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Salesforce.com made a surprising announcement of its agreement to acquire Rypple, a software company that defines its product as a social goals application. I call this a surprise because although Salesforce has been extending its reach beyond sales and customer service to IT in providing a platform, tools and a database for building applications and storing data in the cloud, until now it has not entered directly into other lines of business. After its annual Dreamforce conference last summer, I analyzed the company’s strategy and products. Now I want to consider what this acquisition means for Salesforce and the human capital management market.

Rypple provides a new type of application that operates within the confines of cloud computing that enables managers and team members to collaborate in accomplishing specific objectives in an interactive manner. Perhaps Rypple’s largest challenge has been waiting for potential customers to catch up to this innovation and be willing to try a new approach to coaching team members. Unlike traditional HR and talent management applications, Rypple addresses goals and objectives, coaching and feedback, and performance reviews in a social environment.

I decided to check out the application for myself and ensure my analysis is as accurate as possible, which I think its uniqueness makes necessary to understand what Salesforce.com has acquired. Rypple focuses on three key activities: coaching toward defined objectives, recognition of work accomplished and feedback on the performance of the individual who has done it. The application runs in the cloud, which no doubt pleases Salesforce. It took me just minutes to set up in its cloud computing environment with the application and engage members of my team with it, even accessing it with its native application on the Apple iPhone. Rypple provides a comfortable user experience and intuitive methods for people to work toward common goals and socialize the focus.

Rypple has been active in getting testimonials from its customers, which include Facebook, Spotify, Rackspace, Kobo, Jive Software and other newer companies mostly in the Internet technology sector. Rypple had a simple pricing plan that offers some basics for free and charges $5 to $9 per month for more functionality for goals and reviews, coaching and feedback along with enterprise-level integration and support. Rypple also provides integration with Google, iPhone, Jive and Pivotal Tracker, which demonstrates its ease of access from other environments.

Now the question is what Salesforce.com plans to do with Rypple. It will create a new business unit and rename the produce Successforce and is likely to integrate this with Chatter as part of an effort to make that an enterprise backbone for social collaboration. This layering of applications complements Salesforce’s strategy for Chatter as it has done with its Service Cloud. In the short term I doubt that Salesforce will jump into the larger market for talent management and try to sell Rypple to human resources departments; this requires focused investments into this line of business, which it has not been doing as much as it has with IT. So the impact of the acquisition on the human capital management software market is  not clear. Salesforce  will also need to address the future of its partnership with Jobscience which applies aspects of CRM to administer and support HR and human capital management and has been providing them some significant proof points of its efforts.

Salesforce’s customers in sales and customer service should be eager to examine this application as should those looking to build upon its use of Force.com in the enterprise. Rypple also could help Salesforce gain an edge on Oracle’s Fusion for HCM that I assessed and its recently announced Oracle Social Network that lacks the vision and demonstration as this announcement. This move puts Salesforce.com more in line with the direction of what Saba and SuccessFactors (which is being acquired by SAP) are doing to advance social collaboration into human capital management. At the moment it is not clear if Salesforce will continue to support the existing stand-alone offering and pricing of Rypple, let alone the free version, so users should be cautious until the deal is final and Salesforce communicates the new direction. In any case this is an interesting move as Salesforce continues to surprise the market with its progressive applications of social collaboration for enterprise lines of business.

Regards,

Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer

 

Sales proposals can determine whether a deal is booked or lost. In most organizations the process of creating and delivering a proposal is manual and one-off, with many potential places for mistakes. This lack of rigor and efficiency impairs many organizations’ ability to leverage their resources. Proposal Software helps sales organizations with an application called PMAPS that addresses sales management and operations. 

PMAPS enables you to search and generate proposals and also to manage the overall process, from days to respond and time taken along with all the details related to communication and follow-up. Sales operations staff will find this Microsoft Windows-based application easy to use for reporting on the state of proposals. But as technologies change and with today’s focus on the Web and mobile applications, Proposal Software is migrating to a new platform for its applications, leaving the Windows application in a final stage of development. 

The Web version of PMAPS adds flexibility in the management and creation of proposals. The software’s SalesDocBuilder and a wizard help managers and front-line sales professionals  use templates to assemble pitch books of presentations and documents for sales prospects. Users can also create pitch books through a mobile Web version. This helps address the problem of information scattered through an organization; our sales benchmark research found this problem to be the top impediment to sales performance in 51 percent of organizations. If your organization has to respond consistently to requests for information, proposals or quotes (RFI, RFP or RFQ), the PMAPS Assembly Center helps gather the right information for a thorough and professional response. No programming is required; everything is done through a user-driven application. 

I like the way this small application that floats on the desktop lets you access sales information or jump into starting a pitch book or proposal. The software uses a role-based approach for proposal writers, sales, preview or review staff and administrators. Just as important is that the application is accessible via smartphone and tablets through PMAPS WebPro Mobile, which makes it easy to get to information and create documents for proposals while on the go. If you believe in building a sales knowledge base to improve the potential of your sales organization, the company’s Q&A Database can help significantly, and reduce the load on sales and presales operations. The latest release PMAPS WebPro 7.0 also facilitates making assignments and shredding outdated documents so they are not used again. 

If you are not sure why you should tackle having a dedicated application for sales proposals, look at the detailed functionality provided. While many providers of sales force automation (SFA) have the ability to securely store and access content, they do not give you the ability to generate proposals. I noted in my analysis of Salesforce.com’s latest advancements to help sales that this is a gap in its product offerings. Proposal Software has used the Salesforce API to integrate with the company’s SFA, and it has done the same for other partners, too. 

Proposal Software makes its application available for rent as secure software as a service (SaaS), operating 24-by-7 and eliminating the need to worry about internal resources to manage the applications and content. The company still offers an on-premises version also. 

In this challenging economic environment every sales organization needs to be timely and thorough in response to sales opportunities. If your sales organization still manually copies and pastes content and selects stand-alone files to send to sales prospects, you risk falling behind. Proposal Software’s PMAPS WebPro is a robust package of all the functionality for managing proposals, pitches and the process of providing high-quality information to your prospects to close deals. Our benchmark research into sales analytics found that the average time to close is a key sales metrics, and Proposal Software can help address it. Building pitches and proposals in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint or Adobe Acrobat should not be difficult, and it is simple with Proposal Software. If you are in sales at any level and have not checked out Proposal’s offering, take a look at PMAPS as part of the way to fulfill the promise of sales force automation. 

Regards,

Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer

Mark Smith – Twitter

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