Apple was not the first company to develop a smartphone. BellSouth had sold around 50,000 IBM Simons 13 years before Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone at MacWorld 2007.
Yet apart from a few tech history buffs, practically no one remembers Simon today. In contrast, Apple’s devices have been etched into our collective memory.
By combining existing technologies into a product that will be immediately appealing to consumers, Salesforce intends to pull off an Apple with Customer 360.
A 360-Degree View of Customers Is an Old Dream
CEOs want their departments to be always up-to-date with the customer data the company has.
Although the idea is simple, the benefits of implementing it are immense.
Imagine contacting a customer—who already has an unresolved complaint with your support department—with a promotional offer. The response would be anything but good news for your brand.
Companies want a solution and Oracle has been talking about one since 2013. Although popular, Oracle Siebel 360 has a long way before it becomes mainstream.
Even Microsoft, which already has a customer ID system in place for its Dynamics ERP and CRM, is having a hard time convincing enterprises to move to its platform en masse.
Nonetheless, Salesforce is convinced that Customer 360 will make a headway where Oracle and Microsoft are struggling.
This confidence is not unfounded.
Customer 360 Might Be the Product that Fulfills the Dream
Salesforce does not store much of the world’s enterprise data, which still resides on legacy systems.
Even for a CEO as charismatic as Marc Benioff, it would be well-nigh impossible to convince enterprises to discard the systems they have been using successfully for decades and move to the Salesforce’s cloud.
Technical complications aside, such a move would be exorbitantly expensive. So Salesforce is not even trying.
Customer 360 is not a customer data platform (CDP), but a super-platform that creates customer meta-profiles. It does not keep a record of all client interactions. The data remains in the system where it originated. Only the core attributes needed to identify an individual are kept; if more data is needed then it is fetched from the system where it is actually stored.
The data storage system can be Marketing Cloud, Sales Cloud, SAP, Dynamics ERP, or any of the 1,100 apps that an average enterprise uses.
Instead of starting from scratch, companies can build on what they already have. Salesforce is counting on this feature to win the hearts and minds of CEOs.
(As a side note, the feature is built on top of Mulesoft’s Anypoint Platform which Salesforce acquired for $6.5 billion earlier this year.)
What Precisely Is Going to Happen Now?
Salesforce is planning to test Customer 360 in North America first and then announce a global release in the middle of 2019.
As for Salesforce Admins, they can count on receiving an uber-dashboard that will allow them to manage multiple clouds simultaneously.