After the article we published yesterday, a number of people have asked what the Microsoft/Salesforce global partnership announcement might mean for Salesforce and Microsoft as companies (rather than as CRM products). Financial details of the deal were undisclosed, so we can only speculate. Here are a few quick thoughts for discussion:
Longer-term: this partnership reminds me a bit of Bill Gates investing in Apple many years ago. If Salesforce can survive and rethink the cost structure of their business, they will likely remain a worthy competitor.
My personal belief is that Salesforce has created some unnatural forces in the CRM marketplace. In order to stay competitive with what Salesforce is doing, Microsoft has had to make some surprising acquisitions. Will the acquisitions made by Salesforce and Microsoft ultimately be good for the industry and the products overall? My personal opinion is that these will not result in delivering the best product to the customer. A company focused on developing a CRM product is not likely to make investments in expanding ancillary add-on products – that is better left to third parties. Let’s look at two examples:
Does this mean that you shouldn’t avail yourself of these great new offerings by both companies? Of course not – right now they’re the best decision you can make if you need those features. But it does mean that, longer-term, you will likely be frustrated when you need a new capability and it takes years for it to be added to the solution that you’re using … with no integrated third party offerings available either.
So my personal hope is that this partnership will help Salesforce to rethink their financial, acquisition, and sales strategies. It would be great to see Salesforce become a solid and profitable competitor. And it would be great to see a flourishing market of third party tools that integrate with BOTH of these great CRM tools (and others too).
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