Salesforce Strengths and Weaknesses
Competitive positioning in the cloud CRM market is highlighted with the following strengths and weaknesses.
- The most recent CRM market share analysis report shows Salesforce as the clear market leader and increasing the distance over the rest of the pack.
- The company is a proven innovator. This strength alone separates Salesforce.com from much of its competition and provides increased payback for customers.
- Salesforce promotes a vibrant user community. The company uses its own Ideas solution to solicit community input, actively monitors social networks and provides online venues for customers to make themselves heard. Too often CRM software companies don't actually practice the Customer Relationship Management they speak of, however, Salesforce.com clearly walks the walk.
- The Salesforce user interface maximizes consumer technologies to deliver a simple and rewarding user experience. This has delivered a profound effect in achieving user adoption.
- Salesforce.com is championing social CRM and delivering the technology for its customers to achieve social CRM business objectives.
- The company's combination of Salesforce1, Force.com, PaaS tools and AppExchange lead the cloud CRM industry in terms of CRM integration, software customization, third party extensibility and ecosystem.
- The company's growth continues to amaze. In addition to revenue growth, Salesforce reported 18 straight quarters of declining customer attrition rates driven in large part by increased utilization of the Salesforce CRM software suite and greater customization using the Salesforce1 platform.
- As Salesforce continues its transition from a CRM software company to a platform company, several CRM competitors have superseded Salesforce's CRM features, functions and capabilities.
- Unlike primary competitors such as Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, SAP CRM, SugarCRM and others whom offer both choice in deployment (on-premise, on-demand or a hybrid combination) as well as choice in cloud platform (vendor cloud, private cloud or public cloud), Salesforce.com does not support public clouds (i.e. Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace, etc.) which limits hosting options, prevents portability, threatens IT investment and significantly increases exit costs. For example, Salesforce.com customers who choose to extend their CRM software solution with custom development created with a single vendor tool set (Force.com or Salesforce1) and which only operates on one cloud will likely not be able to transfer and protect that investment if they choose to leave Salesforce.com.
- The Salesforce customer base is predominantly B2B. The CRM software is not nearly as well oriented to the B2C industry.
- Salesforce CRM is also without sophisticated business intelligence (BI). Customers seeking data warehousing, data mining, online analytical processing (OLAP) or predictive analytics will need to procure third party solutions from AppExchange or elsewhere. The company is making headway with its Wave analytics, but this solution is underwhelming. The company is also evangelizing its Einstein artificial intelligence (AI), however, the hype seems to be well ahead of results.
- Despite an initial thrust and acceptance in the small business market, small business customers repeatedly opine that support and professional services options are few and extremely costly. For small business customers that require software customization, system integration or other professional services, the lack of channel options, combined with the lack of desire for smaller projects by the few partners available, leave this customer segment without many options.
- Unlike competitors such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Salesforce does not permit users to have multiple roles. This can cause both security management and user experience challenges for companies with multiple lines of business or geographies accessing the same CRM system.
- When reviewing features to features its apparent that Salesforce.com is the highest priced product in the cloud CRM industry.
- Salesforce becomes less competitive when looking beyond CRM software as a point solution. For companies seeking broader business software suites, including back office accounting or ERP systems, the inconsistency and relatively shallow integrations delivered with third party AppExchange vendors do not stand up well to single vendor cloud solutions from competitors such as Microsoft Dynamics, NetSuite and SAP Business ByDesign.
- The company operates fewer international data centers than many of its competitors. This can impact user performance (latency, hops, jitter, etc.) as well as pose regulatory concerns with regard to data privacy and government compliance. This may make Salesforce.com less appealing for customers that get progressively further away from the U.S.
- Surprisingly, Salesforce.com generally does not provide a SaaS Service Level Agreement (SLA) unless the customer requests and negotiates it. Even then, SLAs are inconsistent from customer to customer and fall below uptime guarantees of most other cloud CRM competitors.
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When reviewing features to features its apparent that Salesforce.com is the highest priced CRM product in the SaaS industry.