Salesforce Looks to Partners to Drive Growth PlansBy Jeffrey Burt | Posted 2015-04-14 Email Print
As the SaaS company seeks to grow its industry expertise and international presence, SIs and ISVs will play a key role, according to a Salesforce executive.
Tyler Prince ticks off some of the goals Salesforce executives have set forth for the company: changing the conversation with customers to help them rethink how their businesses are run, creating a more vertical focus in Salesforce cloud services offerings and expanding the reach of the vendor internationally.
Each time, Prince points to how Salesforce's rapidly expanding ecosystem of independent software vendors (ISVs) and system integrators (SIs) and resellers will help the company reach those goals.
"Partners will play a key role in all of these," Prince, executive vice president of worldwide alliances and channels for Salesforce, said during an interview with eWEEK at the recent Salesforce World Tour event in Boston.
The Cloud Alliance Partner ecosystem was a big focus for the day-long tour, with many of the breakout sessions around such topics as driving partner and channel success, presentations by a range of partners and an expo floor that featured displays by more than four-dozen partners. The ecosystem also was a central point in the keynote address by Keith Block, president and vice chairman of Salesforce, and a question-and-answer session with journalists and analysts later in the day.
"We want to have the greatest ISV ecosystem in the world," Block said.
Salesforce partners also have been at the center of Prince's life since he took the job with the company 20 months ago, the latest step in a career in which he has been on both the consulting side (PwC, Andersen Consulting) and the IT side (Oracle, PeopleSoft). What he found when he arrived at Salesforce was a strong collection of partners—there are more than 2,800 partner applications on the company's appexchange and 1.7 million developers, for example. What he saw was an opportunity to "bring the entire ecosystem closer together" (creating a "converged partner ecosystem") to develop an environment where the partners essentially could promote each other.
For example, Deloitte consultants might be working with a business interested in using Salesforce's software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology, and in the course of the consulting work may be able to recommend third-party ISVs that also are part of the Salesforce ecosystem.
"They're not only talking about Salesforce, but also about the ISV," Prince said. "That's nirvana."
For the consultants, they're able to recommend ISVs that are familiar with Salesforce offerings, which makes their jobs easier. For ISVs like Vlocity—a smaller company that builds cloud apps for particular verticals like telecommunications, insurance and health care—working with a top-tier SI like Accenture opens them up to a possible customer base they might not have access to on their own.
"I'm able to introduce them into conversations that they wouldn't have done themselves," Prince said.
He said he has seen the partners embrace the idea that using and promoting each other is not only good for themselves, but also for the entire Salesforce business. It will be increasingly important and beneficial, given the rapid growth of the company's overall partner ecosystem, Prince said.
"I saw this as a way to differentiate [from competitors] and a way to differentiate our value to customers," he said.