After four years as CTO of eBay and a decade prior to that leading the engineering of Salesforce’s platform and brand, Steve Fisher had settled into a comfortable retirement two years ago, enjoying a state-of-the-art theater at his oceanfront home. But just as it seemed the credits were about to roll on his career, his phone buzzed.
It was a FaceTime call ... I looked down and my phone is buzzing and there's a picture of Marc [Benioff] and I thought ‘Oh that's unusual.’
The Salesforce CEO was calling to discuss the work his company had been doing to solve one of the most pressing challenges facing large enterprises today. Their customer data is trapped in a sprawling mess of digital marketing and CRM tools that have sprouted up over the years. Fisher knew from his own experience at eBay what it takes to bring all that data together, overlay it with AI, and then meet customer expectations for a consistent, relevant experience across touchpoints that vary from email, advertising, web and mobile to call centers. He'd also been thinking that this was a platform that all businesses, not just web giants like eBay, were going to need, as digital channels become ubiquitous. Fisher says:
I just was feeling the itch that somebody needs to build that platform. And that's when Marc called. And I said, 'You know, I think we need to build this platform.' And Marc said, 'Well, we're building it, so why don't you come over and help us out?'
Benioff introduced him to the team that were working on the project and Fisher was sold. He recalls:
I thought, I've just got to do this. I can't just spend the next 30 years watching movies and sitting on the beach. I've got to go build this product. And that's what I wanted to come back to do — build this product and really bring it to life across the entire Customer 360 ...
There's lots of companies that can deliver a piece of the solution, but who else can really put it together and really put the end customer at the centre and deliver that consistent, relevant, magical experience for them? I just didn't think that anybody else other than Salesforce could really do that. And it was just too compelling for me.
The project, now called Genie, launched at Dreamforce last week. Like several of its competitors, Salesforce had been building a Customer Data Platform (CDP) to connect data across those separate application siloes and achieve a single ‘360-degree view’ of the customer — a long-promised goal that vendors still struggle to deliver. But it then decided to build something with a broader reach, able to bring together not just everything that marketers needed to interact with customers, but extending across every aspect of CRM, encompassing sales and service too. Fisher explains:
We launched a version of this for marketers that we called the CDP. That was our opportunity to prove out the technology, test out the technology, get some customers, get some feedback — but that wasn't really the vision. We're a CRM company and our vision is to provide personalized engagement across every touchpoint, human, digital, in-store. That's basically our mission, to build customer relationships.
Genie therefore represents a step change in the way that Salesforce architects the platform on which all its applications run. He elaborates:
I think now, with Genie, it's really probably the biggest step forward we've made since back in 2004, 2005. Bringing this hyperscale, real-time data, optimized for engagement, optimized for analytics, optimized for AI — but deeply connected into the Salesforce platform.
Genie's been described as a data lake, which technically is accurate, but as a metaphor conveys completely the wrong impression. We think of a lake as a smooth body of tranquil water, whereas Genie is a tumult of rapid cross-currents, at the nexus of countless weirs that channel the rushing inflows and outflows of data. At a briefing last week, Fisher and two colleagues outlined the key elements that Genie brings to the Salesforce platform. There's a lot of underlying technology that handles the massive data flows — my notes mention a "big data hyperscale infrastructure" — but what's really important is that Genie is a new layer of abstraction that normalizes data from multiple sources so that it can be analyzed and acted upon as a single dataset.
Data can come from any source, whether it's any of the Salesforce applications, from web or mobile interactions, or via an API from other enterprise applications and data stores, and it's then turned into a Salesforce data object by applying any of over fifty extensible data models, or customer graphs, which cover entities from people and accounts to consent, loyalty, security and so on. These out-of-the-box data models can be tuned to specific requirements and they can apply fuzzy matching with probabilistic scoring to help automate the process of ingesting data. There's an identity resolution tool that automatically joins up records across different IDs for the same individual. Muralidhar Krishnaprasad, EVP Software Engineering, who leads the Genie project, explains why these graphs are important:
The power here is this. These are virtual models. That means even though your data is coming from a hundred different sources, you can logically map to this model so that the rest of your applications don't have to worry about what your schema was.
Working on this normalized data, it's then possible to view standardized segments, dashboards and calculated insights or trigger actions such as business flows, customer journeys, or the creation of reports in Tableau. For example, Health Cloud is now shipping a unified health score that aggregates all the device feeds from customers or patients. In another example, marketers can create segments and then personalize experiences or commerce journeys.
Genie has a multi-layer structure to accommodate data sources with different cadences, ranging from real-time to batch, and a real-time cache layer is able to respond to requests within milliseconds, which is essential for certain customer-facing applications. Administrators can specify dataspaces with restricted access to a slice of data, which allows specific teams or business units to work on their own projects without impacting others. Data can also be exposed into Snowflake without copying or into AWS Sagemaker to create complex ML models.
Another way of looking at this is that Salesforce has broken down the silos that separate data between applications and built a common data layer that not only feeds all its CRM applications but is also available to machine learning, AI and analytics. Effectively, the data has become 'headless' although Salesforce doesn't align itself with the new generation of composable commerce and content vendors that take a more best-of-breed ecosystem approach to CRM.
Curious about where Genie is taking Salesforce, I asked David Schmaier, President and Chief Product Officer at Salesforce, for his take on the trend towards composable applications. His response was that Salesforce views the CRM market as falling into three segments based on product architectures. The first of these is the declarative CRM market. He explains:
We're by far the leaders in the declarative CRM market, declarative meaning it comes out of the box, and you can use clicks not code to tailor it to the way your business works, and we even go further than that with industries. We're bigger than the sum of everybody else in that space.
There's a self-subscribe CRM market, a product-led segement which targets small businesses with ready-to-run, packaged solutions. Salesforce plays here too, as he explains:
That's where we launched Salesforce Easy, which is really for SMBs, sort of a simple C360 Suite. We took it from 27 clicks to sign up for Salesforce to three. You put in your email, you put in your credit card, and bam, you're in. And then you can import your contacts and you're off and running. And we think this is really cool. We have a whole Easy initiative just to make everything easier and simpler.
The other segment is the API-first CRM market, characterized by headless commerce and content vendors, in which best-of-breed components are co-ordinated via universal API management. Salesforce is the leader here too, he says, quoting a accurate study by API platform vendor Postman which finds Salesforce is by far the leading source of APIs that businesses call. But while Salesforce is able to support a composable approach, he sees this as a smaller market, limited by the challenges of co-ordinating this kind of architecture. But Salesforce still accommodates customers that want to take this approach, as he explains:
Even though we sometimes lead with the declarative approach, if somebody really asks for a composable headless architecture, we listen, we don't mandate. The customer's really always right.
Don't underestimate the importance of Genie. It's a major upgrade to the data layer within the Salesforce platform, and a fundamental break with the traditional vertically-stacked architecture of enterprise applications. This has been forced by the need to deliver data instantly wherever it's needed, whether that's in customer interactions where, as Schmaier likes to emphasize, "milliseconds matter", or to expose ever-larger datasets to machine learning and data analytics. This is the inexorable pressure of the move to Frictionless Enterprise with its emphasis on real-time response and on-demand resources.
The next question this raises in my mind is whether Genie represents Salesforce moving towards what I've started calling a Tierless Architecture, in which data becomes an API-first resource that's available to any touchpoint or service. I find Schmaier's response here interesting. Salesforce still leads with what he calls a declarative product, in which the application comes ready-built but with huge choice in how it's configured. He sees that as distinct from the composable market, where the engagement layer is more flexible and therefore requires a greater level of technical resource to deliver a finished application. I suspect the distinction is more a matter of degree. The composable vendors are on track to provide more toolkits and templates to get closer to an out-of-the-box offering, while Salesforce is providing more and more flexibility in how the application is structured. Genie may be a pivotal moment towards the convergence of these two approaches, and I expect to see continuing pressure on Salesforce to maintain its momentum towards a more composable architecture.
Salesforce Inc. (NYSE:CRM) went down by -2.21% from its latest closing price compared to the accurate 1-year high of $311.75. The company’s stock price has collected -5.37% of loss in the last five trading sessions. The Wall Street Journal reported on 09/21/22 that Salesforce Enters the Carbon-Credit Business
Salesforce Inc. (NYSE:CRM) scored a price-to-earnings ratio above its average ratio, recording 265.83 x from its present earnings ratio. Plus, the 36-month beta value for CRM is at 1.10.
CRM currently public float of 967.42M and currently shorts hold a 1.36% ratio of that float. Today, the average trading volume of CRM was 6.28M shares.
CRM stocks went down by -5.37% for the week, with a monthly drop of -8.11% and a quarterly performance of -15.29%, while its annual performance rate touched -50.96%. The volatility ratio for the week stands at 4.29% while the volatility levels for the past 30 days are set at 3.32% for Salesforce Inc. The simple moving average for the period of the last 20 days is -4.44% for CRM stocks with a simple moving average of -23.65% for the last 200 days.
Guggenheim, on the other hand, stated in their research note that they expect to see CRM reach a price target of $150. The rating they have provided for CRM stocks is “Neutral” according to the report published on September 02nd, 2022.
Guggenheim gave a rating of “Sell” to CRM, setting the target price at $150 in the report published on August 12th of the current year.
After a stumble in the market that brought CRM to its low price for the period of the last 52 weeks, the company was unable to rebound, for now settling with -54.38% of loss for the given period.
Volatility was left at 3.32%, however, over the last 30 days, the volatility rate increased by 4.29%, as shares sank -6.13% for the moving average over the last 20 days. Over the last 50 days, in opposition, the stock is trading -25.64% lower at present.
During the last 5 trading sessions, CRM fell by -5.37%, which changed the moving average for the period of 200-days by -44.13% in comparison to the 20-day moving average, which settled at $148.36. In addition, Salesforce Inc. saw -44.04% in overturn over a single year, with a tendency to cut further losses.
Reports are indicating that there were more than several insider trading activities at CRM starting from Benioff Marc, who sale 2,300 shares at the price of $142.99 back on Oct 13. After this action, Benioff Marc now owns 27,761,368 shares of Salesforce Inc., valued at $328,883 using the latest closing price.
Benioff Marc, the Chair and Co-CEO of Salesforce Inc., sale 2,300 shares at $142.10 during a trade that took place back on Oct 12, which means that Benioff Marc is holding 27,761,368 shares at $326,829 based on the most accurate closing price.
Equity return is now at value 0.90, with 0.60 for asset returns.
Salesforce is putting a new customer data platform, Genie, at the heart of its software to deliver real-time access to customer information across the enterprise.
“Genie is the world’s first real time CRM,” said chief product officer David Schmaier on the eve of the company’s Dreamforce 2022 customer conference. “It’s a high-speed, hyper-scalar data lake infrastructure that powers all of Salesforce’s applications.”
Running on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s public cloud, the new customer data platform (CDP) uses the same metadata as the rest of the Salesforce platform, and connects with the company’s Flow automation tools and Einstein AI-powered recommendation engine, enabling them to operate with real-time data too.
For Sheryl Kingstone, VP for customer experience and commerce at 451 Research, Genie could be a solution to the business problem of creating unified customer profiles based on a single source of truth, finally getting rid of customer data siloes across every department, business unit, and all the different regions, she says.
It’s been a challenge for Salesforce to get to the point where it can combine its rich legacy of transactional data with more modern sources of real-time data, according to Kingstone.
“They were doing it in stages,” she said. “Salesforce acquired MuleSoft to solve app integration, but it didn’t solve the data integration problem. Einstein solved some of the architectural shifts to bring the data together, but it still was a baby step.”
A bigger step toward solving the data integration problem, she said, came with Salesforce’s 2020 acquisition of personalization software vendor Evergage, which enabled it to rethink the data architecture of its applications from the ground up.
It’s not just about Salesforce applications, though: Genie also opens a gateway to Snowflake’s data cloud; enables Amazon’s SageMaker AI models to interact with Salesforce data in much the same way as its own Einstein models; and through Salesforce AppExchange will allow third-party developers to create apps that exploit its capabilities. Already, 18 partners have created apps for the Genie platform, Salesforce said.
All this gives Genie the power to release customer data trapped in the marketing department, according to Liz Miller, VP and principal analyst at Constellation Research.
“For the most part, CDPs are sold as marketing toys that address marketing things, but what we have here is a unified data model that is now a shared service across the stack,” said Miller.
Better yet, Genie’s open approach means it’s unlikely to interfere with CIOs’ own data lake strategies, she said.
“It might not be as sexy as big new unveils, but it can deliver and is real, which I think the market craves after decades of chasing lofty terms like ‘personalization,’” said Miller. “It makes Customer360 usable instead of it being an aspirational model of what we want to achieve.”
As 451’s Kingstone surmised, the new customer data platform has its roots in Salesforce’s 2020 acquisition of Evergage, which had built a personalization engine (later rebranded as Salesforce Interaction Studio) on top of its own CDP.
Genie has parts of that Evergage CDP at its heart, according to Patrick Stokes, general manager for Salesforce Platform.
“It was originally constructed with quite a bit of the lake house type of capability that Evergage brought to bear,” he said. “We’ve since updated that pretty significantly to implement Apache Iceberg.”
Iceberg, an open-source table format originally developed at Netflix, is key to Genie’s openness. It enables the efficient use of SQL for big data analytics, and is supported by data lake engines including Snowflake, Dremio and Spark.
Although Snowflake is Salesforce’s marquee partner for data sharing with Genie, the door is open to anyone who wants to implement Iceberg, whether they’re a software vendor or an end user, Stokes said.
Genie officially goes live on September 20, the opening day of Dreamforce, but behind the scenes, hundreds of enterprises are already using it to personalize customer interactions, Stokes said.
Among them are L’Oréal, which is interconnecting online and offline shopping experiences with Salesforce; Formula 1, which is using it to connect with motor racing fans; and Ford, using it to provide a single source of truth all the way from purchase through onboarding of connected services to ongoing maintenance of its vehicles. Ford can use Genie for everything from scheduling periodic service to delivering urgent roadside assistance, he said.
However, not everyone will benefit from the new real-time capabilities, Stokes said, but there are situations where the difference between live and day-old data can be critical.
A key feature of Genie is that data — whether clinical, environmental or transactional — isn’t just ingested in real time: “We have the ability to stream all of that in in real time and make what we call calculated insights in real time,” he said. “In the healthcare industry, they’re trying to keep their customers alive. Operating off batch data can literally be life or death for some.” Fraud prevention applications will also benefit from Genie’s real-time capabilities, he said.
The ultimate goal of pulling customer data together into a customer data platform (CDP) is building more meaningful customer experiences in real time. Up until now, that’s been more aspirational than real, but Salesforce is announcing Genie, a real-time data integration platform, today at the Dreamforce customer conference, which aims to make that dream a reality.
At its core, Genie is a new data integration model that underlies the entire Salesforce platform with the aim of moving data wherever it’s needed most — and doing it fast.
Patrick Stokes, EVP and GM of platform at Salesforce, says this is probably the biggest news coming out of Dreamforce this week. “Genie effectively enables the world’s first real-time CRM,” he said.
“So we’re announcing that our Customer 360 applications — sales, service, commerce, marketing, everything in our Customer 360 portfolio — now have access to an entirely new way of bringing data into Salesforce in real time at scale that we’ve never been able to achieve before. And with that, our users can orchestrate real-time customer experiences against those datasets,” Stokes explained.
Prior to this, the company had built data integrations based on the transactional data in the Salesforce CRM database. This goes back to 2007 when Salesforce announced plans for Force.com at that year’s Dreamforce. Stokes said Genie is the modern equivalent of that early attempt, using a data lake that the company built to store the data instead of a transactional database.
“We connected this lakehouse architecture to the Salesforce platform, which at the technical layer means literally, we taught it Salesforce metadata, which is the way that all of our services talk to each other.” This approach also allows the platform to work with external services and data repositories, as well. In fact, the Snowflake integration the company announced last week is built with this technology.
But Genie is more than just a data integration layer. By allowing data to flow faster and more freely, it opens up all kinds of automation possibilities, especially when you combine it with Einstein for AI and machine learning and Salesforce Flow, the company’s workflow tool.
“If your platform can suddenly talk to all of this new data, and that data is coming in in real time, then you can use our automation layer like Salesforce Flow to orchestrate workflows or automations in real time, but only if the platform can keep up with the speed of change and volume of data that’s coming in,” he said.
Part of the ability to go faster beyond the architectural changes at the software level is that Genie is running on Salesforce’s own cloud infrastructure, Hyperforce, which was announced in 2020 as a way to move data from Salesforce to the public cloud. In this case, they are using it to move data between Salesforce and other services, both on the platform and to other data sources like Snowflake or Amazon SageMaker.
He adds that this ability to move data around in real time (or near real time), creates what is essentially a customer data graph.
“When you connect all of these different data sources into Genie, be those directly or other data lakes like Snowflake, what you’re doing is you’re modeling the data. You’re basically hooking it up to a data model. And when you do that, you’re creating a graph of how all that data is related to each other, independent of where it lives in a particular system of record, which is incredibly powerful,” Stokes said.
Liz Miller, an analyst at Constellation Research, says the shift to a new data model is a much-needed move for the company by pushing the CDP beyond marketing
“Honestly the thing I find most important about this is that Salesforce is moving in the right direction with their vision of a customer data platform. They are not treating a CDP as if it is a marketing toy for marketing things. Instead, they are turning the CDP into a foundational layer of unified, normalized and persistent personalization and smart segmentation that benefits the entire customer experience front line across sales, service and marketing,” Miller told TechCrunch.
Sheryl Kingstone, an analyst at S&P Global Market Intelligence, who has been covering the CRM space for years, agrees, saying the key to this change is building the data mechanism in a way that you can share this valuable data more widely.
“They are really focused on building this as part of what I would say is a true platform with all of the assets that this needs to work, and hopefully, it will create what I call a ‘customer intelligence platform,’ which makes sure that you don’t have multiple different CDP silos. And we finally can have that single source of the truth and execute on it.”
The combination of tooling has the potential to be able to make things happen based on the data and the situation without requiring human intervention, and that can be powerful. But Kingstone says the human side still matters and companies have to learn to put data in the hands of the people on the ground working with customers.
That’s going to be a huge challenge, regardless of how sophisticated the technology is, but Salesforce is attempting something big here that’s never been done before by changing the way data moves around the platform. Whether that truly leads to better customer experiences, online and in person, however, remains an open question.
Unlike many Dreamforce announcements, customers don’t have to wait until next year for Genie. These new capabilities are available now.
Did you miss a session from MetaBeat 2022? Head over to the on-demand library for all of our featured sessions here.
At Dreamforce 2022, CRM platform provider Salesforce unveiled two new products focusing on carbon credit market transparency and productive services for teams to get more value from their digital HQ.
Dreamforce, which runs at the Moscone Center in San Francisco through Wednesday, is Salesforce’s annual event, which began in 2003.
Salesforce announced the Net Zero Marketplace, a platform that’s designed to enable simple and transparent carbon credit purchases, allowing organizations to accelerate climate-positive impact at scale, and three Slack tools designed to enhance productivity. enhancing productivity.
Salesforce’s Net Zero Marketplace aims to connect buyers with ecopreneurs — environmentally focused entrepreneurs — in a trustworthy and transparent carbon credit platform to scale climate-positive impact.
Join today’s leading executives at the Low-Code/No-Code Summit virtually on November 9. Register for your free pass today.
According to a report by McKinsey, the global voluntary carbon market is estimated to grow to $50B by 2030 as many organizations race to achieve their net-zero commitments. However, organizations may not always know where to begin or how to develop a carbon credit portfolio.
Furthermore, the process of obtaining carbon credits can be complicated, and buyers want to be confident that the carbon credit projects will have a positive impact. Salesforce intends to address such concerns through its Net Zero marketplace.
Built on Salesforce’s commerce cloud and powered by the company’s new real-time CRM Genie, the platform offers a catalog of third-party rated carbon credits. The Net Zero Marketplace also features a climate action hub where businesses or individuals can learn about the latest climate issues and connect with other ecopreneurs.
According to new Salesforce research on the sustainability talent gap, 8 in 10 global workers want to help their company operate sustainably, with 3 in 5 eager to incorporate sustainability into their current role.
Patrick Flynn, SVP, global head of sustainability at Salesforce, told VentureBeat that Salesforce recently added sustainability as its fifth core value and has been actively using carbon credits as a part of their own climate strategy for five-plus years.
“One must start with emission reduction plans that consider not only your own operations but also the entire value chain consequences, including initiatives to catalyze systemic emission reduction effects beyond your value chain,” said Flynn. “Empowering such efforts was one of our main reasons for creating the Net Zero Marketplace, which also greatly complements our Net Zero cloud.”
Flynn said that the Net Zero Marketplace will enable individuals and organizations to collaborate on building better carbon credit portfolios and using carbon credits as a part of their overall climate action strategy.
The Net Zero Marketplace also eliminates the time-consuming process of finding and verifying a carbon credit’s quality by aggregating and publishing third-party ratings for projects not locked behind paywalls or account registrations. This level of transparency helps organizations determine which carbon credits are best for them.
“The unique part in this experience is that when anyone comes and learns about a project and learns about an ecopreneur, they will also be able to see a transparent pricing and third-party ratings, a key differentiator in our offering,” Nina Schoen, director of product management, Net Zero Cloud Salesforce told VentureBeat.
For organizations currently using Net Zero Cloud, Salesforce’s carbon accounting solution, the credits can be integrated into the platform and tracked against their current emissions. Buyers will also get updates on project progress, which encourages reinvestment.
Salesforce also announced new Slack features at Dreamforce to make it more productive for teams to work together in their digital HQ, allowing them to pull in actionable data directly from Salesforce Customer 360.
Slack Canvas, which will be available next year, is a new tool that will enable teams to select, organize, and share critical resources. When combined with the new Slack platform and Customer 360, teams can integrate data from record systems into the canvas and automate business-critical workflows.
Building on its audio-first experience, Slack huddles will now offer teams lightweight video conferencing, multi-person screen sharing, message threads, and more to power live coworking sessions.
“The nature of work is changing, and most organizations today use Slack as a digital HQ for synchronous communication with their team,” said Tamar Yehoshua, chief product officer at Slack.
At Dreamforce, Yehoshua said that the new Slack tools will help organizations increase team productivity and get the most value from their tech stacks by connecting conversations, automation, and apps in one space.
With the Marketing Cloud for Slack integrations, teams can set up, execute and measure their campaigns directly in Slack. Powered by Marketing Cloud Account Engagement, marketing and sales teams can leverage real-time alerts and align within Slack channels to prioritize lead follow-up, analyze pipeline impact and iterate on campaigns instantly.
Once a campaign is live, teams can include in-flight campaign performance data using Marketing Cloud’s Intelligence Insights for Slack integration in the channel and canvas. This feature aims to provide marketers a custom view of the campaign’s performance data in one place for teams to monitor trends, align on strategy and shift investments.
The new Slack platform and huddle features will start rolling out today and will be generally available to all users in the coming weeks.
VentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative enterprise technology and transact. Discover our Briefings.
If you ask 100 different investors if a stock is under- or overvalued and why, you're likely to get 100 different answers. If everyone knew a stock was undervalued, they would purchase it, which would drive the price up, and then it wouldn't be undervalued anymore.
However, going through the exercise to determine if a stock is undervalued is vital, as your research could yield significant returns. Today, I will dig into Salesforce (CRM 3.49%).
You can get a clue as to what Salesforce does by looking at its ticker: CRM. CRM is a common acronym that stands for customer relationship management, basically how a business interacts with current and prospective clients. The primary way to grow a business is by obtaining new customers and getting existing ones to spend more, so this software is vital for nearly every business.
CRM platforms have many capabilities, like marketing, customer service, and sales. By combining these operations into one software bundle, businesses can be more efficient in dealing with customers.
The CRM market opportunity is enormous, with the market expected to reach $158 billion by 2030, growing at a 13.3% annual rate from 2022 on.
That's an impressive market, but what's Salesforce's position in it? According to Statista, Salesforce controlled about 23.8% of the market in 2021, dwarfing second-place SAP's 5.4% market share. Furthermore, Salesforce's market share is growing, showing it is still the top pick for many businesses.
Salesforce's market leadership position in a growing industry checks many investment boxes. But how about its financials?
Despite a tricky second-quarter environment, Salesforce did well. Many businesses were not interested in purchasing new enterprise software. It's a cumbersome task, expensive, and has a steep learning curve. None of these activities are wise to do when the economy is struggling. If a business adopts new software, it's likely mission-critical and must provide significant value to the business.
In Salesforce's Q2 (ending July 31), revenue rose 22% YOY (year over year) to $7.72 billion. However, it lowered its fiscal-year 2023 (ending Jan. 31, 2023) revenue guidance from $31.75 billion to $30.95 billion. Nevertheless, this guidance still indicates 16.8% YOY growth -- not too bad for the current environment.
Remaining performance obligations (RPO) only rose 15% YOY. This trend is disappointing, as RPO is an indicator of future revenue. Still, this can be interpreted two ways. First, the difficult environment caused companies to pull back their spending, and this lost revenue will eventually return. Second, Salesforce has penetrated its market entirely, and its only growth will come from market expansion (projected to be 13.3% growth through 2030, as mentioned above).
When a growth stock's business begins to slow, investors demand profits. Profits have been slim in Salesforce's life as a public company, but management is projecting a 3.6% GAAP operating margin for FY23 (its current fiscal year). Much of Salesforce's losses come from heavy stock-based compensation -- in Q2, it was $851 million, or 16% of all operating expenses.
However, stock compensation is a noncash expense, which allows Salesforce to be free cash flow positive. In Q2, Salesforce produced $131 million in free cash flow, adding to its $13.5 billion cash and marketable securities position. With its cash pile, Salesforce plans to repurchase $10 billion in stock.
At face value, this may indicate that management believes its stock is undervalued. However, the primary reason for this repurchase plan is to offset shareholder dilution. Because of heavy stock-based compensation, Salesforce's share count has risen 38% over the past five years. This dilution makes each share less valuable, since each stock is worth a smaller stake in the company when new shares are issued.
If Salesforce were to drop all $10 billion on its shares right now, it would reduce its outstanding shares to a level last seen in 2021 before the acquisition of Slack was completed. That doesn't rewind the clock on share count much, but it would be a start.
As for a valuation, Salesforce trades at 5.7 times sales, which is low compared to other enterprise software companies like Adobe (11.3) and Autodesk (10), even though it used to trade in a range similar to its peers'.
However, Salesforce isn't close to the profitability levels of these two, which weighs into its valuation.
I'm on the fence about declaring Salesforce undervalued. While it operates in a massive and growing industry, its dominance has brought it to the point where it will likely grow at a similar rate to the overall market. As Salesforce flips the switch from growth at all costs to profitability, it may struggle with its high stock-based compensation bill.
I think this pessimism is reflected in its below-industry-average valuation. As a result, I think Salesforce shares are likely reasonably valued.
However, this doesn't mean you shouldn't buy the stock. As Warren Buffett once said, "It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price." Salesforce is a wonderful company; it just has a lot to prove before joining the ranks of highly profitable businesses.
Keithen Drury has positions in Adobe Inc. and Autodesk. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Adobe Inc., Autodesk, and Salesforce, Inc. The Motley Fool recommends SAP SE and recommends the following options: long January 2024 $420 calls on Adobe Inc. and short January 2024 $430 calls on Adobe Inc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
As tens of thousands of Salesforce partners, developers, and customers descend on its Dreamforce conference in San Francisco this year, the software giant is finding itself increasingly intertwined with another unexpected data giant: Snowflake.
Increasingly, analysis of the data generated via Salesforce is not happening on Salesforce. It's instead getting piped into Snowflake or other providers, where the work — such as building machine learning models or analyzing customer demographics and behaviors — actually happens alongside other data sources like those from Twilio's Segment. And Salesforce is addressing that uncomfortable reality with several big strategic moves.
"Set simply, the pattern we see customers doing, they need to bring in data from a lot of different sources — Salesforce included — and they need to do work," Salesforce EVP and GM of platform products Patrick Stokes told Insider in a accurate interview. "They need to build an AI model or rationalize the data in some meaningful way so they can derive some insight. Historically, Salesforce has not always been the place to do that."
First, it launched a new tool called Genie in Tuesday at its first conference since the pandemic brought in-person mega-events to a screeching halt. Genie enables customers to orchestrate a variety of tasks and update their products instantly. That can come in the form of recommendations, fraud detection, or others. Genie, too, integrates directly with Tableau, providing a way to create real-time visualizations without having to build them on top of data in Snowflake.
It also said in early September it was partnering with Snowflake, making it natively compatible and integrating it without users needing to copy data. And Salesforce on Tuesday said it is launching a direct integration with Amazon's machine learning tool SageMaker to support custom machine learning models.
At its Tableau keynote, Salesforce emphasized the company's Einstein integrations with Snowflake, with the presentation working with Snowflake data. And at a separate meeting with reporters and analysts Tuesday, co-CEO Marc Benioff took a moment to lean over and remind his co-CEO Bret Taylor to talk about its data lakehouse architecture—and how it plays nice with Snowflake.
"Snowflake has been a close partner for a while, we're going to try to be compatible for all," Taylor told Insider. "The principle of Genie is, these data lakes are huge, and customers don't want to copy data back and forth. We're trying to do zero copy architecture with partners so you can have better governance and lineage, and the chief compliance officer can wrangle that data lineage."
In short, Snowflake was everywhere. And with these moves, Salesforce is ensuring the analysis and usage of Salesforce data and its results can remain inside Salesforce's sphere of influence.
Salesforce has for the majority of its twenty-plus years of operating enjoyed both carving out and owning a large share of online enterprise tooling. Now, as dozens of startups remake the analytics ecosystem and companies collect more and more data, Salesforce has to adjust.
Salesforce now also joins several companies, including Databricks and Snowflake, as it looks to inch the world closer to a future where products and AI models update instantaneously. Investing in those instant updates can lead to outsized returns, such as a smarter product recommendation that can help close a sale.
"It really starts to show Salesforce isn't looking at products, they're not looking at individual clouds, they're saying 'how do we be that business operations platform that has to deal with engagement or personalization,'" said Liz Miller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation. "Snowflake isn't going away—it's not that you suddenly have this sigh of relief and you're like, 'we dont need Snowflake.' This is more about accessibility and being able to allow your teams to have that real-time access you need."
Snowflake declined to comment on this story.
Salesforce operates what it calls a customer data platform, based on a "data lakehouse" architecture built on the Apache Iceberg software. It enables organizations to connect other data lake tools and operate Salesforce data. Snowflake recently backed Apache Iceberg as its file format for its data lake tools, which themselves compete with Databricks' Delta Lake.
But in multiple conversations, industry insiders have been increasingly concerned about whether Salesforce users will simply do all their data analysis through platforms like Snowflake, with Salesforce's tools insufficient for the scale of data operations today. Instead, Salesforce data is part of a conglomerate of sources that land in a data warehouse like Snowflake through popular data analytics tools like Fivetran and Dbt. That data can then go into other sources like Google Cloud's Looker, or various machine learning tools.
From there, analysts and data scientists use other tools to do their work, and pipe the results back into Salesforce. The emergence of tools in the "reverse ETL (extract-transform-load)" space like Hightouch and Census have further trivialized this process and built substantial businesses.
While it isn't necessarily bad for Salesforce that customers are using data from the platform in other places, it also opens up entry points for other companies to disrupt Salesforce's other products — such as Tableau, the visualization tool it bought for $15.7 billion in 2019. Tableau is up against stiff competition, including from Looker.
Salesforce, however, has no intention of building its own data warehouse, Stokes said.
"We're not skipping the data warehouse, we're embracing it," Stokes said. "We're using that capability and integrating it with the Salesforce platform."
The explosion in machine learning tools that power products ranging from ecommerce to financial services has increased the demand for tools that power real-time data pipelines. But streaming for a long time felt like it was "coming next year" until 2022 turned out to be that "next year."
"I think a big part of what we were seeing is some really scrappy cloud-native businesses start to achieve some degree of real-time within their customer experience," Stokes said. "As some of those companies started to achieve certain parts of the experience in real-time, that changes consumer expectations everywhere."
As a result, Snowflake, Databricks, Confluent, and many other companies are chasing a world where all data is processed and updated in real time. That's in lieu of existing processes where companies update their tools with large batches of data, sometimes once or twice a day. Increasingly, the AI industry is moving to a "micro-batch" approach, with real-time updates as the natural next step.
"Streaming introduces a different velocity of data, and the way to make decisions that take advantage of that unique new frontier of data velocity is one that is not conducive to humans making these decisions," said Mike Del Balso, co-founder of $900 million real-time machine learning startup Tecton. "You can't have a human there making these decisions every time."
While Salesforce said it is largely targeting broad adoption with low-code tools that require a minimum of programming expertise, it will increasingly build connectors that will enable companies to deploy their own machine learning models may be built with outside tools like Hugging Face.
Salesforce is the number one savvy CRM platform for all types of businesses. Recognized by market leaders for CRM technology, Salesforce delivers out-of-the-box solutions by integrating the latest technology. Salesforce is committed not just to connecting with the CRM industry but also representing the future of business across diverse industries. Even though the basic functionalities of Salesforce alone help companies to stand out, integrating them with the latest technology like artificial intelligence, machine learning and many more can bring outstanding results. Salesforce’s secure and creative cloud technology allows users to be enhanced and updated with every single innovation to keep them up and running at the most pace.
As Salesforce is one of the most used CRM in various industries such as banking systems, financial services, enterprises and insurance sectors, retail, healthcare, ed tech, government and almost every other sector. The adoption rate of Salesforce development for digital services and cloud over the past two years. Due to the increased number of proficient and budget-friendly offerings, various organizations around the globe reach out to salesforce development companies in India to get better service offerings.
To efficiently leverage this platform to maintain customer relations, businesses might need a suite of compatible and quality solutions in Salesforce development. The Salesforce development companies in India offer organizational operations and promote a notable enhancement in customer retention for various industries. There are diverse Indian Salesforce consulting companies available, but it's essential to find the right Salesforce partner that provides customized solutions as per the business requirements. Examining each and everything takes sufficient time. After executing in-depth research and analysis, the team of TopSoftwareCompanies.co has shared the list of the top 10 Salesforce consulting companies in India in 2023. To make this list trustworthy, the team has researched many companies from Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Delhi and all major states in India.
The List of Top 10 Famous Salesforce Consulting Companies in India 2023
1. Hyperlink InfoSystem
Hyperlink InfoSystem established its business in 2011 as a mobile app development company that delivers top services like AI, IoT, Big Data, Salesforce, Metaverse, NFTs, and many others. With 11+ years of experience in the IT industry, the company has worked with more than 2,500+ global clients for their custom tech requirements. Hyperlink InfoSystem is recognized as one of India's leading Salesforce consulting companies. They deliver extensive Salesforce development services, including planning, designing, and implementing Salesforce solutions. Furthermore, the company analyses CRM identifies growth opportunities, and provides the best business solutions.
2. Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp.
Cognizant, which was founded in 1994, is a top supplier of Salesforce services, including design, consulting, implementation, and support. To deliver the finest project in accordance with clients' needs, they are consistently improving their Salesforce competence.
IBM enables Salesforce Einstein and IBM Watson to transform your processes by releasing the potential of data across Salesforce clouds. They carry out this activity over the whole Salesforce platform and the customer life cycle, including sales, marketing, customer service, and commerce.
Accenture is one of the top international partners for Salesforce. When it comes to developing, fostering, and advancing transformative talents using Salesforce products, they are a dependable leader. Accenture has completed over 1529 Salesforce projects. They encourage innovation to Boost how our lives function.
TCS provides customers with profitable and affordable services and enables them to make use of the full range of Salesforce products, TCS uses a broad cloud-based platform in Salesforce. With experience in several sectors, the company's staff of Salesforce certified and developers numbers over 4 million.
6. FPT Software
FPT Software is a global technology and IT services provider headquartered in Vietnam, with more than USD 513 million in revenue and 20,000 employees in 26 countries. As a pioneer in digital transformation, the company delivers world-class services in the Smart factory, Digital platforms, RPA, AI, IoT, Cloud, Salesforce, AR/VR, BPO, and more.
7. Crowe LLP
Crowe LLP is a public accounting, consulting, and technology firm with offices around the world. Crowe uses its deep industry expertise to provide audit services to public and private entities. The firm and its subsidiaries also help clients make smart decisions that lead to lasting value with its tax, advisory and consulting services, helping businesses uncover hidden opportunities in the market – no matter what challenges the markets present.
8. Grazitti Interactive
Grazitti Interactive is an international strategic partner, assisting brands to grow with their CRM strategy, paving the way for long-term growth. It is trusted for its extensive expertise, innovative solutions and products, and outstanding support throughout. Salesforce’s technology and expertise are connected together to allow them to transform your sales, marketing, and commerce cloud strategy.
Zensar has been a reputable partner for over 10 years and is a Salesforce Silver Consulting and Implementation partner. It is positioned to oversee customers' accolade-winning initiatives in the manufacturing, financial, insurance, and retail sectors.
10. HData Systems
HData Systems delivers all of today's trending innovation solutions, including Blockchain, Big Data Analytics, Data Science, Salesforce Development, Artificial Intelligence, and many more. HData Systems delivers eye-catching solutions to businesses, starting from startups to enterprises, to achieve their goals efficiently with better decision-making strategies to boost their ROI.
Disclaimer: This article is a paid publication and does not have journalistic/editorial involvement of Hindustan Times. Hindustan Times does not endorse/subscribe to the content(s) of the article/advertisement and/or view(s) expressed herein. Hindustan Times shall not in any manner, be responsible and/or liable in any manner whatsoever for all that is stated in the article and/or also with regard to the view(s), opinion(s), announcement(s), declaration(s), affirmation(s) etc., stated/featured in the same.
Bret Taylor, co-chief executive officer of Salesforce.com Inc., right, and Marc Benioff, co-chief executive officer of Salesforce.com Inc., wear rabbit ears during a keynote at the 2022 Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, California, on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022.
Marlena Sloss | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Salesforce stock rose almost 3% in extended trading on Wednesday after the enterprise software maker announced a new long-range profitability goal that showed the company's determination to operate more efficiently.
Several cloud software companies, including Salesforce, have become less compelling to investors as interest rates have risen to respond to higher prices this year, after becoming more glamorous during the Covid pandemic, when organizations boosted their use of programs employees could use without being in offices.
Management teams at cloud companies have sought to recapture interest by emphasizing cost-savings plans and pull forward their timelines for profitability. Salesforce itself said it would be more careful in adding talent.
The company went further on Thursday, as Amy Weaver, Salesforce's finance chief, revealed new targets for the 2026 fiscal year at the company's investor day, taking place in San Francisco during its Dreamforce conference. The company is aiming for a 25% adjusted operating margin, including future acquisitions, she said. That compares with the 20% target Salesforce announced one year ago for its 2023 fiscal year. The adjusted operating margin was 19.9% in the quarter that ended July 31.
Salesforce indicated that it intends to push adjusted sales and marketing spending as a percentage of revenue below 35% by 2026 through increasing self-serve efforts, alliances with partners, and productivity improvements for salespeople. In marketing, the idea is to draw on proprietary marketing channels. Sales and marketing on a GAAP basis took up over 44% as a percentage of revenue in the July quarter.
Additionally, Salesforce is hurry to manage general and administrative spending, in part by evaluating real estate assets for a hybrid workplace.
Weaver reiterated the $50 billion revenue target for fiscal 2026 that it announced one year ago, but she said that the figure now takes into account a $2 billion headwind from exchange rates since last year's investor day.
Shares of Salesforce reached a 52-week low on Wednesday. The company has begun buying back its own shares as part of its first share-repurchase program, Weaver said.