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Salesforce's IoT Strategy

By Denis Pombriant CRM Buyer ECT News Network
Oct 16, 2017 2:33 PM PT
internet-of-things

Salesforce is a large and well-disciplined development company. It's pretty good at marketing too. It continues to innovate in all product areas, from core platform to applications, and the one criticism I'd make is that it's information overload at times. Reminds me of Oracle.

Lately Salesforce has made a big deal of adding its AI product, Einstein, to every application area to provide insights and stack rank options. Given that this is Einstein's first year, it's not surprising that the foundational layer looks similar across all of Salesforce's disciplines.

In cloud after cloud, we see some version of next best... . I expect that we might see examples of this at Dreamforce.

Fast App Development

Back to discipline. Salesforce has been paying a good deal of attention to the applications level these days, in addition to spiffing up its platform. It's noticeable in banking and finance, as well as in the Internet of Things, but the differences in approach are what's most interesting.

The company's IoT approach is very different from what it has been doing in finance. Salesforce recently announced IoT Explorer and the ability to develop IoT applications quickly. App-building tools are a part of the platform. It's not much of a surprise that more agile development is coming to IoT, but it reveals an interesting take on company strategy.

IoT has a lot of moving parts right now, and the natural inclination for some might be to try to dominate the end-to-end process -- from intelligent devices to connectivity to IoT platforms and finally on to business applications. However, three of these four areas might not bring in a nickel for a company like Salesforce.

Specialized vendors that Salesforce would have trouble competing with dominate devices and connectivity. IoT platforms is a similar area, with companies like Amazon Web Services dominating. So Salesforce wisely didn't try to compete and is dedicated to supporting the leading platforms, leaving the business application area as its chosen place to compete.

Critical Processes

By focusing on the apps, Salesforce appears to be positioning itself as the key to capturing value from investments further upstream in devices and platforms. Typically a business might make independent decisions about those areas, and the business app company better be able to work with whatever is in place, and that's the strategy.

Given the state of the early IoT market, it makes good sense to go with an app development strategy. It's too early to have standardized apps that vendors might want to buy off the shelf, so having a quick and efficient development toolset makes all the sense in the world.

On the other side of the industry, there's financial services and banking -- two mature marketplaces with specific application demands. Here the strategy is less about new development than it is about using the platform to make clean and effective changes to process-oriented operational systems.

In banking and finance, Salesforce can deploy its many platform-based tools, along with partners like nCino and Vlocity, to produce systems that cover an institution's critical processes -- like loan origination and customer service.

Again, Dreamforce might have more to reveal here.


Denis Pombriant is a well-known CRM industry researcher, strategist, writer and speaker. His new book, You Can't Buy Customer Loyalty, But You Can Earn It, is now available on Amazon. His 2015 book, Solve for the Customer, is also available there. He can be reached at denis.pombriant@beagleresearch.com.


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