By Sramana Mitra and guest author Siddharth Garg
Marc Ferrentino: Does that make sense?
Sramana Mitra: Yes, that makes sense.
MF: It is not easy. I am trying to make it simple but it really is not easy. It is an incredible technical challenge, but this is part of that of what we do. We have been doing this for the past 12 years.
SM: Yes, but the pace has increased significantly of late, right? In the past couple of years you have acquired a lot more, and it seems like that is definitely part of the strategy. The M&A strategy is very much part of the Salesforce.com build-out, so this is a central question.
MF: Yes, it is a central question, and the way I describe it is that when you think about it, there is not one size that fits all; we look at each acquisition we bring on, and we try to get as much as we can out of the existing platform services. We will bring this other technology on, and that allows us to move pretty quickly. Our ability to consume and integrate has gotten really good. [Laughs.] I don’t know the exact duration, but the first acquisition we ever made took a little while to bring it out to the platform, and then as we issued subsequent releases and made subsequent acquisitions, we got faster.
The best way to look at it is to look at things like Sitemasher technology that we purchased. If you look at the time of acquisition and announcements that the thing went beta, in some cases you are talking about nine months to a year, and that is incredible. Take an organization, bringing in technology and offer to our customers, and when I say we are offering to them, it is not offered within the context of overall Salesforce.com platform.
SM: Definitely the Salesforce.com execution has been fantastic, and a lot of the CIOs whom I have talked to have been raving, really raving, about Salesforce.com and the vision and leadership the company brings to the market, so congratulations on that.
MF: Thank you.
SM: Let me ask you a few other questions about trends, and then I want to pick your brain about where you see the entrepreneurial opportunities. Now, one trend that is prevalent right now is social CRM, and you bought Radian6 as a response to that. Following our earlier conversation about the extended enterprise, we have a company, for instance, in One Million by One Million called CrowdEngineering, and they do crowdsourced customer support, as in a call center. You have level one, level two, and level three customer support. Well, they are saying they are bringing in level zero customer support, which is online customer support where queries are answered by expert customers.
They integrate with the full system or the CRM systems, the knowledge bases and everything, around this particular workflow, and it is a very interesting idea, execution and implementation. They already have large enterprises customer and so forth, so what I am seeing are interesting takes from entrepreneurs on the notion of social CRM. Would you comment on what you are seeing and what you would like to see, perhaps?
MF: OK! How do I kind of answer this? Social CRM is a great term. I guess when you look at various crowdsourcing companies, when you are talking about whether it is something like a LiveOps or other crowdsourced company, and called part of the human cloud, I guess I don’t think of it as social CRM, although maybe you could, actually.
SM: LiveOps is not a CRM. LiveOps is a home-based agent operation, and they kind of collect a lot of home-based agents and they have created an architecture that enables these agents to plug seamlessly into operations. So, I wouldn’t call LiveOps a CRM company, but the one I described is good example of something that is social CRM. There are other companies. There is one called Lithium and another called Jive, and they do this kind of forum-based social CRM. There are few other different types of instances I have seen of that would fit more the bill of social CRM.