The Blog

  • April 21, 2013
  • AppExchange eBook

    We’ve compiled a group of posts on notable success stories from the AppExchange into an eBook that you can download here.  Alternatively, if you don’t want to fill in the form, you can simply search on each company’s name to read the original posts.  The companies are listed in the last paragraph below.

    Nine Years ago I wrote The New Garage.  It was a thought piece that tried to peer into the future of Software as a Service (SaaS) and make some predictions from a business and economics perspective.  Salesforce had recently started promoting its platform in the making (then called S-Force) and encouraging third parties to develop applications that complemented and extended the basic Salesforce CRM solution so there was reason to speculate about the impact this new approach would have.

    But also, the history of business and industry is a long story of better, faster and cheaper and at that moment all three were all in the driver’s seat.  Back office software had already demonstrated many business process improvements leveraging automation and the Internet, and I thought it was time to turn some of these techniques on software.  SaaS was a good start but it had further to go, I thought.

    Early impacts lead to tipping point

    I saw S-Force as a tool and an economic system that could revolutionize software, making it possible to create and deploy it in a just in time fashion.  At that time you almost had to be nuts to think that.  After all, even after the initial success of SaaS, software was still something you installed and slaved over for a long time before you got it right, not something you could just plug in like an appliance.  And integration?  Don’t ask! What was I thinking?

    “We’re at a tipping point,” that’s what I was thinking.

    The cold, hard truth of the matter was that you couldn’t expect to sell software subscriptions for a few bucks a month and encumber yourself with all the overhead of a traditional software company because you’d go broke.  Something had to give.  Either software would forever be something you sculpted from a block of marble or you had to figure out how to stamp out perfect copies that plugged in and just ran — no excuses.

    My bet was that we could do the stamping but it wasn’t based on any hard economic data. It was based only the conviction that commoditization would have to continue and that something like what’s now the AppExchange would be the result.  In truth, there were predecessors to the AppExchange.  Steve Jobs opened an online store at NeXT in 1997 and six years later in 2003 Apple set iTunes in motion and today you can buy tens of thousands of apps at the AppStore for all your Apple devices.

    All in a name

    It’s hardly remembered today but the AppStore (name and domain) were originally Salesforce properties and that CEO, Marc Benioff, gave them to Apple.  According to a 2008 Benioff interview with Bloomberg, Jobs had met with Benioff and his team in 2003 to offer advice on the Salesforce online store and the gift was a gesture of gratitude by Benioff to Jobs.

    A store for enterprises

    But those were consumer sites; there had never been an online application store for enterprise grade software until salesforce.com launched the AppExchange in January 2006.  This year marks the seventh anniversary for AppExchange an odd anniversary to celebrate perhaps, but a good chance to look at the AppExchange to see how well it is living up to the original vision.  Here are some of my observations.

    • The partners have built a long list of useful solutions including HR systems, field service, accoun
    Published: 5 years ago


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