While Salesforce didn’t shout from the rooftops about its recent decision to acquire the "living document" platform provider Quip, it clearly sees big potential in integrating Quip's offerings into its own.
Quip, a four-year-old San Francisco-based tech firm with just about 40 employees, is on track to become a wholly owned subsidiary of Salesforce, which is paying an estimated $750 million for the company.
Since news of the transaction emerged with Salesforce's August 1 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company has said little more about its plans. But Quip's platform promises to bring significant value to sales and marketing activities.
Founded in 2012 by Facebook and Google veterans on a mission to "redefine productivity software," Quip offers a cloud-based platform for "helping organization work less dumb," the company said on its Web site. Its software enables business users to create living documents where they can share content, spreadsheet data, links, updates and chats from a single hub.
Quip's 'Living Documents'
"As part of Salesforce, we will be able to expand our service more quickly and reach millions of people all over the world -- which has been our mission since day one," Quip CEO Bret Taylor and head of engineering Kevin Gibbs wrote in a blog post when the acquisition was announced. By combining forces with Salesforce, "the possibilities of mixing data, content and communication are amazing," they said.
Before launching Quip, Taylor was the CTO of Facebook and Gibbs was the tech lead for Google's App Engine. Taylor is also a veteran of Google, where he started the Developer product group.
Quip launched the first version of its flagship offering in July 2013. At the time, Taylor and Gibbs described it as a "modern word processor that enables you to create beautiful documents on any device -- phones, tablets and the desktop." The company has since updated the platform with a variety of other features, including support for social interactions and search, chat rooms and, most recently, its living documents design.
A living document, "tells you when your colleague updates the sales figures; it buzzes your phone when a task is assigned to you; it’s constantly bubbling with your team’s feedback; it’s always updated with the data you need," Quip staffers Nate Botwick and Edmond Lau wrote in a blog post in February.
'More To Come' After Close
In its SEC filing, Salesforce described Quip as "a next-generation productivity platform designed for teams, combining communication and content to enable collaboration within documents or spreadsheets, on phones, tablets, wearables and the desktop."
A spokesperson for Salesforce told us today that the company was not sharing any further details about the acquisition at this time, but said that there would be more to come following the closing of the sale, which is expected to happen sometime before the end of October.
Salesforce's acquisition of Quip is "not only a shot across the bow at Microsoft (and Google) but has deep implications for the future of the entire colaboration and CRM market," Alex Gorbansky, CEO of the marketing-focused knowledge management firm Docurated wrote in a post on Venture Beat Saturday.
The transaction is a sign of how CRM is converging with collaboration and document management, and of how document management is becoming increasingly relevant to sales, he said.
Online business software provider Zoho has come out with new offerings for multichannel commmunication and marketing-focused email management. The tools are designed to help companies build better relationships with customers who communicate with them in a wide variety of ways.
Released last week, the latest version of Zoho's software for customer relationship management (CRM) features what the company said is the first email client designed specifically for salespeople. Zoho SalesInbox provides marketers with multiple ways to organize email messages according to different sales criteria. It also monitors incoming emails to notify salespeople about important messages that they're expecting.
Zoho CRM 2016 also adds new automated tools for managing tasks and schedules, makes it easier for users to create sales-related games and competitions, and provides a Timeline View feature to help marketers keep track of individual customer interactions over time. The new suite of CRM tools is rolling out to Zoho customers over the next couple of weeks, according to the company.
'Reinventing' Conventional Email
"Email clients remained horizontal for decades," Raju Vegesna, Zoho's chief evangelist, said in a tweet last week. It's the "[f]irst time we are seeing a specialized email client for salespeople in Zoho SalesInbox," he added.
SalesInbox reinvents the conventional email inbox by enabling salespeople to organize messages in ways that prioritize important customers or deals, according to Zoho. In addition to automatically sorting incoming emails based on a user's existing CRM preferences, SalesInbox also supports the creation of dynamic folders for different personalization parameters.
The timeline feature allows marketers to view individual customer interactions over time to identify current and past deals, as well as overdue tasks, social media mentions, support ticket histories and other actions. Zoho SalesInbox also introduces Response Watch, a feature that monitors incoming emails and automatically notifies users if they don't receive replies from key customers within allotted periods of time.
Zoho SalesInbox works with a number of standard email services, including Gmail, Outlook, Exchange, Yahoo! Mail and Zoho Mail.
New Sales Gamification Features
Other features of Zoho CRM include SalesSignals, which provides real-time information about customer actions across multiple channels such as social media or support tickets, and mobile apps for field sales so salespeople can track activities, find prospects and close deals while on the go.
Zoho CRM's interface has also been redesigned to "minimize the processes involved in sales" and make it easier for reps to filter customer data in a variety of ways. A new Page Layouts feature, for instance, lets a user organize multiple products and processes under a single CRM account for better management across sales cycles, the company said.
Another addition with this release is Gamescope, designed to enable sales managers and other users to create team-focused contests and games that award points, trophies or badges for sales calls, closed deals and other accomplishments. The new tool complements Zoho Motivator, the sales-promoting gamification software launched by the company last fall.
With the Zoho Marketplace, salespeople using Zoho CRM can also add extensions for a variety of other third-party cloud applications such as DocuSign, Eventbrite, MailChimp, SurveyMonkey and Zendesk.
Zoho CRM is available for free for up to 10 users, with standard edition pricing after that starting at $12 per user per month. Zoho SalesInbox is currently available to existing customers by request.
In its continued push to provide more cloud-based services to its customers, enterprise software giant Oracle announced on July 28 it plans to acquire "the very first cloud company," NetSuite, for $9.3 billion in cash.
The companies have a shared history dating back to when NetSuite was founded in 1998 as NetLedger. Established as a provider of Web-hosted software for accounting, NetLedger was launched with the support of $125 million from Oracle founder and now-chairman/CTO Larry Ellison.
Described as Oracle's largest acquisition since its $10.3 billion purchase of PeopleSoft in 2005, the addition of NetSuite is expected to immediately boost Oracle's earnings, according to co-CEO Safra Catz. In May, Oracle announced two other cloud services acquisitions, purchasing the construction-focused firm Textura for $663 million and the utilities-focused Opower for $532 million.
Oracle, NetSuite to 'Coexist Forever'
"Oracle and NetSuite cloud applications are complementary, and will coexist in the marketplace forever," Mark Hurd, Oracle's other co-CEO said today in a statement. "We intend to invest heavily in both products -- engineering and distribution."
Zach Nelson, NetSuite's CEO, added that the acquisition will enable his company to "benefit from Oracle's global scale and reach to accelerate the availability of our cloud solutions in more industries and more countries."
Expected to close later this year, the transaction could net Ellison $3.5 billion in personal profit, according to the Financial Times. As of today, Forbes lists Ellison as the world's seventh richest person, with an estimated net worth of $51.6 billion. In 2008, Ellison famously described cloud computing as a "fashion-driven" trend, but his company has since embraced the cloud and seeks to boost its capabilities to compete with rivals such as Salesforce.
Plans To 'Accelerate Innovation'
NetSuite, which today announced second-quarter revenues of $230.8 million, a 30 percent increase over the same quarter last year, provides cloud-based software for enterprise resource planning and other applications to more than 30,000 business customers and organizations around the world.
In an FAQ to customers and partners, Oracle said it is "committed to protecting and enhancing customer investments in NetSuite solutions" and plans to accelerate the pace of innovation in the company's offerings after the transaction closes. Until then, the companies will continue to operate independently.
"Gaining access to Oracle's tremendous resources and deep technology stack makes this combination a winner for NetSuite's customers, employees and partners," according to the FAQ. "We expect NetSuite to utilize Oracle's global scale and reach to accelerate the availability of its cloud solutions in more industries and more countries."
In May, IDC analyst Gerry Murray told us that Oracle's cloud ambitions mean "there is a lot more M&A [mergers and acquisitions] and product evolution work to do."
The latest development to come out of Salesforce's partnership with Microsoft is Salesforce Lightning for Outlook, a product that integrates CRM applications with Microsoft's email platform. The two companies announced the new tool earlier this week.
Support and service representatives use customer relationship management (CRM) software and email more than any other tools to communicate with people on the job, according to Salesforce. However, those two tools rarely work together, so reps often find themselves jumping from one app to the other and back again while handling customer issues.
By enabling companies to build Salesforce capabilities directly into Microsoft's Outlook email program, Lightning for Outlook helps customer service professionals save time and effort, according to Salesforce. The Lightning user interface is also designed to provide reps with greater insights into their interactions with customers across both apps.
Coming Soon to Outlook Mobile
Salesforce said its new offering with Microsoft lets businesses use Lightning Components, reusable building blocks of code, to embed new and customized CRM integrations into Outlook email. For example, a sales rep writing an email to a customer will be able to update a price quote using Salesforce SteelBrick CPQ without having to leave Outlook.
Lightning for Outlook will also make it possible for customer service professionals to search for, view and update Salesforce records for email contacts directly from Outlook, and automatically sync contacts and calendar events between the two apps.
Salesforce Lightning for Outlook is available now for Outlook users on Windows or Mac, as well as on the Web. A future update, set to roll out soon, will also add support for such integration on Outlook Mobile, Salesforce said.
Customer Data 'at the Point of Contact'
The typical sales representative in a business spends more than 70 percent of the work week sending or responding to email messages, according to Salesforce. By adding Salesforce functionality directly into Outlook email, companies can help their sales and service reps work more productively, the company said.
"The world is becoming more interconnected than ever before, yet most technology solutions are isolated from one another so users are spending their valuable time toggling between complex apps and manually updating data," IDC customer experience analyst Mary Wardley said in a statement released by Salesforce. Bringing together isolated apps helps offer "joint solutions built with the end user in mind," she added.
Salesforce and Microsoft first announced their global partnership in May 2014. The deal, whose financial terms were not revealed, was aimed at creating new joint offerings designed to benefit customers of both companies.
"With customer data at the point of customer contact, reps can more easily stay close to their customers," Ryan Aytay, Salesforce's executive vice president of strategic product alliances, wrote Tuesday in a blog post. "They easily see whom to contact when and how to painlessly update records for seamless handoffs. By accessing Salesforce directly from Outlook, there's no more jumping between programs, no extra clicks, no hassle -- just the modern sales workflow, the way it was meant to be."
Enterprise applications delivered to corporate clients via the cloud may be extremely powerful, thanks to the near-infinite compute resources such programs can deploy. But much of the time they are not necessarily the easiest programs for staff members to use. Two new platforms from Microsoft aim to change that by making a company's cloud-delivered apps more user friendly.
Dubbed Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft AppSource, the platforms are set to launch this fall with the goal of building on the company’s existing CRM (customer relationship management) and ERP (enterprise resource planning) cloud solutions to make it easier for business customers to discover software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps offered by Microsoft and its partners.
Simplifying App Deployment
“Technology is transforming our personal lives with apps and services that are simple and intuitive, and deliver helpful assistance to improve our lives,” Takeshi Numoto, corporate vice president for Microsoft Cloud + Enterprise, wrote in a blog post today. “In contrast the apps and services we use to drive business process are often difficult to use, try and deploy. Some even make you pay extra for capabilities like visualization, workflow automation and predictive insights.”
Microsoft Dynamics 365 will combine the company’s existing CRM and ERP cloud solutions into a single cloud service with multiple purpose-built apps designed to manage specific business functions such as financials, field service, sales, operations, marketing, project service automation, and customer service.
Dynamics 365 apps have modular designs, allowing customers to deploy each app independently as it is needed, and pay for each one separately. Additionally, all of the apps are designed to integrate with each other, so customers should be able to scale up their services with additional capabilities such as built-in insights, predictive intelligence, and workflow optimization as needed.
Integration with Office 365
Both Microsoft’s Power BI and Cortana Intelligence capabilities will be natively embedded in the platform to offer customers additional tools. For example, Cortana Intelligence will enable cross-sell recommendations to help sales reps predict which products and services customers might need.
Meanwhile, access to Internet of Things data inside Dynamics 365 for Field Service will allow enterprises to take preemptive action from field service agents by connecting asset monitoring and anomaly detection before failures occur, avoiding costly customer service issues. Dynamics 365 will also be deeply integrated with Office 365 to better connect the enterprise apps with standard office productivity apps.
For example, a salesperson could use Dynamics 365 apps to respond directly to a customer email in Office, using a quote based on information provided by the finance and sales apps, all without ever leaving the Outlook interface, the company said.
AppSource, meanwhile, will serve as a new destination for business users to find and try out line-of-business SaaS apps from Microsoft. The company said the platform will launch with more than 200 business SaaS apps, add-ons, and content packs.
During its annual SugarCon conference last week, SugarCRM unveiled a new machine learning-based offering that's currently in development: Sugar Intelligence Service.
The service, which will be delivered through a Siri- or Cortana-like artificial intelligence (AI) agent called "Candace," will combine companies' in-house data with other outside sources to provide predictive analytics and a more 360-degree view of customers.
No release date or pricing information has been announced at this time. The intelligence service will function as a "one-stop shop of information" about seller-customer interactions, according to SugarCRM.
'More Time Learning from Data'
SugarCRM chief product officer Rich Green led a demonstration of Candace and the new intelligence service during his presentation at the SugarCon conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. New technologies are helping to transform CRM, he said, noting that SugarCRM's new service builds on technologies that were added through two recent acquisitions: Contastic and Stitch.
Acquired by SugarCRM for an undisclosed sum in March, Contastic's flagship product is an automated natural language processing platform designed to help companies quickly provide customers with helpful and relevant information. Stitch, purchased in March 2015, specialized in personal assistant technologies for mobile users.
Those technologies of those two companies are enabling SugarCRM to build future service offerings based on intelligent agent technologies, Green said. "In the near future, we plan to give Sugar users the ability to gather and analyze customer intelligence from a broad range of sources so that people spend less time entering data into the CRM and more time learning from it," Green said in a statement.
Sugar with Slack, Bots and More
Much of SugarCRM's recent growth has come from smaller-scale business customers that typically have between 500 and 1,000 users, according to a 2015 Magic Quadrant report about sales force automation providers from Gartner Inc. The addition of more automated, AI-driven services could help the company further expand its market reach.
SugarCRM already partners with a number of large, global services providers such as Infosys, Wipro and IBM. In fact, the company announced last week that it was adding the support of IBM Cloud to its own CRM platform with the goal of providing customers with fast, global and scalable services.
The new partnership with SugarCRM will help IBM's clients gain "the ability to deploy the Sugar platform across any hybrid cloud environment, making it easier than ever to gain privacy and control over their most important asset -- customer data," according to Bill Karpovich, general manager for IBM Cloud Platform.
During last week's SugarCon, SugarCRM also singled out several partners for the "coolest, most useful and most innovative extensions of the Sugar platform." They included Collab, which has begun using Facebook Messenger's bot technology for customer engagement; Epicom's "Slack for Sugar" implementation; and TrustSphere, which has applied relationship analytics to its Sugar platform to better identify hidden contacts, prospects and partners
If you think that most consumers prefer shopping online these days, you might want to think again. Most consumers still prefer to buy their goods the old fashioned way, in brick-and-mortar stores if price isn't a factor, according to a new study on consumer buying patterns from cloud CRM (customer relationship management) giant Salesforce.
However, there are major differences between the generations, according to Salesforce's “2016 Connected Consumer Goods Report." While 63 percent of Baby Boomers said they would rather shop in physical stores than online if prices are the same, only 40 percent of Millennials agreed with them.
And there are some other major differences as well. While only 22 percent of Baby Boomers said they willing to share their personal information with consumer brands in exchange for more personalized experiences, 41 percent of Millennial shoppers said that they would. Likewise, Millennials were five time more likely to rely on recommendations and feedback from social media connections when making a purchasing decision than their Baby Boomer counterparts.
Although the Millennial generation may have a reputation for being less traditional and more prone to experimentation, the study indicated that Millennials are actually far more likely to be members of brand loyalty programs than older consumers, by a margin of 44 percent to 26 percent.
While that’s a big positive for companies, that loyalty also comes with its own challenges. The study found that Millennials are also much more likely to either complain about or praise brands in public than Baby Boomer consumers. They also have higher expectations of brands, preferring them to understand their personal preferences based on their purchase histories, according to the report.
Those responses seem to indicate that relationship building will be more important than ever for brands that want to keep consumers coming back, according to Salesforce.
Building Stronger Relationships
“A significant number of traditional consumer goods companies believe that the moment of sale is the culmination of the relationship with the customer. That’s a short-sighted approach in today’s customer-first economy,” said Cindy Bolt, SVP, Salesforce Industries, Manufacturing and Consumer Goods, in a statement. “With everyone and everything connected, companies that harness technology to move beyond the sale, deliver a seamless experience and build stronger relationships will be the ones that not only succeed, but also foster lifelong customers as well.”
Despite the generation gaps, the study found that some trends seem to apply across age groups. All adults have become more reliant on online customer reviews when researching products, with 69 percent reading at least one review before making a purchase. Most consumers also said that they tend to find the best prices when shopping online, although a majority also said that they received better customer service when shopping in real-world stores.
Survey respondents consisted of 2,095 U.S. adults, ages 18 and older, almost all of whom had purchased consumer goods in the past 12 months. The poll was conducted online by Harris Poll from May 9-11.
At its first TrailheaDX developer conference in San Francisco, Salesforce said it will enhance its Trailhead developer learning program and also debuted its new App Cloud that will bring together platform services for mobile developers. For Salesforce, that will mean a ramped-up training presence and a $50 million infusion from its venture capital arm, along with the creation of an incubator for enterprise startups.
Among the new tools meant to speed up development of apps and components are Lightning LockerService to ensure that apps under development stay secure. Also included are Lightning Inspector for debugging and Lightning CLI for code validation. Those components are scheduled to be included in the next Lightning release later this summer.
To date, 2.8 million Salesforce developers have built more than 5.5 million apps. The company's AppExchange enterprise app store is the world’s largest, with more than 3,000 apps available.
Demand Is High
At TrailheaDX, the company emphasized that the new offerings are meant to meet the demand for enterprise apps, which at this point far outweighs the supply.
This labor gap could be closed by diversifying the developer base by enabling everyone from computer scientists to self-taught coders to novice business users to build apps using simplified tools, according to Brian Goldfarb, senior vice president of the Salesforce App Cloud. "We can take a wide approach to move beyond language, expertise and gender," Goldfarb said at the event.
With its developer efforts, Salesforce also aim to establish itself as a wide-ranging platform for enterprise software by joining various tools, including CRM, analytics, apps and the Internet of Things. Its Trailhead training platform will assist in that effort by offering more help to a wider range of developers. The deluxe edition of the two-year-old platform lets users earn badges and "super badges" that reflect training time and expertise level.
Resources for Entrepreneurs
Salesforce Ventures’ $50 million Lightning Fund will go toward entrepreneurs building game-changing Lightning apps and components that extend the power of Salesforce. A number of capital companies are joining Salesforce to seek out opportunities to jointly invest in the more innovative startups. Salesforce's corporate investment group has invested in more than 150 enterprise cloud startups in 14 countries.
The company’s new incubator, Salesforce for Startups, aims to provide cloud startups and accounting firms that use Salesforce Lightning with access to technology, resources and expertise. The incubator will also provide a collaborative physical space within Salesforce offices that gives startups and services companies access to Salesforce technology and mentorship. The incubator will open in the San Francisco Bay Area by the end of 2016.
Salesforce is to buy Demandware a US provider of enterprise cloud commerce solutions for $75 per share in cash in a deal worth $2.8 billion.
The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of Salesforce's fiscal year 2017, ending July 31, 2016.
"Demandware is an amazing company -- the global cloud leader in the multi-billion dollar digital commerce market," said Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO, Salesforce. "With Demandware, Salesforce will be well positioned to deliver the future of commerce as part of our Customer Success Platform and create yet another billion dollar cloud."
"Demandware and Salesforce share the same passionate focus on customer success," said Tom Ebling, CEO, Demandware.
"Becoming part of Salesforce will accelerate our vision to empower the world's leading brands with the most innovative digital commerce solutions that enable them to connect 1:1 with customers across any channel."
According to Gartner, worldwide spending on digital commerce platforms is expected to grow at over 14 percent annually, reaching $8.544 billion by 2020 (Gartner, Inc. Forecast: Enterprise Software Markets, Worldwide, 2013-2020, 1Q16 Update, March 17, 2016).
In a statement the company said Salesforce's acquisition of Demandware, a recognized leader in the space, will extend the company's CRM leadership and position it to capture this multi-billion dollar digital commerce market with what will be the new Salesforce Commerce Cloud.
The Salesforce Commerce Cloud will be an integral part of Salesforce's Customer Success Platform, creating opportunities for companies to connect with their customers in entirely new ways. Salesforce customers will have access to the industry's leading enterprise cloud commerce platform, and Demandware's customers will be able to leverage Salesforce's leading sales, service, marketing, communities, analytics, IoT and platform solutions to deliver a more comprehensive, personalized consumer experience.
Hi there, my name is Tim and I am a CRM/BI consultant.