Salesforce.com is well know CRM provider. More than that, Salesforce.com is well know by pioneering SaaS and later Cloud applications. If you follow Salesforce closely you can see that company is strongly moving into direction to become a platform. There are many confirmation to that. AppExchange is one of them and it hit an interesting milestone very recently – 2 million downloaded and installed applications. Navigate here to read more.
I’ve been reading TechCrunch article – Salesforce Is A Platform Company. Period. Read an article and draw your own opinion. I found the following passage interesting:
In essence, Salesforce is using its CRM platform as a data source with apps serving as data-integration packages, which it makes available on its AppExchange platform. This data can then be integrated with third-party apps from companies such as Dropbox, Marketo and Evernote, its latest partner. Salesforce.com launched AppExchange in 2006. In 2011, the company reached the 1 million installation mark, and with today’s totals it is growing at a pace that reflects the broader adoption of mobile in the enterprise.
Salesforce indeed is moving into platform direction. Navigate to the following link to explore broad richness of Salesforce platform offering. First, you can see a standard number of platform features – identity, user access, website development, translation services and some others. However, there are few additional platform capabilities you don’t want to miss – Chatter (social collaboration, maybe the most well know horizontal service), Database.com – cloud data platform, Mobile Services, Visual Workflow and more.
Growing capability of Salesforce.com as a platform (PaaS) made me think about potential of Salesforce to serve as a platform for PLM applications. Three platform services I just mentioned above can provide an interesting foundation for collaborative engineering application. The combination of structured data management (database.com), ad-hoc collaboration (chatter) and formal processes (visual workflow) can be used to build a simple lifecycle application to manage ECO approval, design or BOM changes as well as collaboration within the team. There are 51 partners mentioned on the AppExchange ERP page. There is no PDM, PLM, engineering and manufacturing applications category yet.
What is my conclusion? Salesforce platform is interesting and growing. Let me to put a provoking statement – the basic set of platform features is a good starter kit for PLM application. However, I can point out on some missing elements of data management, integration with CAD applications and more. However, it is not must have as a starter, in my view. A potential showstopper will be “close” character of Salesforce.com PaaS. It can stop established PLM platforms from supporting Salesforce.com platform, but cannot provide a tangible resistance to startups planning to disrupt new cloud manufacturing offerings. Just my thoughts… What is your take? Who will develop first PLM for Salesforce.com platform?