Spent the day in NYC at the Salesforce World Tour NYC. I sat in on the keynote at 10am by President Keith Block. For someone who doesn’t know an awful lot about Salesforce other than they offer SaaS CRM which gets pricey as you add-on function – the keynote was interesting. It also featured a surprise Q&A session with ex-NY Yankee player Derek Jeter. Here are my thoughts.
Salesforce announced 20,000 total attendance over the three days. The room that the keynote was in seemed at least as big and well attended as the Sage Summit keynotes. By my unofficial guess that means 5,000 – 8,000 in the keynote.
Remember – this is only a regional show for Salesforce. Their major show – Dreamforce – is in September and attracts over 135,000. For 2015 Salesforce is renting a cruise ship for housing during the conference. ( http://www.businessinsider.com/salesforce-hires-the-dream-boat-for-dreamforce-2015-3 ).
A couple of my novice takeaways about the conference:
a. Salesforce wants to be a platform. There was very little talk about CRM or CRM campaigns, etc. It was all mobile and apps and marketing and analytics and integrating with non Salesforce apps. As such I see Salesforce’s main competitor being Microsoft – they seem to be the closest to offering such a platform as well – albeit much of it with on-premises software (which is changing).
b. Where most of the current ERP VARS make livings doing implementation, setup and training with traditional ERP – the way forward with a product like Salesforce is much more business process consulting and development. Kiss training and break/fix goodbye because they will be leaving the typical consultant’s vocabulary.
c. The keynote from all executives was super polished. No prompter. No notes. No stumbling. No awkward demos. Block started off on a circular stage (The stage was in the round as Sage did for their customers) and quickly hopped off stage and spent the rest of the time in the audience. When he had customer interviews he magically wandered until he was standing near where the people were seated. Ok so the people were seated in relatively the same area – but still it was slick. Slick. Slick. Reminds me a lot of a much more subdued and polished Steve Ballmer.
D. Everything in the keynote was about customer value. Nothing went off into technical jargon about how something worked. It all just worked. There were a few demos but all of them were very brief (under 3 minutes).
E. The trade show (cloud expo) was a mess. Just people everywhere. I’m not sure on the numbers of exhibitors but 150 would probably be relatively close. Salesforce offered lunch in the form of grinders, chips and soda. No place at all to sit and eat or do much of anything. Clearly Salesforce wanted you into the expo and talking to vendors. There were a few meeting rooms available toward the back of the expo but most people milled around bumping and tripping over each other.
After the keynote I stopped by the Sage booth where they were demonstrating Sage Life – or at least portions of Sage Life.
Here are the new things that I learned (some of this may not be new to you):
A. Sage Life will be built on a new accounting system. It’s not feeding from traditional Sage ERP. It is also not using Sage One or Sage One Extra. No answer as to why. I didn’t dig further because Sage is still apparently developing the accounting portion of Sage Life – possibly with some assistance from Salesforce.
B. The overall demo is dashboards on an iPad. Looks slick. The devil will be in the details since the engine to all that slick UI — the accounting system– by all indications is still under development.
C. July was mentioned as the release target – though not by Sage. However I’m fairly sure Sage have said they’ll have something by Summit – and July is Summit. As to whether it will be a controlled release/early adopter/VIP or something similar I’m not sure. If I were to bet I’d guess it will be more of an early release and Sage will push to finish anything that can be marketed as standalone.
D. Seeing 20,000 people attend a local NYC stop on the Salesforce World Tour (over 135,000 are expected in September for the annual conference) makes me think that this is going to give Sage some good exposure.
E. Biggest issue? In my mind it’s that Sage is writing an accounting system from the ground up. So far as I know the only other “ground up” system that Sage have written is Sage One. The others (including X3) were largely acquired. I’m willing to be corrected and will update this post if I’ve overlooked something. Writing a ground up accounting suitable for 10-100 employee companies is no small task.
Overall based on the attendance at the Salesforce conference there appears to be strong demand for a Sage Life type of product. I believe that partners will need to view Sage Life as a new customer acquistion product versus a product that an existing ERP customer migrates to.
Sage is making big bets on Sage Life. Sage recently announced relocation of their headquarters from Irvine CA to Atlanta GA as well as the opening of their first Customer Business Center. This is a strategy that I’ve started referring to as “Go Big or Go Home”.I believe Sage is going to see significant positive results from this project or significant consequences if the product falls short. I don’t believe there will be an in between. Stay tuned for more of Sage Life at Sage Summit 2015 in New Orleans July 27-30, 2015.