Posted by: Clay Nelson, Relationship Unlimited Founder
How can you make Salesforce even better? Community, that’s how and it is something that is deep within the DNA of Salesforce.
After a trip to the Hawaii in the late 90’s Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff was deeply affected and influenced by the Hawaiian concept of “Ohana”. In Hawaiian culture, Ohana represents the idea that families (whether blood-related, adopted or otherwise) are bound together, and that family are responsible for each other.
When Benioff created Salesforce in 1999, he knew he wanted to embed that concept of Ohana into the company’s foundations.
Right from the very beginning Benioff and Salesforce recognised the power of building a community around the platform and products they were creating, so that trusted partners could extend and connect Salesforce to other tools and solutions to create greater value for all users.
Today, the Salesforce spirit of “Ohana” extends from its employees, right through to its partners and customers in the spirit of community and collaboration.
In a recent post I touched on how Salesforce is so much more than “just a CRM”, it’s actually a powerful platform that that allows for a range of amazing apps to run off it, all with easy integration & configuration. This is one of the key reasons Salesforce has been the world’s leading CRM for so many years, simply because of the wide range of “add-on” customer solutions that can be enabled on the Salesforce platform.
Nothing illustrates this notion of community and Ohana better than the Salesforce AppExchange – this is where you see that community come to life.
The Salesforce AppExchange
The Salesforce AppExchange was launched in 2005 as an online application marketplace for business apps.
No doubt you’re familiar with Apple’s “App Store” and probably have a number of apps on your phone that you’ve downloaded from there. Well, AppExchange is no different really except, rather than having a consumer focus, it is the world’s #1 business app marketplace.
Interestingly, while “App Store” is now synonymous with Apple and its online marketplace for the software we run on our iPhones, “app store” is actually a phrase first coined and trademarked by Salesforce and subsequently gifted to Apple’s Steve Jobs by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.
Salesforce was the first to conceive of a model built on partnership in the cloud, and now it boasts the largest partner ecosystem of any tech company in the world.
From productivity, ERP, to marketing, collaboration HR and more using the AppExchange you can connect your Salesforce platform with supplementary tools you need to run your business better and smarter.
Salesforce AppExchange in numbers (2019)
- 7.5 million installs
- 4,000+ solutions
- 90,000 reviews
- 87% of all Salesforce customers use at least one AppExchange app (rises to 95% of Fortune 100 customers).
The 3 key advantages of AppExchange apps
The AppExchange has thousands of apps and components for every business need, ready to be configured quickly and easily with the ability for testing and production to be performed separately as required.
2. Trust & reliability
Every app submits to a rigorous vetting and testing procedure to get listed on the AppExchange marketplace.
3. No maintenance costs
No added technical debt or maintenance costs because AppExchange apps are upgraded, and maintained by the developers of the app.
The AppExchange is not just apps
The AppExchange isn’t just a huge library of ready-to-install apps, it’s actually an ecosystem of over 5,000 solutions that will help you extend and get the best out of your Salesforce platform. Many of these are prebuilt solutions that enable you to work at speed when creating bespoke solutions for your unique business challenges. For many aspects you don’t need to start from scratch, but you can leverage and adapt components and flows that have already been proven to work on the platform.
The Salesforce Lightning Platform
The power of AppExchange and the Salesforce ecosystem is that it truly allows for all businesses to start small and scale from the ground up on the world’s leading SaaS platform. From installing ready-to-go apps, to actually building your own apps on the platform.
The Salesforce Lightning Platform is the app development platform that makes building apps faster and easier, with low code tools and the code interface, the platform integrates easily with other technologies. Governance controls and security are all built-in with ALM, sandboxes, change sets, scratch orgs, sharing rules, and more.
Again, the ethos behind the Lightning Platform is community, because that empowers “app creators” from every part of the business to partner with IT to turn their ideas into working apps that will transform the way the business operates.
What can you build on the Lightning Platform?
You can pretty much build any app you need to transform your business, in fact entire companies have been built on top of the Salesforce platform. Businesses like Eli Lilly, Toyota Financial Services, and Seagate are building on the Lightning Platform to create personalised patient journeys, reduce spreadsheets and drive productivity.
Let’s a have a closer look at the different AppExchange solutions available.
AppExchange is the world’s #1 business app marketplace with thousands of ready-to-install third party solutions built by partners (as well as Salesforce employees) so you can extend your Salesforce platform functionality and productivity.
The Lightning Component framework is a UI framework and collection of reusable building blocks for developing web apps for mobile and desktop devices. It’s a modern framework for building single-page applications with dynamic, responsive user interfaces for Lightning Platform apps.
Salesforce Lightning Bolts are industry specific solution templates built by an ecosystem of partners, helping you get to market faster. Lightning Bolts contain industry process flows, Apps, and Lightning Components, all integrated seamlessly with the Customer 360.
Salesforce have built a powerful, flexible set of capabilities into the Salesforce platform called the Lightning Data Engine. It uses sophisticated matching algorithms and machine learning to make it easy to implement and deliver strategic data and insights from trusted, third-party sources. Lightning Data gives customers access to a community of data providers, enabling them to create more intelligent processes built on better, more targeted data, which improves CRM user adoption and ROI.
*Note, you may be interested in my recent post about the critical importance of good quality data in CRM project success and how bad data = bad decisions. Relationship Unlimited have partnered up with local data experts Intech Solutions to help address this data quality issue.
Salesforce Lightning Flow Solutions make it possible to build seamless experiences for your customers and employees with as little code as possible. By applying drag-and-drop functionality to customer engagement, you can automate complex business process logic – even if you need to interact with external systems, for example conducting a credit check.
However, because every business and organisation is different with different processes, often the Salesforce platform has to be customised, or integrated to meet unique customer needs and requirements.
This is why, in addition to the many apps and solutions you’ll find on AppExchange, you have access to over 1,000 certified consultants.
Salesforce certified consulting partners are approved and authorised by Salesforce to offer development and integration solutions. Often, consultants (like Relationship Unlimited!) can offer a range of deep technical and business expertise such as; requirements assessment, options analysis, solution design, configuration and coding, project management, solution deployment & user coaching/ training.
5,000 + apps and solutions is a little overwhelming…
While the AppExchange is an incredible resource, the sheer volume of what is available can be totally overwhelming and lead to “analysis paralysis”. What you need is someone who has done all the due diligence for you, researched and tested the leading solutions that will likely cover most of your project needs.
This is where Platinum Partner come in. Platinum Partner have hand selected the market leading solutions that will cover 95% of your project requirements and packaged them up in an offering for Salesforce Certified Partners to offer to their clients to create a winning combination based around simplicity, price and support.
This means that Relationship Unlimited can now offer exclusive license pricing and a “one stop shop” when it comes to billing and support for a suite of the most popular Salesforce 3rd party solutions.
You can read more about Relationship Unlimited’s partnership with Platinum Partner here.
Bringing it all Together
What brings this all together of course is again community, and a great relationship with a trusted Salesforce Registered Consulting Partner. In the beginning all this opportunity is understandably overwhelming, this is where Relationship Unlimited can be your trusted guide to getting the very best out of your Salesforce investment. Get in touch with us today if you have questions around how your business can better leverage or be part of the wider Salesforce community.