General Information

Salesforce (SFDC) is a customer relationship management platform (CRM). The platform is cloud-based and is the world’s number one CRM platform. Currently more than 150,000 companies use SFDC as their CRM platform. SFDC was founded in 1999 by Marc Benioff and Parker Harris.

Product Innovation

The key different to SFDC and it’s competitors is that SFDC was early to introduce a cloud-base platform. By having a cloud-base product, SFDC was able to become the leading CRM provider. One quote that represents how SFDC is growing is a quote by Henry Ford, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” SFDC has acquired over 50 companies since its founding. This shows how SFDC invest in their product to be able to continue to grow and make it better.

Innovation Process

To be able to focus on a process for innovation, one question that should be asked is “What are we learning and what are we looking to learn?” This comes from being able to learn from customer experience and their feedback. By focusing on the customer satisfaction, SFDC will be able to see which areas of the platform needs improvement and can grow from that. The core values behind SFDC is trust, customer success, innovation, and equality. SFDC also invented the 1/1/1 Model which allows for the values to be put into action. The model dedicates 1% of Salesforce’s equity, 1% of Salesforce’s product and 1% of Salesforce employees’ time back to communities throughout the world.

SFDC is working a lot with storytelling when working with innovative ideas. By creating a story it will be easier to see the whole picture and detect the root of a problem. The storytelling approach also helps people to feel more comfortable to share their ideas and perspectives. Another approach SFDC is using is DISCOVER, DARE, DESIGN, DELIVER, in this approach it is important that you don’t skip any step as you might lose the track of the core problem. For internal innovative ideas SFDC has created their own venture capitalist fond which founding projects. However the fond is also used for external projects in order for SFDC to partner with external PE firms to stay accurate of what happens in the industry.

Innovation Metrics

While a metric such as revenue is always key to seeing how the business is doing, one of the greater metrics is customer satisfaction. By measuring customer satisfaction, it helps with being able to gain feedback on their experience and learn how to make their experience better. One example is the use of Salesforce Lighting, wanted a better usage and usability experience for the customers. Glenn also mentioned that during an innovative project is it important to measure the learning outcome as many innovative projects might not lead to a market realized product directly, but a lot of learning outcomes for future projects is usually a big takeaway. 

Advantage of Cluster

One of the themes within the Silicon Valley is co-opetition which is a mix of competition and collaboration. SFDC has both which allows for an open innovation framework. Another cluster advantage that comes with being in Silicon Valley is the ability of networking and building relationships. This comes in handy with universities since Stanford and UC Berkeley are in the area. With the culture of the Valley, people are more willing to share ideas and collaborate together. 

Fun Fact

Forbes has voted SFDC as “World’s Most Innovative Company” from 2011-2014.

Memorable Quote

“Design’s just about solving problems for people” Glenn Rawlinson, Director Innovation Strategy and Design