(Note: After an award-winning career in the media business covering the tech industry, Bob Evans was VP of Strategic Communications at SAP in 2011,
(Note: After an award-winning career in the media business covering the tech industry, Bob Evans was VP of Strategic Communications at SAP in 2011, and Chief Communications Officer at Oracle from 2012 to 2016. He now runs his own firm, Evans Strategic Communications LLC.)
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Helping CEOs and CMOs articulate their unique strategic value to customers
While Salesforce.com executives spoke glowingly of how their entire product portfolio contributed to their excellent Q2 results, the big story was the huge strategic boost from the recent acquisition of MuleSoft as Salesforce execs raved about how C-suites now regard data and application integration as indispensable elements of digital transformation.
Yes, co-CEO Keith Block touted the first $1-billion quarter for Sales Cloud, and co-CEO Marc Benioff spoke in detail about the sweeping transformative power of AI in general and Einstein in particular, but the Q&A session with analysts was dominated by questions about how MuleSoft is expanding the strategic impact Salesforce is having in helping CEOs turn their companies into end-to-end digital businesses.
In his prepared remarks, co-CEO Block-who was elevated to that position just several weeks ago-said that MuleSoft “is off to a fast start” in its first quarter as part of Salesforce because its Anypoint platform “has become indispensable for digital transformation-it’s in every conversation we have with senior executives.”
Block noted that in Q2, New York Life, Schneider Electric and the state of Colorado each “selected MuleSoft to transform their enterprise.”
Block also noted that with the inclusion of MuleSoft’s results for Q2, Salesforce’s platform revenue grew 54% for the period.
Co-CEO Benioff put it this way when he mentioned MuleSoft and integration in his opening remarks: “More and more companies are connect everything and everyone, and they’re realizing that integration is vital to their success and to their digital transformation. And they’re turning to Salesforce MuleSoft, the No. 1 Integration Cloud, to do it.”
But it was in the Q&A session when MuleSoft really took center stage, and here are a few of the exchanges describing how Salesforce is now using MuleSoft to become more strategically valuable to C-level customers who realize they can no longer accept having their data assets fragmented, disconnected and incompatible.
Asked if MuleSoft can play a role in Salesforce’s fast-growing vertical cloud business, Salesforce president and chief products officer Bret Taylor said, “One of the best opportunities we have from MuleSoft and our Integration Cloud is aligning it with our vertical solutions. In financial services and healthcare, it’s really about transforming the customer experience and we can’t do that unless we unlock the data in their legacy systems, either electronic medical records or the incredible investments the financial industry’s made in back-office systems.
“So it’s really about aligning MuleSoft with our overall value proposition: transforming customer experiences and up-leveling the conversation from an IT tactical decision to a strategic decision centered on transforming the customer experience,” Taylor said.
“And that’s the opportunity that we see over and over again: It’s not only an IT problem for the CIO, it’s a business problem for the CEO.”
Block jumped in to underscore Taylor’s point, saying, “This morning I received an email from the CEO of one of the largest banks in EMEA who wants to bring over his entire executive team to talk about how MuleSoft could help unlock their data…. There’s huge opportunity in this space.”
In answer to a followup question, Block went even further: “You can’t have a conversation right now with a customer without that customer talking about MuleSoft. Everybody wants to talk about the importance of integration as it relates to digital transformation. So, we’re very, very optimistic.”
Taylor added that as growing numbers of customers are “lifting and shifting their infrastructure from their own on-premises data centers to the cloud-and every customer operating at scale is using some combination of public cloud, private cloud, on-premises and sometimes even mainframes-they can’t wait for all those technology changes to sort out before transforming their customer experience. And that’s the promise of MuleSoft: we can actually transform it now.”
In response to yet another analyst question about MuleSoft, Taylor said that unless businesses are able to overcome their internal data silos, they’ll never be able to deliver personalized and elegant experiences for customers-and he offered a good model for how other cloud vendors should describe the value of their services.
“I don’t view our product portfolio as separate products for separate clouds-I view it as stages of a customer lifecycle and as customer touchpoints.
“And so we really see it as an integrated and transformed customer experience…. Every single one of Salesforce’s customers wants that integrated experience that pulls together all the different departments, all the different legacy systems, and provides an integrated view of the customer.”
Later, replying to still another question about MuleSoft, Block pulled it all together by saying that it’s simply not possible for companies to stand still in a time when data-driven digital business requires new ways of engaging with the world.
“If you think historically about what’s going on in the world with legacy tech-the processes that have built up over decades and the technology behind those business processes-we’re now in the fourth industrial revolution and we have these amazing technologies, so those businesses have to be agile and nimble, and they have to reinvent themselves and drive new business models.
“And if they can’t get access to all their data, if they can’t leverage the strength of all that data-then they’ll miss out on the opportunity,” Block said.
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“And if you’re a CEO, you can think about an offensive strategy or a defensive strategy, but you must do something -and that’s what we’re seeing in these conversations.
“And that’s why I get excited about MuleSoft.”
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