Think about it in the context of an iOS or Android phone or tablet. What would a smart phone today be with out the innumerable apps that surround it? Its almost as if the fact that it makes phone calls is irrelevant. No amount of due diligence is going to protect you against what you don't know. Ever heard that saying, "it's not what you know that bites you but rather what you don't"? This is why selecting an application that is part of an ecosystem is so critical. Even though you might go through an extremely exhaustive selection process in order to ensure that the application does everything you need it to do today, in this ever changing global market place, it's almost impossible to predict your needs even two years ahead because lets face it, the future has not been invented yet.
However, unlike functionality that allows you to play a phone like a flute, we are talking about business functionality. For example, marketing automation, social media listening, email mining etc, etc. Functionality that might not be critical to your business staying competitive today but absolutely will be in the future. I mean, could Blockbuster have foreseen that a technology like streaming videos would put them out of business in less than a decade?
So what is the take away? Make sure you future proof your business by selecting a solution that has a platform on which applications can be developed by developers outside the company itself, to provide functionality for needs which your business will need to remain competitive in the future. SalesForce 'future proofs' your business by providing a platform and an AppExchange market place. Developers can develop applications and offer them for sale to the ever growing Salesforce user population. At last count there were more than 2,000 applications available in the AppExchange providing add on functionality to the core Salesforce product available. Some free while others are licensed on a per user basis. All applications have been fully vetted and passed through the Salesforce security review process and are guaranteed to work with all future releases of Salesforce. In addition, most can be installed and configured by a Salesforce Administrator within minutes. Compare this to having to contract with a developer to custom code the functionality you require. Never mind the initial development costs and just think about the long term maintenance overhead. Yes you could buy a stand alone product but then would it integrate with Salesforce or anything for that matter?
So the next time you are asked to compare the Salesforce platform with another application, a good question to ask of the competing vendor is, "does your product offer 'future proofing' functionality by way of an ecosystem? Because Salesforce does."
Andrew Bartels has been recognized by Salesforce.com as one of the leading innovators with regard to implementing Salesforce.com in the insurance vertical. As a CTO for a Top 100 Independent Insurance Agency, he oversaw the deployment of a Salesforce.com system in 2010. Over the next three years, he focused on customizing the system and implementing best practices for the insurance industry, ultimately generating a significant ROI for the firm. Andrew brings years of hard fought experience to our clients so that they can accelerate their ROI in implementing Salesforce.com.