Salesforce facing massed enemies

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After years of successfully taking on the big boys, Salesforce is finding itself being punched back by the likes of Oracle, SAP and Microsoft.

Salesforce is suddenly finding that the enemies it poked fun at for the last few years are starting to fight back and win.

Oracle, SAP and Microsoft are managing to counter Salesforce by buying companies that offer business-management tools over the internet.

It is an area which made Salesforce and its Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff very rich and suddenly he is having to change his plans.

Bloomberg  reports Benioff is having to push into software-development and social-media marketing.

In the past Benioff bet that wider use of the internet would help enterprises stop buying servers and software and installing them in-house. This was the prototype of the cloud idea, which really took off.

Unfortunately now everyone wants a slice of the pie and Salesforce is having to come up with something new.

While the company has more or less written the rulebook on online software-as-a-service service, the landscape has changed from the days when Oracle CEO Larry Ellison was Saleforce’s chum and investor.

Oracle, based in Redwood City, California, has invested $1 billion from cloud computing, as well as online human resources and customer support companies it acquired in the past year.

Oracle co-President Mark Hurd was recently quoted as saying Oracle was the second biggest software-as-a-service provider today and to it just got started.

Salesforce is hitting back by expanding into human resources and tools for marketing on Facebook and Twitter.

Last month the company showed off its human resources offering and next up is Work.com, which will let managers set organisational goals and organise employees.

Salesforce wants to hit $10 billion in sales and analysts expect it to happen around 2020. It seems to be doing that by concentrating on enterprises, when it actually got its start selling to SMEs.

Where Salesforce appears stealing the march on its rivals is in the field of social networking. It sees a growing corporate demand for marketers to create campaigns and mine product feedback from Facebook and Twitter users’.

Salesforce’s $745 million deal for social marketing company Buddy Media on June 4 was showing exactly where the company was going.  But it did not have long before its rivals worked out what was going on.

Oracle worked out the plan and bought Involver, Vitrue and Collective Intellect. Google agreed and bought Wildfire Interactive to let ad clients design social media marketing campaigns.

What this means for Salesforce is that it is in a strange place. Its enemies have encircled it and any move it does is being duplicated in case its rivals miss out. This being the case it is going to be very difficult for the company to steal a March on anyone.


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