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Zero One: Salesforce Partners Must Step Up Their Game

It’s no longer enough to develop an app or deliver a service in the Salesforce ecosystem, says a Salesforce channel executive.

Business executives in the high-stakes digital transformation game don’t merely want a cloud app or service from their Salesforce channel partner – they want battle-tested solutions.

In order to deliver this, the channel, especially smaller partners, must become more than what it is today, a collection of independent software vendors (ISVs) and system integrators (SIs).

“We’re seeing the merging of the two,” says Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh, senior vice president of partner and industry innovation at Salesforce. “It’s not simply developing apps or delivering services. Now there’s kind of an in-between spectrum.”

For channel companies, at the heart of this spectrum is a repeatable solution, which Salesforce calls a “lightning bolt.” The idea behind repeatable solutions is to bring speed to technology adoption. At the same time, repeatable solutions mitigate risk for customers since they’re already proven in the field.

One of these solutions might be, say, an existing customizable industry process flow or template for service automation, Taychakhoonavudh says. A Salesforce channel partner will be able to tweak the edges of this solution and sell it to lookalike customers.

“Repeatability just means that when I do the fourth implementation of Salesforce SMB Essentials, I got it down and can do the wrappers around it,” Taychakhoonavudh says. “Even though every client feels that they are unique and special, we know that’s not always the case.”

Related: Zero One: Are Dreamforce’s Big Dreams Deferred?

Channel partners offering repeatable solutions can make some real money. By 2022, the Salesforce partner ecosystem will gain $5.18 for every dollar Salesforce earns, according to a joint IDC-Salesforce study released last month.

Thanks to cloud subscriptions, professional services, supporting software, hardware, and managed services, the Salesforce ecosystem is nearly four times bigger than Salesforce itself, the study says. In five years, it’ll be more than five times bigger.

Salesforce’s most forward-thinking channel partners, from big consultancies such as Accenture and Deloitte Consulting to midmarket ones such as Silverline, are already throwing lightning bolts. It’s the other end of the market that needs to catch up.

“Smaller channel partners are just kind of getting use to the idea,” Taychakhoonavudh says. “They’ve got their playbooks, methodologies, and things they do, but perhaps they don’t think about it in the same way – how do I reuse as much as possible?”

Today, smaller channel partners either develop an app, put it through a security review, and release it on the app exchange, or they have a completely bespoke service engagement, she says. “If you think about the spectrum, there’s a whole bunch of different stages in between.”

Related: Zero One: Car Dealership Kicks IT Consultant to the Curb, Drives to the Cloud

In the early days of the Salesforce ecosystem, Salesforce aggressively courted ISVs and SIs, but now there are thousands of each around the world. “It’s not a quantity play anymore,” Taychakhoonavudh says.

This means Salesforce partners need to bring something new to the table, namely, repeatable solutions. Even better, they should do so in hot technology areas such as the Internet of Things, analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning; important vertical industries such as manufacturing, travel, hospitality, and retail; and geographies where Salesforce isn’t well-known.

“You’ve got to build higher values, got to get out, got to make a leap of faith, because if you keep [doing the same thing], there’s a chance it’s not going to be a good outcome,” Taychakhoonavudh says. “If you’re not trying to move along with the trends and ride the wave, you’re going to miss the wave.”

Tom Kaneshige writes the Zero One blog covering digital transformation, AI, marketing tech and the Internet of Things for line-of-business executives. He is based in Silicon Valley. You can reach him at [email protected].

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