Fremont at Lake Station, 6:30 p.m.
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.
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 Strengthen 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 specialists 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.
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In the world of SaaS (software as a service), there are a few different types of companies. You have your vertical market software companies, think Unity (U) and Constellation Software (OTCPK:CNSWF), both of which I’ve written about at length. And you have horizontal market software companies that serve a variety of verticals - SAP SE (SAP) and Oracle (ORCL) are good examples of those.
And then there’s the third type of software: Microsoft Corporation (MSFT).
Why is Microsoft in a category of its own? Because Microsoft is virtually an HMS bundle monopoly.
Let me explain.
Remember Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (ZM)? How about DocuSign, Inc. (DOCU)? These two pandemic darlings were all the rage in 2020, but sales growth has nearly fizzled out and investors have begun to flee. Microsoft did not escape the 2022 tech crash, either, but it fared much better than Zoom and DocuSign, to say the least…
So what happened to Zoom and DocuSign? What does this all have to do with Salesforce, Inc. (NYSE:CRM)? Because I believe Salesforce is replicating just what made Microsoft so successful. Furthermore, I believe they’ve reached “escape velocity” and can’t be crushed the same way Microsoft has so often crushed its horizontal market competitors. (Looking at you, Zoom)...
Let’s back up a bit. Remember those vertical market companies I mentioned just a bit earlier? Let’s talk about what makes those special, and differentiates them from HMS companies, Salesforce and Microsoft included.
You see, vertical markets companies usually target a small niche, like software to manage your local bowling alley, or funeral home scheduling software, markets so small they don’t interest the likes of Microsoft. Sure Microsoft could make better software than what’s on the market, but why waste the time when the total addressable market ("TAM") may only be $1-10mm? Unity started as software to build FPS video games on the Mac, markets like that simply lack the economic sense for a company like Microsoft to enter.
But horizontal markets like spreadsheets, presentations, or document storage solutions? You better bet Microsoft will be all over that. And it’s no surprise, when the prize is in the multi-billions it makes sense to devote the best, and majority of your resources, to that goal.
It’s because of that “prize” (large TAM) that P/E firms and tech investors are fine foregoing profitability today, because they believe the longer they wait to pursue profitability, the more of that future pie they will take. Delayed gratification.
Internal Capital aka Cash Flow, that’s what.
That’s where Microsoft shines. The cash flow from Azure and Office gives them the capital they need to build new services like Teams which are crushing software products like Zoom. Think about it from the perspective of a manager, you love Zoom, but Teams is half the price because you are already on the office bundle, so why bother with another solution?
It’s no wonder why Peter Theil has been quoted as saying:
[To build a successful startup] You have to be 10 times better than second best.
Is Zoom 10x better than Teams, probably not, is it 20% better?… probably. But that doesn’t move the needle on sales.
Other companies employ a similar strategy to Microsoft, epic games, for example, uses the funds from its smash-hit Fortnite to build its game development tool Unreal. Internal capital is a powerful tool.
That’s great, but what does any of this have to do with Salesforce?
I’m happy you asked!
It’s because Salesforce too has replicated that strategy but has given it its own unique Salesforce flavor. What’s that flavor? Acquisitions. Epic and Microsoft funnel cash flow from profitable business segments to less profitable segments internally. Salesforce focuses on acquisitions (and internal growth).
Now many companies do acquisitions, including Microsoft. Just look at that massive Activision deal. But for Salesforce, acquisitions are an integral part of their strategy.
Some investors hate acquisitions, they see them as value-destroyers, as the acquiring firm is usually forced to pay a hefty premium on the target it acquires. Others love acquisitions. Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) is a case study of acquisitions gone right.
My view? I’m acquisition-agnostic. If a company can employ valuations in a manner that drives value for shareholders, I’m all for it. Salesforce has cracked that code in a manner that many other companies have not.
I won’t rehash the stats here, but Salesforce has acquired a great deal of software companies, often for billions of dollars. If you’d like to read more about the individual deals, I’d shift your attention here.
What I would like to talk address is how these deals have driven shareholder value. Salesforce has been critiqued in the past for overpaying on takeovers, and Slack is a good example of that, at 26x sales investors scratched their heads. But what investors miss is the benefit of being in the Salesforce ecosystem. Just as Microsoft can leverage its office suite to push their Teams software, so too can Salesforce use its other software, like its namesake CRM software, to push Slack. This concept of bundling is what makes Microsoft, and now Salesforce, such a powerful force in the HMS world.
Bundled software creates a strong flywheel effect.
Salesforce has reached the point where its own bundle of products, cannot be threatened in the same way Zoom can by Microsoft, Salesforce has its own bundles. Just like how Microsoft can offer Teams at a discount to office customers, so too can Salesforce offer slack to its CRM customers.
As Salesforce continues to acquire businesses, this “sales force” continues to strengthen as the flywheel effect is further strengthened.
For now, let’s shift our attention to the financials of both companies.
Both Microsoft and Salesforce have had strong revenue growth over the last 5 years. Salesforce’s growth has been exceptionally strong as they’ve grown through issuing equity to target companies alongside using internal capital.
On a per share basis, CFO growth has been relatively comparable between the two companies. Both have roughly doubled over the past 5 years and have continued to grow even in the face of a very challenging macro environment. Given the similarity of their business models, seeing such similar financial results does not surprise me much.
Now that we’ve gone through the financials, I will present you with my valuation for Salesforce. Let me first preface this with some more context, in my articles I usually employ two methods, a P/E comparison, and FCF (free cash flow) Discount Model. For the sake of Salesforce, I’m performing just the DCF (discounted cash flow) component. If I were to employ a P/E comparison I believe it would skew the results because Salesforce keeps its earnings low as part of its strategy to reinvest into the business. Also, pertaining to the DCF, I am factoring in an expectation for acquisitions to continue, albeit at a slower pace than they previously had occurred.
Base Case Assumptions:
Growth rate for next 7 Years (excl. 2022 & 2023)
Terminal Growth Rate
Intrinsic Value per Share ($USD)
Current Share Price ($USD)
Source: Yahoo Finance Authors Estimates & Calculations
In my base case, I’m assuming revenue growth of 17% over the next 7 years excluding 2022, and 2023. This is somewhat slower than what they have historically been able to achieve (20%+) but I wanted to err on the side of conservatism due to the unknown nature of future acquisitions and any potential impact to share count.
As you can see above, Salesforce’s shares are roughly at fair value, perhaps slightly undervalued. But that doesn’t paint the whole picture. For my final take on valuation, please refer to the conclusion.
Before I deliver my final assessment on Salesforce let me highlight the biggest risk I am concerned with: tightening financial conditions (perhaps that is a bit of a euphemism).
As rates have risen, valuations continue to compress across the tech sector. On one hand, as an acquirer, this benefits Salesforce vis-à-vis lower prices. But on the other hand, it may slow the pace of acquisitions, as target companies become more hesitant to sell in a period of lower valuations. Historically, salesforce has acquired companies using a mixture of stock and cash, obviously, with shares much lower than they were last year, the stock portion is much more expensive to issue than it once was. Given the FCF generative nature of Salesforce’s business, they should be able to at least, partially mitigate these concerns.
Since Salesforce is so reliant on acquisitions to fuel growth, investors should pay attention to how the tightening financial conditions wind up affecting the M&A market. P/E firms are still active in the market, but would-be sellers are nervous. The jury is still out on this one.
Microsoft shareholders best watch out, there’s a “new” kid on the block. He’s scrappy, he’s smart, and he moves fast. And his name is Salesforce. Salesforce doesn’t play by your traditional growth by acquisition playbook, it follows its own rules.
Step 1. Acquire. Step 2. Bundle. 3. Forego profit now, in exchange for more profit later.
The macro-economic environment is a legitimate concern but Salesforce, at least to this investor, looks like a company with a secular growth story that is still very much intact, it looks like a company that will continue to grow despite the headwinds.
On the valuation front, the discounted cash flow analysis points to Salesforce being a company that is approximately fairly valued. But a large part of that is due to the conservatism that I have baked into my DCF, should Salesforce execute on their flywheel, 17% growth may be much too slow, and margins may grow much faster than anticipated.
In short, the “bundle” factor is immune to rising rates.
I rate Salesforce as a “Buy” with a 1-year price target of $165.
As always, thank you for taking the time out of your day to read my article, all feedback and comments are welcome. I try to engage with all of my readers so if something sparked your interest feel free to let me know in the comment section and I will do my best to get back to each of you with a response. Have a fantastic rest of your day/evening!
Salesforce, the titanic San Francisco corporate software company, is conducting layoffs — a first this year for the tech behemoth.
Details remain sparse, but according to Protocol and a laid-off employee who posted on LinkedIn, about 90 employees were affected. (A majority of the affected staffers were contractors in the company's recruiting department, a Salesforce spokesperson told SFGATE; as we’ve previously noted, Salesforce has been vague about whether contracted workers count as “employees,” or “Ohana.”)
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.
It’s been a big week for Salesforce. Its annual Dreamforce 2022 conference — which saw an estimated 40,00 in-person attendees — delivered some big innovations and announcements. According to the keynote presentation from CEO Marc Benioff, Salesforce is one the biggest enterprise software companies in the world, including the leader in cloud-based CRM. Its impressive growth in the last few years shows no signs of slowing as the company pushed its long-term revenue target to more than $50 billion by 2026 in its investor day event that took place during Dreamforce.
The company made a bevy of announcements at the event, but two major announcements caught my attention, warranting further analysis: Salesforce Genie and Slack Canvas. The first will completely shift Salesforce’s existing CRM to enable real-time capabilities, applications, and uses that weren’t possible before. The latter will help the company finally realize the potential of its Slack acquisition and increase its ability to compete with the likes of Microsoft and an ever-growing collaboration marketplace for an even larger piece of the business tech pie–Something that has been part of the Salesforce talk track for some time, but is now much more within reach. Let’s break these down.
Salesforce called its new Salesforce Genie offering its “biggest innovation in 20 years.” The goal, like every other CRM on the market today, is to create a real-time single source of truth for businesses so that they can create hyper-personalized content and, in turn, create tighter relationships with customers. From one day to the next, businesses use hundreds of different apps to move their companies forward. In the past, uniting the disparate information from all of these different sources has been nearly impossible. But Salesforce Genie aims to conquer the issue for good, pooling and harmonizing data, as the announcement put it, into a clearly reconciled, comprehensive customer portrait.
Salesforce Genie in effect is a data integration model that works with Salesforce’s existing CRM platform. It aims to move data where it is needed at the right time. This will turn the CRM into a real-time data, insight, and action machine which, until now, has only been an aspiration and not a reality.
In an era when third-party data tracking is on the outs, Salesforce Genie could be a huge asset. It could help businesses match the right audiences with the right products on the right channels at precisely the right time. A silver bullet for marketing and customer experience, which is perhaps why Salesforce likes to refer to it as “Magic” in a way. Genie has the potential to be the force that finally allows all of Salesforce’s disparate tools to work together in the way customers have always hoped they would. Also, for those wondering: Eventually, Genie powers will also be added to other Salesforce tools like MuleSoft and Tableau.
Initial thoughts on the Genie announcement are that Salesforce knows it’s facing growing competition in the CDP and CRM world. Combined with Einstein AI, as well as recent flexible public cloud data deployments and integrations with Hyperforce, Salesforce is making it clear that it has zero plans of letting any part of its market share go. However, any first mover advantage here will be short-lived as I fully expect its competition in Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, and others to continue pushing for greater real time and AI capabilities. Furthermore, pricing will be in focus as well as enterprise pricing for Genie versus value will surely be in focus as the offering hits the market.
While Genie was the main headline, I was personally more intrigued by the advancements that were made by Slack and Salesforce. I’ve long felt that Salesforce had a compelling suite of offerings that could truly realize what it is calling the “Digital HQ,” however, it has lacked the complete vision and tools within Slack to meet the evolving landscape of work patterns and collaboration in its previous iterations.
Despite that, Since the acquisition last year, Salesforce has been touting integrations that will maximize productivity and enable flexible work in one environment. And while that wasn’t really the case before–especially in comparison to the comprehensiveness of Microsoft Teams, I do think it is becoming a reality with the advent of Huddles and now Salesforce Canvas, a new surface where work teams can organize and share information from multiple sources. The workspace is envisioned to be a digital headquarters where teams can connect conversations, apps, and automations in one place. According to the Dreamforce presentation, there are more than 2,500 apps in Slack, and the goal is for all of them to work in Canvases in the future.
The move is a smart one for Slack — and the first big announcement since the acquisition. In the past, its bookmarks and pins left a lot to be desired. They were hard to use if they were used at all. Canvas will connect systems of productivity with systems of record, allowing teams to get information quickly, generate time-saving automations, build low and no code apps, and better serve customers — all without leaving Slack. The impressive solution, which has been in beta testing for some time, will allow users to compile files, messages, and multimedia into a template that can be stored and accessed later.
In case you’re having trouble understanding how a Canvas would work in real life, imagine the employee onboarding process. With Canvas, HR can easily create a Canvas with every link, training video, document, etc. that a new hire needs to know with limited tech knowledge needed. You can even embed workflows on every Canvas page that could order new employee requirements like mobile devices, laptops, business cards, and other requirements in a seamless manner without ever leaving Slack.
In focusing on forward-facing developments like Genie and Canvas, it seems clear that Salesforce is aware of the growing competition in the CRM/CDP space and likewise intends to feverishly defend its CRM market position.
These announcements, along with the others that came out this week, showcase Salesforce’s continued and strong focus on growth. At the end of August, the company announced Q2 revenue of $7.2 billion, up 22 percent year over year. And while both of these new announcements won’t be in GA until sometime in 2023, it’s looking probable based upon the company’s recent forecast revision that the numbers will continue to climb over the next several quarters. Salesforce has a track record of delivering outsized results, and while there were many valuable updates and announcements at this year’s Dreamforce, my belief is that its Salesforce Genie and Slack Canvas have the potential to be momentum builders for Salesforce and will be critical to the company continuing to realize strong growth as we head into an even more complex macro and business environment.
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Valparaiso at Lake Central, 7 p.m.
West Side at Indianapolis Attucks, 7 p.m.
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Whiting at Boone Grove, 7 p.m.
Marian Catholic at Brother Rice, 7:30 p.m.
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Hammond Central vs. Madison at Greenwood, 1 p.m.
Salesforce is the most successful SaaS company in the world. AWS is the biggest infrastructure player, and the two giants have gotten together over the years whenever it makes sense. As a couple of examples, the two signed an agreement in 2016 for Salesforce to use AWS infrastructure. In 2018, they got together to make it easier to exchange data between the two platforms.
This year, they are extending the partnership yet again with an announcement this week at Dreamforce in San Francisco. This one involves moving Salesforce data to SageMaker where customers can build machine learning models based on that data. When they’re done, they can move it back to Salesforce where Einstein can use that model to drive intelligent tasks.
The whole process is made possible by Genie, the data integration layer the company announced yesterday.
Rahul Auradkar, EVP and GM for unified data services and Einstein at Salesforce, says certain customers have built workflows in SageMaker and they wanted to make it easy for them to work where they are most comfortable, while taking advantage of the data inside Salesforce to build their models.
He says that it starts with moving the data from the Salesforce CDP into SageMaker using Genie as the data conduit. “From there you build the model and then we meet the data scientists where they are, essentially enabling data scientists to use their familiar tools on SageMaker to build their models. Then, they can bring the models into Einstein and run the inferencing there,” he said.
Liz Miller, an analyst at Constellation Research, says the partnership benefits Salesforce customers in a couple of ways. “For those who have data and analytics teams and have been working on AI and models, this makes it easy to bring those models to Genie and open up those models to the mass of data Genie can hold. This has been a request from customers, especially large enterprise customers, from what Salesforce execs have told me,” she said.
She adds, “For many customers, and we hear this often, models and especially AI models and projects can stall because they can only be let loose on limited data sets or not enough customer data to reach a satisfying level of decision velocity. So this partnership connects the models to the last mile of learning.”
It could also simply involve comfort with SageMaker as a customer’s model building tool of choice, or it could possibly be because the model uses both customer data and other external data. As an example, a healthcare company may use customer data in conjunction with clinical trial data stored in an external repository outside of Salesforce and they want to build the model using both types of data inside SageMaker.
“The SageMaker integration enables these organizations to use custom AI models that leverage real-time customer data from Salesforce and clinical trial research together,” a company spokesperson explained.
While Einstein comes with many intelligent processes such as finding the most likely customer to buy, or conversely, the most likely to churn, there are often going to be customized scenarios that won’t be available out of the box, and being able to move various types of data into a model in SageMaker and then back into Salesforce could prove useful for a number of customers.
The Genie announcement this week will likely lead to similar partnerships over time beyond this one, as other companies look to take advantage of Salesforce data in their workflows.
Bret Taylor, co-CEO of Salesforce, speaks at the Viva Technology Conference in Paris on June 15, 2022.
Nathan Laine | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Ten months after his promotion to co-CEO of Salesforce, serving alongside famed founder Marc Benioff, Bret Taylor is gearing up to take the stage at the annual Dreamforce conference for the first time under his new title.
A career technologist with a master's degree in computer science from Stanford, Taylor acknowledged to CNBC that Salesforce's big product unveiling for this year's event is "unabashedly geeky." It's called Genie, and it's designed to update Salesforce's dominant sales database software with modern technology that gives salespeople real-time information at their fingertips.
"We're really adding a new technology capability to our platform," Taylor said in an interview. Taylor and Benioff will deliver their keynote on Tuesday, starting at 10 a.m. Pacific Time in San Francisco.
To some degree, Salesforce is acknowledging that its existing systems have gotten somewhat dated. The 23-year-old company's original data storage software functions with a transactional database from Oracle, where Benioff spent 13 years before starting Salesforce. The world has become far more complex in the intervening decades, and companies are flocking to databases that can process data from many more sources and enable speedier decisions.
Salesforce's move toward Genie began in 2019, when the company introduced a customer data platform, or CDP, that marketers can use to collect data on clients before sending them ads. With Genie, marketers will have the very latest information available through Salesforce's Marketing Cloud.
Taylor said that, over time, Genie will be integrated into Salesforce's other key products — its clouds for sales, service and commerce. Companies can pay to add Genie capabilities to their existing Salesforce installations, a spokesperson said.
Taylor, a co-creator of Google Maps who also led Facebook's technology group before joining Salesforce in 2016 through the acquisition of his startup Quip, is under some pressure from Wall Street as rising interest rates and the threat of recession lead investors out of growth stocks. Salesforce shares have tumbled 40% this year, more than double the drop by the S&P 500, and are trading near their lowest since April 2020.
Salesforce vs. S&P 500
In its earnings report last month, Salesforce trimmed its full-year expectations for profit and revenue. It now expects sales growth for the year of roughly 17%, down from 25% in the last fiscal year, which would mark by far the slowest pace of expansion since the company went public in 2004.
Taylor also has a lot going on outside of Salesforce. He's the chairman of Twitter, which is embroiled in a heated and very public legal battle with Elon Musk that will determine the future of the social media company. Twitter is suing Musk to try and enforce the Tesla CEO's acquisition agreement that he subsequently attempted to terminate.
Taylor declined to talk about the ordeal itself and said it "doesn't come up a lot" when he meets with Salesforce clients. And that's how he spends most of his time.
With the Genie addition, Salesforce will bolster the capabilities of Einstein, the company's artificial intelligence engine that runs in Sales Cloud and other applications. Einstein can recommend which business opportunities are most likely to convert into sales, and Genie will pull in the most recent information, so suggestions are drawn from data in seconds, and soon, in just milliseconds.
Genie will also work in Tableau, the data analytics tool that Salesforce acquired in 2019, making charts as current as possible.
Salesforce's rivals in marketing software, including Adobe and Oracle, have been touting the importance of real-time content data platforms that can draw on a variety of data and respond to the most recent impulses of current and potential clients. Salesforce is trying to bring those capabilities to other departments, like customer service.
Sheryl Kingstone, vice president of customer experience and commerce at S&P Global's technology industry research unit 451 Research, said she's not surprised that Salesforce has been working to bring real-time data across its entire lineup.
"I was more shocked it took so long," she said.
At least since 2017, Salesforce executives have been promoting a concept called Customer 360, which involves serving up a patchwork of information on each customer to provide better treatment. The problem was that data on events wasn't getting piped into the system as they were happening. Taylor is familiar with that criticism.
"I've heard that feedback before," he said. Taylor added that with the "technological breakthrough" of Genie, that shouldn't be an issue in the future.
First Horizon Bank in Memphis, Tennessee, implemented Salesforce's CDP platform earlier this year. The software helps the bank orient new customers and pitch them on mortgages, and it's more reactive to behavior than the manual and batch-processed system First Horizon relied on in the past, said Erin Pryor, the bank's marketing chief. Unlike online ads that can make some people feel as if they're being followed a little too closely, Pryor said this level of product targeting is welcomed by consumers.
"I don't think there's ever going to be a complaint about your institution knowing you and really being able to deliver you content and advice on things that are important to you," Pryor said.
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