One of the strong ways Salesforce differentiates itself against other CRM players is in the fact that its various solutions form a suite of customer lifecycle products and are deeply integrated out of the box. This is a compelling proposition but falls down somewhat when potential customers are faced with a confusing series of licensing and integration options and need to create their own solution set – if Salesforce differentiates itself from best of breed by offering a holistic suite – this suite needs to be able to be bought all in one go. With the announcement of the new Salesforce Performance Edition, the company is providing customers an answer to this issue – they are combining the following products all into one solution: Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Platform, Data.com, Work.com, Identity, LiveAgent, Knowledge and a testing sandbox.
I’m in full agreement with Michael Fauscette of IDC who said of the announcement:
Successful companies approach their sales and service strategy holistically. With Performance Edition, salesforce.com is making it easier for companies to grow pipeline, shorten sales cycles and improve sales performance while delivering a consistent customer service experience across every channel—all in a single solution
Best of Breed versus Suites
There is a significant disagreement between proponents of the Best of Breed methodology for enterprise software versus a suite-based approach. Proponents of the former point to the unprecedented variety of solutions that are available in the marketplace and suggest that this amazing breadth of what is available, coupled with the rise of APIs and integration services means that crafting a tightly integrated series of point solutions that all deliver very specific functional requirements to the business is easier than every before.
taking the opposing view, there are those who point out that tying together disparate solutions often built with different data structures and technology architectures can be a logistical nightmare and it is only through the use of an end to end platform, where disparate solutions use the same data formats and architectural paradigms, that users can achieve the best outcomes for the least amount of pain.
Both of these perspectives have merit – if a particular organization can meet all its functional needs from a suite-based solution then, all things being equal, it is better to go down this route. however for an organization that has very specific functional requirements and needs the functionality a specific standalone solution can bring, then a best of breed strategy is optimal.
There is one big proviso to this perspective however, and that is that the suite solution needs to be a true suite – from a technical perspective it needs to be build on one platform using one type of data format and from a business perspective it needs to be able to be purchased all as a bundle with integrated identity and simple licensing. This is where the salesforce Performance Edition comes in – for the simple pricing model of $300 per user per month, customers get a full suite of product, integrated at source and with no limitations.
There is no hard and fast rules in the best of breed vs suite conversation, but this announcement makes the decision between the two approaches more readily compared for an individual organizations particular situation.