Dreamforce 2012

September 24, 2012, Posted by Byron Bardy

We attended Dreamforce 2012 and came away extremely impressed with both the quality and maturity of the ecosystem of ISVs and services providers surrounding Salesforce. If any attendee had lingering doubts that Salesforce is the spiritual leader of the cloud computing movement, those doubts were surely dashed after seeing the energy and excitement of the partners, customers and attendees on the Expo floor over three crowded days.

Given Catapult’s coverage of the Customer Experience market opportunity and the underlying technologies that support it, we were particularly interested in Salesforce’s announcement of the new “Marketing Cloud.” See www.salesforce.com/marketing-cloud

Marketing, Social and Web Experience solutions are all important components of a successful Customer Experience strategy for businesses large and small. Salesforce appears to be taking the approach that Social = Marketing. Hmm. Today, the Marketing Cloud is essentially Radian6 + Buddy Media, the two social software market leaders that Salesforce acquired over the past 18 months. Why not call it the “Social Cloud,” wouldn’t that be a more accurate name?

According to senior Salesforce managers that we spoke with during Dreamforce, the theory being promoted by the Marketing Cloud executive leadership is that Social is so important and powerful going forward, that it will trump the existing Marketing software solutions in the market, i.e. “social is everything.” So, for example, they view moving into the well-established Marketing Automation space that prominent Expo sponsors like Eloqua and Marketo play in as “looking backwards” and “outdated.” This is quite a leap of faith. Catapult believes that the extremely healthy and rapidly growing Marketing Automation space provides strong functionality, is far from “outdated” and is still very much in the early adoption phase from both an SMB and an enterprise perspective.

So depending on your take on the future, it could be good news or bad news for the Marketing Automation vendors that were sprinkled all over the Dreamforce Expo floor…

The good news: if the Marketing Cloud team sticks to their guns and believes they need no Marketing Automation functionality, then Salesforce won’t be competing with you via an acquisition any time soon!

The bad news: once they realize how critical Marketing Automation solutions such as lead management and cross-channel campaign management are to driving measurable ROI on your customer’s marketing spend, Salesforce will likely buy or build the missing pieces of a true “Marketing Cloud” and will be competing with you soon enough.

We continue to see lots of innovation from established companies and startups alike surrounding the Customer Experience opportunity and the momentum only continues to build.

About the author

Byron Bardy is a Partner at Catapult Advisors, an investment bank providing M&A and capital raising advice to leading software and internet companies. https://www.catapultadvisors.com