The Salesforce platform has become a gold standard in today’s business application ecosystem. In a matter of a decade, the technology has completely evolved, becoming more complex and changing way the businesses work in the modern world.
And, the pace is picking up. What was once viewed as a simplistic way to manage relationships is now a technology-backed strategy for successful internal operations.
Although intricate, the setup of the technology is not impossible, nor is it without the possibility of great benefit. As the complexity of the market ensues, we are seeing some interesting (and more specific) trends for 2016 – from Salesforce to end users – and how everyone is embracing the tide.
1. Salesforce focuses on a more vertical go-to-market strategy
At the core, the Salesforce platform satisfies the needs of business models that put the management of customer relationships at the center. Over the past few years, there has been an increasing demand for more vertical solutions with configurations that allow more niche companies to better utilize the technology.
Will verticalization give traditional CRM serious competition?
In 2016, we see ‘verticalization’ of CRM solutions accelerating. For example, a wealth manager has different needs than a medical device salesperson, and companies are increasingly realizing that they could benefit from using industry-specific solutions. As a result, horizontal (generic) platforms will be replaced by industry-specific vertical solutions that help navigate the specific challenges of niche industries. Due to the influx of industry-specific software demands, Salesforce has started to release industry-specific features and brands for its product.
Previously however, Salesforce denounced the need for vertical applications. Given the recent market demands, their strategy has since changed. Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com recently told CRM Magazine, “Since our inception I’ve never been a fan of verticals. Really what happened were two things: We started aggregating customers by a number of key verticals. When we got into financial services they started to ask us to customize our product with a number of things. We [later discovered] our product really was satisfying a lot of them, and not just small and medium ones–where we have a lot of presence–but really the biggest in the world, including Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank and others. That’s why we need to focus on the financial services industry, because, first and foremost, our largest customer is now in financial services. Second, we ended up having a lot of demand-specific expertise.”
Salesforce created Financial Services Cloud in response to the growing demand for a more tailored solution with many features including automation of routine processes and the ability to track client referrals so an opportunity is never missed. Wealth Managers will also be able to take client management to the next level by connecting with clients in real-time from any device and responding to timely account alerts.
LiquidHub has long since realized the value of verticalization leading us to create several accelerators for Salesforce in Wealth Management, Asset Management, Retail Insurance and Travel to name a few. Our industry expertise has also led us to conducting the very first implementation the Financial Services Cloud.
2. Customer Engagement Remains Paramount
Customer engagement sits at the core of the modern ways businesses connect with customers. It can be complex and only 10% of firms go at it alone, relying on multiple partners to drive their digital transformation.
The collective interactions between company and the customer comprise the customer journey. It is measured by the customer’s experience during all points of engagement against their expectations and is critical to the success of any modern business. Rising customer expectations and innovative technologies are forcing companies to engage and collaborate with customers in new ways. Forrester has even dubbed this current era the “Age of the Customer.”
Analytics and data-driven insights are improving and subsequently becoming essential components of digital sales technology trends. Customization, personalization and proactive customer interactions will shape the customer experiences of winning businesses. Customer experience tactics alone, however, will not be enough for a company to make a difference on the market in 2016. CMOs should focus on not only establishing multifaceted customer experience strategies but they should strive to work with one partner that can help usher the business into a digital ecosystem that will be able to differentiate the company in front of its customers.
3. Working with multiple parties or one who can do it all
In addition to the growing complexity of the application technology market, we’re seeing many consulting-specific businesses emerge. Whether specialized in Analytics, Marketing, or other clouds of the like, businesses are finding themselves leveraging multiple partners to help manage key components of their application ecosystem.
However, there can be great power in consolidation by working with one partner who can do it all as opposed to larger, more complex consultant companies because having multiple partners with specialized individual expertise is harder to manage in contrast with having one partner with many pockets of expertise. This is not to say that larger consulting firms are out of touch with the market – rather they work with larger enterprises with hundreds of moving parts.
For the smaller, medium-sized outfit, it’s much more difficult to find one partner that’s affordable and can meet all their needs. So, we see a lot of businesses who partner with multiple consultants making it harder to manage and communicate across all parties.
This partner landscape continues to change as specialized digital agencies fail to address the comprehensive, end-to-end requirements for delivering effective digital engagement across the customer journey. Successful firms are now turning to partners who are able to provide integration, innovation, and implementation capabilities.
Salesforce has truly harnessed their vision as a platform for Customer Engagement Management, versus just being very advanced Sales Force Automation and Customer Services technology. Focusing on helping specialized industry sectors obtain more vertical, tailored technology is helping so many businesses (especially Financial Services) unlock the potential for not only engaging with customers but also delighting them.