Salesforce.com customers making broader investments, survey says

The 'State of Salesforce' report arrives days before the cloud vendor's annual Dreamforce conference

Salesforce.com's customers have become more loyal and committed to using products from the vendor and its partners over the past year, according to a new report from consulting firm Bluewolf in collaboration with the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Some 90 percent of the 450 respondents said their Salesforce.com investment is "more valuable to their company today than it was a year ago," according to the "State of Salesforce" study.

Sixty-nine percent said they plan to spend more money on Salesforce.com-related products moving forward, with 27 percent saying that budget would remain flat and only 4 percent planning to slow down spending on Salesforce.com.

Other survey results indicated many companies see Salesforce.com as a development platform and not just a CRM (customer relationship management) application. Sixty percent of respondents intend to spend more money creating custom applications with Salesforce.com's platform, and 52 percent have already or are going to build custom mobile software with its tools.

Salesforce.com's main marketing theme of late has centered on the notion of "customer companies," wherein Salesforce.com's growing set of sales, social media, marketing and support software can help enterprises build deeper relationships with buyers and partners and ultimately benefit their bottom line.

The message is apparently resonating on some level with Salesforce.com's user base, judging from the new study. Eighty-four percent of respondents said they believed that "customer engagement" will become more important than productivity when it comes to growing a business.

Ninety percent of respondents are using the core CRM software Salesforce.com is known for, but 57 percent have invested in its Service Cloud. Another 42 percent are using Salesforce.com's Marketing Cloud catalog, which it has built up by spending billions on acquisitions such as ExactTarget.

In contrast, only 9 percent of respondents are using Salesforce.com Communities, although 21 percent said they plan to buy licenses in the next year.

Salesforce.com customers are also taking interest in the company's AppExchange marketplace, where partners can offer their own applications for sale. Ninety-one percent of respondents have installed at least one AppExchange product and 29 percent have at least five, according to the survey.

The hottest products on the AppExchange lately center on analytics, forecasting, mobility and data cleansing, with mass email tools "cooling off," the survey found.

This is the second year Bluewolf, which provides Salesforce.com implementation services, has released the State of Salesforce survey.

It arrives shortly before Salesforce.com's annual Dreamforce event, which kicks off next weekin San Francisco. This year, Dreamforce is expected to draw 120,000 in-person and virtual attendees, up from 90,000 last year.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

Tags Internet-based applications and servicesapplicationsCustomer Relationship ManagementSalesforce.comCIO roleit strategysoftwareinternetcloud computingIT managementBluewolf

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Chris Kanaracus

IDG News Service

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