform applications - and as is traditional with Salesforce.com, the company has invented its own marketing term of "platform as a service" (PAAS) in order to create, define and own the business sector it seeks to serve.

 

While the Salesforce.com CRM application is not the strongest in the online CRM software industry, the company downplays the limited value of commercial off the shelf business systems and instead attempts to expand the value proposition with a comprehensive third party directory called AppExchange and a proprietary programming environment called Force. The growth of AppExchange has been impressive, however, the integration between AppExchange products and Salesforce.com seems trivial, giving the appearance that the third party solutions are using AppExchange as just an additional sales outlet. Force is a very respectable development environment, however, getting the development community to part with open and industry standard development tools such as Java or .NET and move to a proprietary development environment is of questionable motive and no easy task.

 

The company segments its flagship product among a few different editions. The Salesforce.com Team edition is a scaled down workgroup edition priced at USD $995.00 per year for five users. The Professional Edition is also a scaled down version and is priced at USD $65.00 per user per month. Enterprise Edition seems to be the most popular and is priced at USD $125.00 per user per month. Finally, the Unlimited Edition is priced at USD $195.00 per user per month. One of these last two editions are normally required if an AppExchange product is necessary.

 

While the company's growth has sky rocketed, there have been some serious bumps in the road along the way. A series of intermittent system interruptions have plagued the software's system uptime assurance, however, the company continues to make strides in more redundant data centers and improving upon historical performance. Salesforce.com was also hacked resulting in the compromise of thousands of customers' personal information. Again, the company appears to have taken steps to curtail this event from occurring again.

 

While the company faces many on-demand software competitors, Salesforce.com's primary competitors include NetSuite at the low end, Aplicor in the mid-market and SAP's Business ByDesign at the enterprise level. Salesforce.com's strengths include its never before witnessed marketing push, strong brand recognition, reasonable ease of use, good online product documentation and array of programming tools to customize and integrate the product.

 

Salesforce.com disadvantages include high recurring subscription costs, mixed customer support reviews and a lack of feature sets and functionality that forces users to pay extra for AppExchange products or pay for customization tools (and programmers) to accomplish what several other SaaS CRM systems deliver out of the box.

 

Salesforce.com CRM Review Update Next Quarter We'll be performing another more detailed Salesforce.com software review and updating this page following the next release.

 

  Salesforce.com Inc.


1 Market Street

Suite 300

San Francisco, California 94105

USA

Telephone: (415) 901-7000

Email: info@salesforce.com

Web: www.salesforce.com

 

Marc Benioff CEO Salesforce.com
Marc Benioff, CEO Salesforce.com

 

Benioff is regarded as the self proclaimed leader of what he has termed "The End of Software," the belief that multi-tenant, on-demand applications democratize information by delivering immediate benefits with reduced risks and costs. Under Benioff's leadership, the company has grown from a visionary idea into a publicly traded company that is the market leader in software as a service and on-demand business services.

 

Prior to founding salesforce.com, Benioff spent 13 years at Oracle Corporation from 1986-1999. Prior to Oracle he worked as an assembly language programmer in Apple Computer’s Macintosh Division. In 1979 at the age of 15, he started an entertainment software company called Liberty Software. Benioff received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Southern California in 1986.