Salesforce the first company to jump into SaaS only bandwagon has built out a more complete CRM offering, with solid Sales Force Automation, Contact Center Automation and Marketing Automation solutions. Additionally, the company has brought to market its Force.com platform, allowing users and partners to develop their own on-demand applications to supplement those developed by Salesforce. The company has also pushed into the collaboration / enterprise social networking space with the company’s Chatter solution and integrated social media technology into the fabric of its product / service offerings.

What to Expect at DreamForce 2012 ?
As usual more will flow on the marketing automation leg of the business. Radian6 and Buddy Media are two cornerstone products acquired over the past year to form the basis of the marketing cloud to complement the sales cloud and service automation clouds. Rypple (acquired last December) is being positioned as the cornerstone of the company’s talent management product offering, and for now called Work.com, and we wonder if a broader product line (the HR cloud) will be far behind.

Salesforce.com is moving very fast in positioning itself in new growth markets and we think it will be hard for competitors to catch-up. They would harvest the low-hanging fruit in the sales automation market and then be compelled to expand into adjacent markets of marketing and service automation. This may be unfolding now and there are clear parallels and risks, but we are struck by how fast CRM has moved to reposition itself to leverage the benefits of the social enterprise and transform its offerings into a new generation of services that are engineered uniquely for the cloud and for the social enterprise. SAP and Oracle will find it hard replicate given the concern about disrupting their existing products, and the pace of innovation is breathtaking as new social media is embraced by saleforce in its products as part of the fabric of the workflow.

SalesForce vs Traditional Software Vendors
Marc Benioff has an affinity for market innovation and pioneering leadership and a drive to provide sustainable business advantage, while traditional on-premise software vendors SAP, Oracle and Microsoft aspire to follow in the move to the cloud through acquisition.

Venturing into HR / Talent Management and Eventually into Related ERP
Salesforce.com is likely to expand the product offering beyond the narrow confines of the front office or CRM market and expand to address the talent management segment of the HCM market and ultimately perhaps the more mission critical HRIS systems and broader ERP market for financials, in competition with Workday and ultimately with SAP and Oracle.

We grade its CRM an A+ for vision and innovation and ability to identify an emerging new market opportunity, but the execution is still at a very early stage in moving beyond the front office market. The results over the past several quarters (and as likely to be demonstrated at Dreamforce) suggest that the company is gaining increasing traction as SaaS has likely now moved beyond the evaluation or early adopter stage to mainstream adoption.
Do you have any thoughts on the direction for this company ?