Monday, November 29, 1999

`Enterprise software is still stuck back in 1999`

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It's time to breathe new life into enterprises' applications. Jeremy Cooper, who is the vice-president (marketing) for the Asia Pacific region at enterprise cloud computing company Salesforce, says employees who 'Chatter' could in fact help the business grow. Chatter is the company's collaboration application for the enterprise to connect and share information securely with people at work in real-time. Salesforce, which pioneered cloud computing worldwide more than a decade ago, believes it can successfully transpose some of the characteristics that have made social networking sites such as Facebook so popular onto applications for the office. In an interview with FE's Chanpreet Khurana, Cooper talks about the new application and why Salesforce is so bullish on India. Excerpts:What was the inspiration behind Chatter?There are a couple of very interesting things happening on the consumer Web, which is where we have sort of taken a lot of our borrowings over the years. We saw at the end of last year that social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Orkut for the first time surpassed email in terms of usage. So, communication channels are changing and there are some broad changes taking place in internet usage. People are reconsidering the way they want to consume information. And their devices are changing, so that's also opening new avenues for collaboration.The reality is that enterprise software is still stuck back in 1999. We look at social networking, smart devices like iPhones and iPads and BlackBerrys, and the question we are now asking ourselves is that we have had a decade of delivering applications that look, feel and operate like, which had some great features, so why isn't there now a product software like Facebook? What is happening on a site like Facebook is that 450 million people are collaborating on it every day.A lot of what we are trying to do with Chatter is take all the richness and all the familiarity of consumer sites like Facebook and bring that into the enterprise.What stage of the launch is Chatter at currently?We have a beta program that was announced in November which is now open to 500 customers. Later this year, we are going to turn Chatter on for every single one of our 72,500 customers worldwide. We are going to turn that on and it's going to be free. We have 2.5 million users using Salesforce every day.If we think about this in that context, it's an almost atomic event.Are you hoping to make money from the application?It is going to be free for all our 2.5 million customer relationship management (CRM) users. It is going to be a standard part of our CRM product. And then we will be announcing pricing later in the year for all of our non-CRM users.Where does India feature in Salesforce's global strategy?We recently reported that customer growth in India year-on-year was about 46%. As a company, Salesforce had terrific growth globally last year. Revenue grew 23% and our customer base globally grew 31%. Our fastest growing theatre in terms of customer growth was the Asia-Pacific, with 36% growth. Our fastest growing market anywhere in the world was India.We are very excited about the Indian marketplace. We have made a couple of big developments here over the last 12 months, from opening our headquarters in Gurgaon as well as office presences in Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad to recruiting heavily—-both employees and partners. Our customer growth in India is explosive.In terms of whether we will locally develop products, we are already seeing that with partners like Orbit Technologies developing applications on our platform and posting it up on the AppExchange.What portion of growth did the Indian market contribute to Salesforce's growth last year in revenue?I can't breakdown revenue by country. Globally, Salesforce did $1.4 billion in revenue for the financial year ended January, and Asia-Pacific and Japan accounted for approximately 11% of that.Indian IT services companies are essentially in the business of reducing cost of operations. Do you see some hostility from that quarter, as cornering a share of their business opportunity?We have terrific partnerships with companies like HCL and Wipro and Tata Consultancy Services. Wipro was our first reseller globally. They saw a great opportunity to get extensibility in terms of their portfolio.One of the things we look at from the Indian market perspective is the amount of intellectual capital that is captured inside of the market. The cloud offers a very unique opportunity to unlock the potential of that.When you think of why there are so few globally recognised software brands, a lot of it has to do with how the channels to market were too complex, or the technology required to develop it was too expensive.What we are starting to see with cloud and specifically online market places like AppExchange is that Indian developers are starting to build applications. These are being made available on online market places, and are securing global customers. We think the cloud could be a huge driver for that sector over the next several years.

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