Salesforce: Partners 'Integral to Our Strategy'

Salesforce: Partners 'Integral to Our Strategy'

At Dreamforce on Tuesday, it is clear that Salesforce sees itself as very different from other cloud vendors.  

Despite everything we talk about in technology – the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, drone-delivered burritos – there is still one thing that sets a successful company apart from the rest that isn’t strictly related. And that is culture.

At Dreamforce on Tuesday, the massive Salesforce conference that will bring 170,000 people into San Francisco over the next four days, it is clear that the company sees itself as very different from other cloud vendors.

From the woodland-themed keynote rooms to the word “Ohana” - Hawaiian for family - being thrown around by its top execs, Salesforce takes itself a bit less seriously than its enterprise counterparts. But it’s not without strategy.

Tyler Prince, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Alliances and Channels at Salesforce, said that the Salesforce ecosystem is “fun” and that the Ohana spirit guides Salesforce, encouraging partners and customers to treat each other and Salesforce as family. (Albeit, a very large family).

“[Salesforce’s] partner ecosystem is always quick and ready to embrace innovation to help our customers be successful,” Prince said in a partner keynote on Tuesday at the Moscone Center. “You’re taking our platform, taking our innovation, and taking them to new places.”

Partners, according to Salesforce COO and vice chairman Keith Block, are a key part of the company’s strategy and go-to-market plan.

“I love attending this forum because I’m very passionate about this [partner] audience,” Block said in the partner keynote. “You are so integral to our strategy.”

According to Block, Salesforce has doubled in revenue over the last four years, and its partners are a big reason for that.

Aside from Ohana – “we want our customers and partners to feel like they’re a part of our Ohana culture” – Salesforce’s strategy includes elevating engagement with C-level executives through speaking the language of their industry.

“When you’re talking to a consumer package goods company that is different than speaking to someone in retail or telecom,” Block said. “Industry-specific products and horizontal ISVs are important.”

Salesforce also plans to expand internationally; “we want to provide an incredible level of service all over the world,” he said.

“The people who represent the partner community…you have the mind-share, the influence, the know-how to paint a vision for our collective customers,” Block says. And these customers are more focused on their end-customers than ever before.

“There is a steady drumbeat of C-level execs that we meet with regularly to talk about the age of the customer,” he says.

Salesforce’s agenda and the CEO agenda “lines up nicely”, Block says; the C-level agenda is “all about growth and shareholder value.”

“If you think about our collective message – our message is growth, our message is transformation,” Block says. “This is not Salesforce going at it alone, this is a customer arm-and-arm with Salesforce and a customer.”

Here are the updates to the Salesforce partner program, from a press release:

  • New technology benefits: Salesforce partners today have unprecedented opportunities to build amazing apps, components and more on the Salesforce platform. With updates three times a year, the platform automatically gives partners new capabilities in each release, such as Salesforce Einstein. Partners can also create amazing experiences using Salesforce Lightning—an entirely new way to build apps and components via clicks, not code—and Lightning Bolt, which allows them to launch new communities, portals or customer-facing websites that instantly integrate with Salesforce. And with the launch today of Salesforce DX, a new developer experience, partners can continuously deliver innovative apps faster than ever with features such as scratch environments, an improved integrated development environment (IDE), seamless GitHub integration and more.
  • New enablement programs: Salesforce is helping partners get to market faster with incredible new programs. With Security Review FastTrack, partners now can expedite the AppExchange security review process with special pre-screening assistance to quickly launch their apps on Salesforce AppExchange, the world's #1 business apps marketplace, while adhering to the strict standards customers expect. And to help partners future-proof their apps for the next wave of Salesforce innovation, the company is expanding the frequency and reach of its roadmap reviews with new pop-up labs with Salesforce Platform Architects at Salesforce events worldwide, and new quarterly roundtables with Gold Certified partners and above.
  • New marketing support: With the new AppExchange in Lightning Experience launched today, the AppExchange is now surfaced inside Salesforce, promoting partner apps to customers and enabling them to seamlessly search and install apps without having to leave Salesforce. And to better market partner solutions internally to Salesforce's direct sales force, the company also launched improvements to nextlevel, an internal partner finder that allows Salesforce's own reps to find partner solutions faster by filtering by tier, industry and cloud specialization.
  • New learning opportunities: Partners in record numbers are already tapping into Trailhead, a self-guided learning environment with modules on everything from culture to leadership to in-demand Salesforce skills, with more than 200,000 badges earned by partners to date. With the new Lightning Superbadge in Trailhead, partners can now highlight their expertise in building amazing Lightning apps for customers. And Salesforce today is also expanding its certification program with two new certs: System Architect and Application Architect, part of the revamped Certified Architect Framework.
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