Salesforce has expanded its reach into specific vertical industries as part of an effort to enable organizations to accelerate their digital business transformation initiatives.
Digital 360 for Industries combines various existing software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications from Salesforce with extensions that address specific requirements in a variety of industries, including the consumer goods, financial services, healthcare, and media industries, The platform also offers applications for governments, non-profit entities, and emergency response teams.
The goal is to make it easier for organizations looking to digital processes to employ a combination of software, tools, e-commerce applications, and best practices defined by Salesforce as an alternative to building these types of extensions themselves, says Anna Rosenman, senior vice president of product marketing for Salesforce Commerce and Experience Clouds. “We want to make it easier to deliver more elegant digital experiences,” she says.
Right Time, Right Place
The launch of Salesforce applications for specific vertical industries come at a time when many organizations are in the midst of rolling out a series of custom applications intended to drive various digital business transformation initiatives that were launched to address the COVID-19 crisis. In some cases, those initiatives were relatively simple to launch, such as enabling a retail outlet to allow customers to pick up order curbside. In other cases, organizations are still working through all of the nuances of a specific transformation initiative.
Not all those digital business transformation initiatives are likely to succeed. A recent survey of 200 IT decision makers, 200 security decision makers, and 200 business executives in organizations with at least 500 employees published by Digital.ai, a provider of value stream management (VSM) software for tracking application development progress, finds that while 95% of respondents believe their digital transformation initiatives are going well just under half (49%) said they have yet to see the results they expected. More than half of respondents (56%) also noted they are concerned about the return on investment (ROI) of those initiatives.
The delicate digital business transformation issue that organizations are trying to balance is to what degree does it make sense to build a custom application versus waiting on a vendor such as Salesforce to potentially address a specific requirement. In the early days of the pandemic there was no option. Organizations needed applications that could quickly be rolled out using low-code tools that were used to extend an existing SaaS application in the cloud whenever possible. Many of those applications are now already deployed.
Custom vs. SaaS
The issue that inevitably arises now is to what degree does it make sense to either abandon a project that has not yet been successfully deployed in favor of a similar application that may be accessible as a SaaS application. In some cases, organizations may decide to even replace the application they built with one that perhaps provides a better user experience than the one they developed. After all, digital business process transformation is always continuous by confusion. There’s really no such thing as being done. Rivals will always be trying to outdo one another.
It is difficult to know whether a vendor might one day deliver an application that potentially obviates the need for a custom application that an internal IT team has to build, secure, and maintain. However, unless that custom application addresses a need that is never likely to be addressed by a provider of a SaaS application the best advice for any organization may very well be to not become too attached to any custom application they decide to build.