CEBP: Where are the Business Process Vendors?
Salesforce and other application vendors and social software providers need to provide users with the ability to use real-time voice and video.
At Dreamforce 2012 last week, Salesforce.com's huge gathering of customers, partners, influencers and others, I experienced both good news and bad news. The good news: I expected to hear a lot about social software and was not disappointed. The bad news: I expected to hear about Salesforce's activity in communication-enabled business processes (CEBP) but, in that regard, I was extremely disappointed.
Salesforce.com is not a UC vendor; it does not have any voice or telephony capabilities, but it has many UC vendor partners that integrate their solutions with the Salesforce.com application, I expected to at least hear the term "unified communications" mentioned at the conference, but that didn't happen. During the analyst reception, someone from Salesforce told me that there is a lot of activity going on around UC and that I could expect to hear some announcements in the coming year, but that was the only information he could share at this time.
The value of integrating UC with CRM, ERP and other business process applications is clear from various user cases studies and examples. As Marty Parker noted in an article about UC ROI, between 10% and 20% of employees in most enterprises get their job done via a business application, including CRM applications such as Salesforce. Marty goes on to say that "the transactions and processes served by those employees can operate more efficiently if the communications functions are embedded into the software application rather than being served by separate e-mail, calling, or conferencing systems."
Cisco, Avaya, Siemens, Alcatel-Lucent, Mitel, Zultys, Esnatech and most other UC vendors enable users to click-to-connect from within the Salesforce application. This saves workers time, while helping to solve customer issues faster.
So I was surprised by the absence of discussion or even mention of Salesforce.com's UC partners or the role its applications can play in a UC solution. The only UC vendors I noticed in the exhibit hall were Interactive Intelligence, ShoreTel and Blue Jeans (video collaboration). Was the absence of UC due to the fact that Salesforce already has partnerships with the key UC vendors and doesn't see much more opportunity in the market? Or was it because Dreamforce is almost 100% focused on social, and Salesforce doesn't see the need for UC in a social world?
Regardless, I believe that Salesforce is missing a huge opportunity, as are other application vendors and social software vendors that are overlooking the importance of integrating UC with their offerings. Textual interactions are great for some situations, but sometimes it's more effective to be able to connect via voice and/or video. Enabling users to click-to-connect with the appropriate people from within the Salesforce application and desktop computer, tablet or mobile device helps workers be more productive--this means closing more sales and solving more customers' problems faster. By integrating UC with Salesforce Chatter, colleagues can interact not just by text, but by the communication channel that is most appropriate.
So here's my call to action: Salesforce and other application vendors and social software providers need to recognize the limitations of textual communication, and provide users with the ability to use real-time voice and video to increase revenues, reduce costs and improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.