The simpler days when customer relationship management (CRM) meant little more than better sales forecasting and customer acquisition, with a modicum of retention thrown in, are over. In today's highly volatile and intensely competitive environment, this legacy CRM approach has, thankfully, been superseded by the emergence of more sophisticated customer engagement platforms (CEPs) as an essential mechanism for customer-focused business transformation.
The stakes have never been higher. To meet this transformational challenge Salesforce has developed more industry depth and breadth to its Customer 360 Platform, announcing on September 16, 2019, two additional industry clouds: Consumer Goods Cloud and Manufacturing Cloud.
In the early days, Salesforce was happy to rely heavily on its very successful AppExchange marketplace to deliver vertical variations and extensions. Over the last four years, while Salesforce has been steadily evolving its CRM applications portfolio into a broader CEP with the notable additions of commerce (Demandware acquired in 2016) and the rollout of AI (Einstein) and integration capabilities (MuleSoft acquired in 2018), it has also gone deeper into specific industry verticals. Its latest additions: Salesforce Consumer Goods Cloud and Salesforce Manufacturing Cloud now join the list of industry clouds: Financial Services Cloud, Health Cloud, Government Cloud, Education Cloud, Nonprofit Cloud, and Philanthropy.
This mix of customer engagement breadth allied to industry depth is a clear signal that Salesforce aims to lead the digital business transformation revolution that has taken hold across every sector.
What is becoming increasingly clear, is that a key characteristic of successful transformation is the removal of operational silos and barriers to a fluid customer experience. That is central to Salesforce's latest industry clouds.
The trend in both manufacturing and consumer goods is to take a more demand-driven approach to supply. Manufacturing Cloud feeds into enterprise resource planning applications to provide demand signals and to help operations, finance, and sales to collaborate based on real-time data and Einstein recommendations. In Consumer Goods environments, enhancing the ability of sales to take orders on site, replenish low stock items, and optimize displays supported by Einstein Vision, helps the retailer as much as the supplier. As Salesforce digs deeper into the operational needs of selected industries, its platform becomes the customer-driven flywheel to accelerate digital transformation across the enterprise.
Salesforce's acquisition of MuleSoft for $6.5bn looks more like a steal every day.
Advances in Customer Engagement Platforms 2019–20, INT001-000158 (September 2019)
Jeremy Cox, Customer Engagement Practice, Ovum