(Posted by Kathi Vosevich)
When Salesforce.com acquired Sendia on April 11, it created a small spate of speculation about what this might portend. “Reckless enthusiasm” or “huge confidence” in a mobile strategy? Good question!
To put this question in better context, let’s dive a little deeper. Although most news releases and blogs noted that all 79 of Sendia’s customers are also Salesforce customers, few mentioned that Salesforce has 20,500 customers and counting or that Sendia has zero customers in common with its other partners (Oracle and its acquisition, Siebel). So is there a demand for on-demand mobile-enabled business applications? What was Salesforce thinking?
I like to think that, to mesh a couple of quotations together, Salesforce has “huge enthusiasm” about mobility. Moreover, I suggest that they are right to be enthused. They recognize the power of mobility.
Just put this acquisition in terms of the Law of Mobility. If the value of any product or service increases exponentially with mobility, as the Law asserts, then Salesforce may have effectively ensured some impressive future growth. After all, as President Bush has said, he has found that “expectations rise above that which is expected.” (A more profound statement than he may have gotten credit for.) And impressive, consistent growth in revenue, customers, and customer satisfaction scores is a hard act to follow – unless the Law of Mobility takes over.
Salesforce is not #79 on the list of the top 100 most innovative businesses by accident. With AppExchange Mobile, a product introduced in the acquisition announcements, applications can be delivered to mobile devices without developers having to write different code for different platforms. This is huge. Now Salesforce can hype a “write once, run anywhere” message. Up to this point, it is arguable that mobile applications have over-promised and under-delivered. But as Kendall Collins, VP of product marketing at Salesforce points out in an article by Hannah Smalltree, “People have been able to e-mail … but until now, they haven’t been able to run business applications.” This may be the key differentiator.
So does Salesforce know something competitors don’t? Are they ahead of the marketplace or is the time ripe? Maybe “the readiness is all” (to quote a great source), and they are signaling both their readiness and that of the market. In fact, they are helping to create and enable mobile business.
One thing is clear: Salesforce has thrown down the mobile gauntlet and we’ll just have to wait and see if anyone picks it up. After all (with apologies to Robert Browning), a company’s reach should exceed its grasp or what’s a Fortune 500 for?