Category Archives: SaaS
Salesforce.com is one of the most widely used cloud applications across every industry. Initially, Salesforce gained dominance from mid-market customers due to the agility and ease of deployment that the SaaS approach delivered. A cloud-based CRM system enabled SMB companies to easily automate sales processes that recorded customer interactions during the sales cycle and scale without costly infrastructure to maintain. This resulted in faster growth, thereby showing rapid ROI of a Salesforce deployment in most cases.
The Eye of the Enterprise
When larger enterprises saw the rapid growth that mid-market players had achieved, they realized that Salesforce was a unique technology enabler capable of helping their businesses to also speed time to market and scale more effectively. In most enterpises, the Salesforce deployments were driven by line-of-business units such as Sales and Customer Service, with varying degrees of coordination with central IT groups – in fact, most initial deployments of Salesforce orgs were done fairly autonomously from central IT.
With Great Growth Comes Greater Integration Challenges
When these business units needed to engage with each other to run cross functional tasks, the lack of a single customer view across the siloed Salesforce instances became a problem. Each individual Salesforce org had its own version of the truth and it was impossible to locate where in the sales cycle each customer was in respect to each business unit. As a consequence, cross-selling and upselling became very difficult. In short, the very application that was a key technology enabler for growth was now posing challenges to meet business objectives.
Scaling for Growth with Custom Apps
While many companies use the pre-packaged functionality in Salesforce, ISVs have also begun building custom apps using the Force.com platform due to its extensibility and rapid customization features. By using Salesforce to build native applications from the ground up, they could design innovative user interfaces that expose powerful functionality to end users. However, to truly add value, it was not just the user interface that was important, but also the back-end of the technology stack. This was especially evident when it came to aggregating data from several sources, and surfacing them in the custom Force.com apps.
On April 23rd at 10am PDT, you’ll hear how two CIOs from two different companies tackled the above integration challenges with Salesforce: Rising Star finalist of the 2013 Silicon Valley Business Journal CIO Awards, Eric Johnson of Informatica, and Computerworld’s 2014 Premier 100 IT Leaders, Derald Sue of InsideTrack.
SaaS companies are growing rapidly and becoming the top priority for most CIOs. With such high growth expectations, many SaaS vendors are investing in sales and marketing to acquire new customers even if it means having a negative net profit margin as a result. Moreover, with the pressure to grow rapidly, there is an increased urgency to ensure that the Average Sales Price (ASP) of every transaction increases in order to meet revenue targets.
The nature of the cloud allows these SaaS companies to release new features every few months, which sales reps can then promote to new customers. When new functionalities are not used nor understood, customers often feel that they have overpaid for a SaaS product. In such cases, customers usually downgrade to a lower-priced edition or worse, leave the vendor entirely. To make up for this loss, the sales representatives must work harder to acquire new leads, which results in less attention for existing customers. Preventing customer churn is very important. The Cost to Acquire a Customer (CAC) for upsells is 19% of the CAC to acquire new customer dollars. In comparison, the CAC to renew existing customers is only 15% of the CAC to acquire new customer dollars.
Accurate customer usage data helps determine which features customers use and which are under utilized. Gathering this data can help pinpoint high-value features that are not used, especially for customers that have recently upgraded to a higher edition. The process of collecting this data involves several touch points – from recording clicks within the app to analyzing the open rate of entire modules. This is where embedded cloud integration comes into play.
Embedding integration within a SaaS application allows vendors to gain operational insights into each aspect of how their app is being used. With this data, vendors are able to provide feedback to product management in regards to further improvements. Additionally, embedding integration can alert the customer success management team of potential churn, thereby allowing them to implement preventative measures.
To learn more about how a specialized analytics environment can be set up for SaaS apps, join Informatica and Gainsight on April 9th at 10am PDT for an informational webinar Powering Customer Analytics with Embedded Cloud Integration.
Within most organizations today, it is not a question of if SaaS applications should be deployed, but how quickly. The era of having to justify adoption of SaaS applications is long over, and the focus has shifted towards a deciding which SaaS applications to deploy, in which departments, and in what timeframes. With this view in mind, let us explore the typical journey that most companies take when deciding which SaaS applications to implement first.
Related: Learn more about customer facing processes vs. customer fulfillment processes in the March 25th webinar ‘Accelerate Business Velocity with NetSuite and Salesforce Integration’
Customer Facing Processes
The main impetus behind switching to a SaaS application is because of the agility the cloud brings. Customizations that normally take weeks to get implemented take minutes or days, and can be performed by employees that do not possess an in-depth knowledge of the technical infrastructure of the SaaS system. With that being said, it is customer-facing processes that require application customizations almost immediately because optimizing these processes results in bringing in revenue quickly into the company, thereby enabling CIOs to show rapid ROI of a SaaS application.
It is no wonder that front-office applications such as Salesforce have become one of the largest SaaS vendors out there today. The entire process of converting a lead to a closed opportunity has several steps in between, and may require multiple workflows in parallel. But the journey doesn’t stop there. To keep customers satisfied and retain them, their product needs to be fulfilled, and this is where customer fulfillment processes come into play.
Customer Fulfillment Processes
Once an opportunity has been closed, the process of getting the product to the customer begins. Traditionally, this role has been done by large-scale on-premise ERP vendors, but leading cloud ERP companies such as NetSuite are showing how the complex task of fulfilling orders and realizing revenue can be done faster. Processes such as applying category-specific price and quantity discounts, special tax regulations involving several regions and nations, and fulfillment through multiple delivery options all have several moving parts. Moreover, the task of invoicing the customer, collecting payment, and recording numerous financial transactions is an entire sub-process in of itself and the only way it can be streamlined is through cloud ERP applications.
Optimizing the Entire Lead-to-Cash Process with Cloud Integration
When looking at customer-facing and customer-fulfillment processes together, it is very clear that SaaS apps in both categories need to work hand-in-hand to ensure that an organization’s customers are satisfied, and continue to engage in repeat business. This is why organizations that are starting the rollout of front-office SaaS applications also need to be thinking about rolling out back-office ERP SaaS applications along with a cloud integration solution to tie it all together. In the March 25th webinar, ‘Accelerate Business Velocity with NetSuite and Salesforce Integration’, we’ll talk about a blueprint for integrating both these types of apps together and how the Australian Institute of Management deployed these apps as part of a multi-million dollar IT transformation project.
I’m astounded by the incredible turnout and response to MDM Day and other MDM-related events at Informatica World, and again, I see this as a sign of MDM’s importance in the business world. Attendees told their stories, swapped best-practices, and shared their visions of using MDM to improve up-sell, cross-sell, and other important business metrics. But now let’s keep the momentum going. Here I want to tell you about three free webinars that will help you to dive more deeply into MDM, and take your initiatives to the next level. The first is for any large organization, and the other two are for pharmaceutical companies. (more…)
For those of you hanging out at Informatica World, this is not news. For those of you who aren’t in Vegas with us, you missed the unveiling of the world’s best entry level data integration platform. So you heard it here second, not first. Next time, if you want to hear about this kind of stuff first, you have to show up at Informatica World! <shameless plug for INFAWorld 2013 complete>
So, what is it that I am bragging about? PowerCenter Express, that’s what. This is the latest addition to the Informatica PowerCenter family of products, specifically designed for entry level data integration and data profiling. This product will be downloadable over the Internet and installs in as little as 5 minutes. It is super simple to use but has all of the rich transformation functionality you are used to from Informatica. Also, you don’t have to install a separate profiling product, everything is self-contained. The product comes with built in “cheat sheets” that walk you through how to use the product in a step by step fashion. In addition, there is complete documentation as well as video based tutorials.
But best of all, PC Express delivers the kind of product quality you are accustomed to from Informatica. What does that mean? It means that unlike most of the entry level data integration products available for download, PC Express just works. It doesn’t crash just because your ETL job requires more memory than you have on your machine, it gracefully caches to disk.
But wait, there’s more. For the first time ever, Informatica is offering a FREE version of our market leading PowerCenter product. There will be two versions of PowerCenter Express:
- PowerCenter Express Personal Edition – available for FREE for a single developer at a time
- PowerCenter Express Professional Edition- available for $8K/user per year subscription (at the time of this blog post)
And one last important point. PC Express is based on the same virtual data machine as our enterprise class products and our cloud based products. This means that at some later date, if you decide you need more scalability, more users, or enterprise class features like high availability, you can easily migrate from PC Express to the other Informatica data integration product lines.
So if you are at Informatica World, you will be receiving an email outlining how you can download and try out PowerCenter Express. If you aren’t at Informatica World, maybe you have a friend who will share the secret website location where you can get a sneak peak at PowerCenter Express. If you don’t have any friends who went to Informatica world, well, you will just have to wait until the download site goes public in July. And next time you will know that you better go to Informatica World if you want to get early access to cool stuff.
In a recent Information Management blog post, Alex Bakker from Saugatuck Technology noted:
“There is an underlying problem facing many, if not most enterprise IT leaders and organizations: these technologies [Cloud, Mobile, Social, Analytics and Integration] have developed much faster than enterprise IT groups and practices have been able to adopt and manage them.”
The good news is a topic that was once considered the “Achilles heel of cloud computing” is increasingly being recognized as the key enabler of cloud success: integration and data management. With that in mind, Informatica rolled out our Summer 2013 release this week. Here are some highlights and useful resources. (more…)
In Ashwin Viswanath’s previous video blog, he spoke about why it is important to have a cloud integration solution that has purpose-built integration applications. In this video, he delves deeper into the security aspects of cloud integration and how to rapidly provision integration environments for distributed business units, subsidiaries and departments in a quick and efficient manner.
In Ashwin Viswanath’s previous blog post, SaaS Data Integration for SaaS Applications, he explained how SaaS applications are much more dynamic than on-premises business applications with new fields and objects added with just a few clicks. This same agility is required when it comes to integrating SaaS applications, which is why it is important to have a hybrid IT strategy for your data integration architecture. Informatica PowerCenter together with Informatica Cloud can help you get started with such a strategy.
In a recent Sand Hill article, Jeff Kaplan, the managing director of THINKstrategies, reports on the recent and changing state of data integration with the addition of cloud computing. “One of the ongoing challenges that continues to frustrate businesses of all sizes is data integration, and that issue has only become more complicated with the advent of the cloud. And, in the brave new world of the cloud, data integration must morph into a broader set of data management capabilities to satisfy the escalating needs of today’s business.” (more…)
On Wednesday we announced our latest cloud integration release – Informatica Cloud Spring 2013. It’s a major step forward in terms of breadth and depth for our software as a service (SaaS) solution. Why, you ask?
- Didn’t all of our cloud integration customers get upgraded to the Winter release in November?
- Didn’t we just broaden into cloud-based master data management (MDM)?
- Don’t we have 3-4 releases per year?
Well, yes…but…there are a few aspects to today’s announcement that I think are particularly noteworthy. Here’s a summary.