Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce recently announced that the problem with the market for CRM systems is that one of the key reasons for his company’s success is that “everyone else in CRM sucks”. With Oracle and Microsoft investing an increasing amount of resources to close the gap with Salesforce, it is likely that this was just a throw away line that was designed to taunt the competition. However, the growth of Benioff’s company (with Q2 results exceeding expectations) does raise an interesting question. As CRM becomes a core element of the modern global economy’s day to day operations, is Salesforce establishing the the beginning of an unchallengeable monopoly?
Much of the excitement and buzz generated around the digital economy at the beginning of the 21st century was about the idea of disruption and that no company, (however dominant) was stable in this new world in which innovation could turn an industry on its head over night. It appears now however that certain leading brands in the digital sector have proved themselves to be undisputed champions. Facebook has seen off competition from Snapchat, Google have made other search engines a laughing stock and Salesforce is following suit in the world of CRM. When a CEO is able to claim that a fellow competitor such as Microsoft “sucks”, you know that a monopoly has formed in that industry.
Banioff predicts that CRM will become a trillion dollar industry as its capabilities expand with greater investment in AI (most notably shown by Salesforce’s takeover of Einstein). If Salesforce continues to increase the gap over its competitors through its use of strategic investment and takeovers of companies that can aid its progress then we are likely to see one company dominate what is rapidly becoming a key part of the architecture of the digital economy.
Salesforce is rapidly expanding its capabilities and building a system that will not only help business to be more efficient but with increased integration of AI it will create companies that are able to operate faster, making better decisions which will provide a clear advantage over the competition that have not adopted the technology.
If Salesforce continues to march forward with its plans of global market domination, an important question is raised. How will companies gain an advantage over each other if they are all using the same tool?
This is where the use of experts becomes so important. Many companies pay vast amounts for CRM systems but fail to understand their full capabilities as they do not invest in people that posses the skills to utilise the system, making it work in line with the company targets and strategies. A good CRM expert can offer a far better return on investment in in the technology, helping to take the burden off staff as they work increasingly efficiently thanks to greater integration and automation. Building a smarter, more agile company is key to remaining competitive in the modern economy. CRM is key to that ability and it is therefore essential that however the market plays out, companies have access to the system expertise that will keep them a step ahead of their competitors.