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Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Marc Ferrentino, CTA Of Salesforce (Part 8)

Posted on Sunday, Jul 24th 2011

By Sramana Mitra and guest author Siddharth Garg

Marc Ferrentino: Well, yes, when I am thinking of social CRM, I am thinking of communities; I am thinking of your own communities. But not just our own; I am thinking of also engaging customers on Twitter, Facebook, and a handful of other social media platforms out there. Social CRM has also been going the other way; it has been engaging your customers and bringing them into the fold.  It’s part of the even product management process, that is why I think of social CRM and extending it out to your suppliers and distributors is, as I have mentioned before, is another example of more enterprise play. But it is still kind of comes in with the broader-based concept.

I will give you an example. Take healthcare, and let’s say you have two portals, and you have your customers, and let’s say we are talking about knee replacement or something like that or someone who builds the medical devices. They have their main website, and customers can come in and register and ask questions. Then you have to find another portal for their doctors and people who actually use that medical device. Why can’t we bring those conversations together in some cases where you have a customer coming in and asking questions, and you can link them up with the doctor, link them up with someone from the medical device company, have a three-way collaboration right there.

All of a sudden you are bringing in added value to the customer; you are helping to facilitate the conversation. That to me looks like social CRM, it is really facilitating that conversation, and everyone is joining in the conversation. It is empowering the conversation within your customer base and your partner base. Radian6 is like the discovery portion of it, just to find out who is talking about your company. It’s a conversation that you are not part of you that you would like to be a part of …

Sramana Mitra: That is now the management and analytics piece of it.

MF: Yes, it’s about engagement. I am not sure if you know the entire product line of Salesforce, but we have a charter because once again the charter was put on the platform. It inherits a lot of different aspects, everything else built on the platform and inherits the functionality. Microblogging capability, profile groups, all these kinds of social constructs that you would like to see in the community sights and so you can build it into your site.  For example, in health care, that customer, on the customer website, we can have a customer community that could be built on Salesforce, and the doctor’s Salesforce, and then since it is all sitting in a common database, you have the ability to bring those conversations together and allow people to have such conversations anywhere on mobile devices, on Facebook if you want.  That is some of the value. That is the kind of conversational platform I was talking about earlier.

SM: OK. Now, switching gears, where do you see – and this is not specific to any particular trend but just in the cloud in general – where would you point entrepreneurs toward? Where are open problems, blue-sky opportunities? You are free to be as broad or wide as possible.

MF: That is a good question, and as someone who has been an entrepreneur at one point, I am trying to think what I would say. Well, I still think there are lots of opportunities. I will give you the easy answer and try to think of a better one that is broad based but looking at the at the platform, and there is a great opportunity there, there is lots of kind of space to fill in certain types of applications  a lot of the applications in the app exchange are dominated by applications that are related to CRM and so that is not shocking considering what we sell but there is still a lot of room for the kind non-CRM kind of applications,  we have a handful of partners that you do non CRM but I think there is room for probably more room to play in.

When you are talking about HR and capital management and supply chain management, even someone who is doing all these, e-commerce shopping  in the exact nature, there is definitely still room there to play, it is definitely I think it is an area that I would love to see entrepreneurs get into and even verticalizing  verticalizing CRM, there is an area still there to play in, so whether you build a specific management solution or commerce solution or retail solution, there is also areas that could play there also.

SM: OK.

This segment is part 8 in the series : Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Marc Ferrentino, CTA Of Salesforce
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