- Salesforce is considered the leader in CRM software, but is increasingly competing from Microsoft.
- Salesforce is focusing on a few key areas in order to stay competitive, analysts said.
- The Slack acquisition, its platform, automation, and tools for specific industries are focus areas.
Salesforce is widely considered the long-time leader in customer relationship management software.
However, Microsoft has recently started seriously challenging its dominance of the space with its Dynamics 365 software.
While Salesforce holds the lion’s share of the CRM business, Microsoft’s advantage of integrating its Office suite of productivity and collaboration tools with Dynamics has started winning over customers.
As a result, Salesforce is focusing on a few key areas of its business to stay competitive with Microsoft, analysts said, including through its major
acquisition, deepening partnership with Amazon Web Services, increased focus on automation, and investment in industry-specific tools.
Slack-ifying Salesforce’s products
Now that Salesforce has closed its $27.7 billion deal to buy Slack, it’s focused on integrating it into all of its CRM tools. Salesforce intends to turn Slack into the user interface for its platform, similar to how Microsoft integrates its fast-growing chat app, Teams, with the Office suite, Dynamics 365, and other Microsoft tools.
Microsoft is positioning itself as a full-service suite where sales people get their work done, according to RBC analyst Rishi Jaluria. “I imagine Salesforce is going to invest more heavily in kind of going after that same vision,” he said.
In addition to integrations, Salesforce is likely to invest in making Slack more like Teams, including through adding more robust video capabilities, Jaluria said.
The Slack acquisition positions Salesforce “incredibly well, in a very competitive space,” according to Futurum Research analyst Dan Newman.
Investing in the platform through partnerships
Salesforce is also focused on beefing up its developer platform, including its vast ecosystem of third-party applications that integrate with its CRM tools.
It recently expanded its partnership with Amazon Web Services to make it easier for the two to share data between their platforms and integrate certain AWS features into Salesforce products, which helps developers build custom apps on top of both platforms.
That’s similar to how Microsoft’s Power Platform and Azure can be used together, Newman said.
“Microsoft and Salesforce are mirroring a lot of areas that are growth drivers,” Newman said. “They both understand that having strength around developers, low-code, easy extendability of solutions, scale for data on cloud” is important.
Focusing on adding automation technology
In addition to the platform, Salesforce is also investing in AI and adding more automation capabilities. Earlier this month, it bought a small robotic process automation startup called Servicetrace. The startup will become part of its MuleSoft subsidiary, which helps build integrations between various software tools. It didn’t disclose the amount of the deal.
While Salesforce does have automation tools already, its offering is fairly disjointed and involves many different pieces, said Gartner analyst Jason Wong. That becomes a challenge when it goes head-to-head with newer CRM vendors that have more simple automation tools, he said.
Servicetrace has more advanced technologies, he added, and will help Salesforce automate more complex tasks.
Building industry specific tools
Finally, Salesforce is focused on catering to specific industries like healthcare and financial services. That’s been a focus for several years. Since it acquired Vlocity for $1 billion in February 2020, it’s added new industry specific tools to its core sales, service, marketing, and commerce products.
Salesforce’s chief product officer David Schmaier, who was previously Vlocity’s CEO, previously told Insider that the industries focus is a “major competitive differentiator” for Salesforce.
Many companies built on Salesforce’s platform build industry specific add-ons and analysts expect the firm to keep investing in building its own industry tools to meet increased demand.
“I think there is going to be more increased vertical organization,” said RBC’s Jaluria. “And Salesforce saying, ‘Hey, why don’t we enjoy some more of the economics ourselves? Versus having these massive companies out there that kind of take the lion’s share of the opportunity.”
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