Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Art of Positioning - Part III Evolution

So, is on its way to $1b in revenue and had a very well attended DreamForce conference a few months ago in San Francisco. So, is everything perfect in “No Software” land? Well, there are plenty of pundits that you can consult… My purpose here is strictly to examine how the positioning has evolved from the early days and attempt to imagine a probable future. Astutely, Marc Benioff chose the CRM moniker for the company when they went public. An interesting step as CRM is a much broader application footprint than SFA. Then, “Software is dead” became on-demand CRM and / or software as a service SaaS. Then the Apex programming language was introduced, then the AppExchange application sharing service, then the operating system of the on-demand and service-oriented architecture worlds and a mash-up composite web applications custom platform… I’m sure you get the idea. And the home page, as of Nov. 27 2007, displays the following:

2. No software button
3. 100 new CRM features
4. Platform as a service
5. Success on demand
6. Success force (for customization and integration)
8. Appexchange

The breadth of these categories is starting to dilute the perception of what SalesForce is in the mind of prospects and customers alike. There lies a complex positioning problem. Indeed, as grows, its positioning evolves, and I’d say that at this point in time the “messaging portfolio” does not support the overarching positioning of Simplicity and Ease-of-Everything… This is natural as early objectives have been achieved (validity of on-demand apps) and new ones need to be reached (from mid-market to enterprise and need for configuration).

And while positioning purity is not an objective in and of itself, it is always preferable to have a positioning that supports the values of the brand. Software is definitely more alive than ever but (as a name) is aging. Long live!

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