The recent news that Salesforce achieved revenue growth of 26% in the fourth quarter of 2014 reflects a definite shift in the way that companies are adopting software solutions to underpin their expansion plans and help them manage and maximise big data. Unsurprisingly Salesforce put its growth in sales down to widespread adoption amongst mid-sized businesses.
Research firm IDC has predicted that enterprise applications will drive software market growth of around 6% for at least the next three year and this is backed up by analysis from Gartner that shows that companies of all sizes are looking to implement net-new applications. So Salesforce is indicative of a much broader upward trend.
Software that is straightforward to deploy, with virtually no impact on existing solutions or legacy systems, and usually in the form of software-as-a-service, is stimulating this steady expansion. IDC points out that leveraging the social dimension of the Internet is fuelling collaboration growth, and most software development companies focused on solutions that will work alongside and complement Salesforce would agree.
Where Salesforce has become the standard for recording customer data enabling CRM, other software solutions add value by providing insight and intelligence distilled from everything the Internet has to offer on companies and their activities. This interface is proving powerful, allowing users to ‘colour in’ and enhance Salesforce to their benefit.
All of this is brewing up a perfect storm – a confluence of data from both Salesforce and software developers – which instead of overwhelming sales managers is being channelled and combined with analytics magic that delivers actionable insights and the opportunity to connect with customers that we couldn’t have dreamed possible just a few years ago. In addition, these dedicated software solutions are sustainable, scalable, flexible and offer real value for money.
This is reflected in the rapidly emerging world of social selling, where sales people use software that aggregates information from the web and social media to help them better target, listen, connect and engage with customers. Whilst some users are still experimenting, others are achieving tangible results that are demonstrating a return on investment and consequently social selling, and the tools that support it are enabling the sector to grow, to the extent that it is predicted to go mainstream in 2015. This will deliver unique opportunities for sales teams, allowing them to realise the full potential of this powerful new tool in their sales armoury. As a result, social selling software will mature rapidly following in the footsteps of Salesforce.