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The Top 10 CRM Software Systems in Southeast Asia—Salesforce.com CRM

 

An Independent Review of Salesforce.com in Southeast Asia

Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM) provides hosted applications delivered by SaaS (Software as a Service) that manage customer data for sales, marketing, and customer support, and is used by more than 100,000 clients, with more than 7,000 in the Asia Pacific region, that reside in a variety of industries, including financial services, telecommunications, manufacturing, and entertainment.

Originally known for its SaaS Sales Force Automation (SFA) software, the suite broadened to include the three pillars of Customer Relationship Management software, and through expanding strategies and company acquisitions, has since moved rapidly into Platform as a Service (PaaS) and the "Social Enterprise Arena."

CRM Software Suite

The company's Customer Relationship Management software products include the following:

  • Salesforce.com Sales Cloud, for sales force automation and contact management
  • Salesforce.com Service Cloud, for case management and customer support
  • Salesforce.com Chatter, a secured social network and context relevant push-based activity monitor
  • Radian6, for social media monitoring and engagement
  • Data.com, a socially sourced contact data append service
  • AppExchange, a online ecosystem and marketplace for enterprise cloud apps
  • Force.com, for custom application development
  • Heroku, a development environment for building social and mobile applications
  • Database.com, a cloud database
  • Salesforce.com Rypple, an HR feedback app, an entry into the larger HCM software market

The company's visionary thinking and pioneering efforts clearly paid big dividends and gave Salesforce.com an early jump into a green field opportunity. However, cloud CRM competition has grown dramatically. Cowen analyst Peter Goldmacher notes, "Salesforce had years of unfettered opportunity in front of it because the competition was caught flat footed and marginally interested in Software as a Service. Fast forward ten years: Oracle and Microsoft are 100% engaged and [Salesforce.com] CRM's open field run is over. Additionally, open source provider SugarCRM is offering a compelling, lower cost alternative at the low end of the market. It is hard for us to imagine Salesforce enjoying a sustainable growth rate in the high-20%/low-30% range given the market maturity and change in competitive landscape. One other important point to consider is the fact that the competition is pricing its products at about half of Salesforce's price, and the average customer uses less than 20% of the functionality in the product thereby reducing switching costs, especially at the low end."

The CRM software supports multi-currency management, multiple time zones, regional editions and 16 languages. Mobility is supported on the BlackBerry, Droid and iOS (iPhone and iPad) platforms with both mobile operating system specific editions and an HTML5 specification.

Salesforce.com pricing varies greatly depending upon the products selected. The Professional edition begins at USD $65 per user per month, the Enterprise edition begins at USD $125 per user per month and the Unlimited edition begins at USD $250 per user per month. Additional fees are charged for additional products, such as Radian6 or Data.com. Subscriptions are sold pursuant to annual contracts.

Southeast Asia Support

The Asia Pacific regional headquarters is in Singapore, which includes just over 100 employees and covers the Asia Pacific region excluding Japan. Salesforce.com manages a separate office in Tokyo for Japan.

The first ever Salesforce.com User Group Meet-Up in Singapore was held in November 2011 and followed by a Salesforce.com nonprofit user group meeting, also held in Singapore, in March 2012. These regional user group meetings may become annual events. The company also normally includes a one day stop in Singapore for its annual CloudForce global tour.

There are over 400 Salesforce.com Business Consulting partners, of which, 19 show support in the East Asia region. However, given the company's global reach it is surprising to find that there are only five consulting partners in Southeast Asia, with four in Singapore and one in the Philippines.

Asia Pacific consulting partners can be found here on the AppExchange, but a word of warning for those looking for partners in Southeast Asia. This vibrant and dynamic region has been combined together with China, Japan etc. into East Asia, which makes it difficult to find a local partner. The lack of regional consulting partners and the confusing terminology of East Asia is all rather odd for a company which has its Asia Pacific regional headquarters in Singapore. A local partner commented that this practice may be in part because Salesforce.com would prefer potential clients to contact them directly rather than through partners.

For users in South East Asia the CRM software is available in English and Thai.

CRM Software Cloud Delivery

Salesforce.com has its APAC data center in Singapore, however, its unclear whether this serves all Asia Pacific customers or whether it also acts as a backup while certain customers are served from the company's San Francisco data center. The company provides online cloud delivery performance measurements, status monitoring and notices of scheduled downtime at http://trust.salesforce.com.

Unfortunately and surprisingly, the company provides a cloud Service Level Agreement (SLA) to very few customers. In fact, unless specifically negotiated (and you are a large company), you will likely not get an SLA from Salesforce.com.

Salesforce.com Strengths

  • With a local presence in Singapore the company is making investments and acquiring customers in the Southeast Asia region. From our review, we found most Salesforce.com customers in the region are located in Singapore, followed by Malaysia and the Philippines.
  • The AppExchange provides a high number of vertical market and specialty add-on products. While it offers many geo-specific solutions, there are still few geo-specific solutions for Southeast Asia.
  • The Sales Force Automation (SFA) and customer service software is competitively strong in the cloud CRM marketplace.
  • The Force.com PaaS and development environment allows partners and customers to customise and extend the solution for unique business processes or feature requirements.
  • Salesforce.com is a market leader in cloud CRM, and is truly innovative. The company's advancements in mobile CRM and social CRM oftentimes set the pace for the rest of the industry.

Salesforce.com Weaknesses

  • The company's operations and customer base are not nearly as mature in Southeast Asia as other regions.
  • When reviewing core CRM software capabilities it becomes apparent that Salesforce.com is the highest priced product in the SaaS CRM industry. For example, even the lower end Professional Edition pricing begins at USD $7800 per year for a 10 user agreement. This can be a considerable investment for an SMB in ASEAN.
  • The company's marketing software and marketing cloud is competitively weak. Salesforce has tried to position Radian6 as the foundation for a Marketing Cloud, but even though Radian6 is an strong cloud monitoring solution, it brings exceedingly little (if any real) marketing capabilities and such positioning is not credible and does not deliver the marketing automation capabilities marketers are looking for.
  • The absence of a hosting SLA can be a non-starter for some companies seeking SaaS CRM solutions.
  • Salesforce.com does not operate in a public cloud environment (i.e. customers cannot run on any cloud except the Salesforce.com cloud). For example, if customers extend their CRM software through Force.com enhancements or customizations, those investments are not portable and will be lost if they ever move to a different application or cloud provider.

Short List Salesforce.com CRM Software When:

  • You are a midsize company seeking an easy to use and market leading cloud CRM software product.
  • You seek a best of breed Customer Relationship Management solution.
  • You desire a local business partner in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore or Thailand.
  • You desire leading social CRM tools.

Consider Alternative CRM Software When:

  • You seek an on-premise or private cloud solution, or you feel you may change software delivery methods from cloud/SaaS to on-premises or vice versa.
  • You require a hosting Service Level Agreement backed up with a financial guarantee.
  • You you want a vendor-managed, and integrated CRM and accounting or ERP system.
  • Budget is tight, cost of entry is important and you seek a solution with a low total cost of ownership (TCO).

Next—SugarCRM in Asia Review >>

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