Salesforce.com Silicon Valley City Tour

I had a chance to participate on a panel at the salesforce.com city tour in Santa Clara last week. I would say there were roughly 500 people in the audience, and it was fun for me to present as a salesforce customer. I was on the panel with Doug Harr, the CIO of Ingres, the Open Source database company, who is also a client of Intacct and Salesforce.
Doug is a great spokesperson for the SaaS movement, if you haven't heard him speak before. Ingres' strategy is to run a complete SaaS and Open Source infrastructure - what amazed me is that he's running a very large business with only 2 full time employees supporting all of his front-office and back office applications- including financials, marketing, CRM, business intelligence and everything else. At Postini we had closer to 10 people just trying to keep Oracle financials running. What I thought was even better was that as a CIO Doug doesn't see this as threatening - he sees it as empowering since he's out of the business of maintaining and operating software and can focus on more strategic things. I really liked what he had to say.

At Intacct we're using a lot of Salesforce - probably too much. We use it in sales, marketing, channels and customer support, and we use salesforce automation, call center, content, and the partner portal for more than 100 partners. We've got it all linked through Intacct Max into our Intacct financial system so when our salespeople are ready to close a deal the opportunity information automatically gets transmitted to Intacct and gets booked as an order, and then all of the financial information associated with the order like order status, provisioning status, billing and payment gets sent back over to salesforce. The finance department likes this because they don't have to type in duplicate information, and the sales and support people like it because they know what is going on with their clients right in salesforce.

I use Salesforce every day to see how our business is doing. The main thing I don't like about Salesforce is the lack of historical content - I can see what is in the system now, but I can't compare this to what was in the system a month ago, a quarter ago, or a year ago, to see for example how our marketing funnnal and sales pipelines are trending over time. One of these days I need to look at Ken Rudin's on-demand Business Intelligence company LucidEra which fills this gap.


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