Salesforce has been shortlisted for four awards at the V3 Technology Awards 2014, with the firm hoping to take the V3 reader vote for best business application, SaaS provider, innovator for its entry into the wearables market, and Technology Hero for chief executive and chairman Marc Benioff.
V3 spoke to managing director and SVP at Salesforce UK Andrew Lawson (pictured) ahead of the awards on 28 November, to get an insight into the firm's goals for 2015 and what he sees as the biggest current technology trends.
V3: What has Salesforce been focusing on over the last year?
Andrew Lawson: 2014 has been another big year of innovation for Salesforce, focused on helping our customers deliver success through our Customer Success Platform.
New Salesforce offerings include industry-specific iterations of the Salesforce1 platform, including solutions for retail and financial services; Wave, the first cloud analytics platform designed for every business user, making it easier than ever for anyone to explore data, uncover new insights and take action instantly from any device; and Salesforce1 Lightning, the next generation of the Salesforce1 Platform which empowers anyone to quickly build the innovative mobile apps that every company needs.
We also launched Salesforce Wear, the industry's first initiative for wearable computing in the enterprise. The initiative engages with 1.5 million enterprise developers to build business apps for market-leading wearables.
Finally, we've expanded our pan-European footprint and investment significantly this year. We've opened a data centre in the UK, we're growing our employee base throughout EMEA and we will open data centres in Germany and France in 2015.
What are the biggest trends in the business technology space affecting Salesforce's strategy?
The biggest trend, now and for the foreseeable future, is customer success. That's what we help our customers focus on and achieve. We believe that all of the big trends, from the 'Internet of Things/Internet of Customers' to wearables, and from analytics to app development, should be seen through the lens of the customer. This is how we, and the industry as a whole, will ensure long-term success for all.
What are the biggest concerns and challenges for firms, and their IT managers in particular?
The power and importance of the customer requires businesses to be available for lightning-quick service. This is possible to achieve, but to do it well requires information and insights to be available instantly, whenever, wherever.
This is the biggest challenge our customers need to overcome. We talk about this in practical terms around enabling all employees, at all levels, to run the business from their phones, making the right intelligence available at the right time, in an accessible format.
What are Salesforce's plans for 2015?
Our main focus is to address the growing demand from our customers for a mobile first, customer-centric approach to business and technology. Our customers use Salesforce to connect with their customers, partners, employees and communities in turn, so our ongoing development is focused on helping our customers access data and software easily through the cloud, using any device, anywhere, at any time.
What do you think will be the biggest IT trends for 2015?
We see a number of major trends for 2015 in the UK, including running your business from your phone. In 2015, most business managers will use a mobile dashboard to access apps that enable them to run their businesses from their phones. I run my business from my phone today, and it makes a very positive difference to how I can manage customer needs quickly and effectively.
2015 will be the year of the startup. 2014 saw increased startup growth in the ISV and developer community, and I think this will only increase next year. In November, Vince Cable announced £50m funding for startups with innovative science and technology ideas, contributing to the buzz around this sector.
Next year will also see the rise of the citizen programmer. App development isn't just for professional developers anymore. We expect that over the next year huge numbers of 'citizen coders' will create all kinds of applications using Salesforce's easy-to-use development platform, and those applications will in turn solve multiple problems for British businesses.
Wearables will be another big area. 2014 saw high-profile launches like Apple Watch and Puls, and the developer platforms that will enable real benefits from wearables - like Salesforce Wear - have also now been created. We expect wearables to move more firmly into the business world in 2015, powering the Internet of Customers and improving employee productivity.
Finally, there will be more giving back to the community. It's not enough to just work within a community and we're seeing a trend in giving back. At Salesforce, we use a simple model: leverage one percent of the company's product, equity and time to improve communities around the world.
Here in the UK, our employees have given more than 9,000 hours to UK charities, and many senior leaders I speak to in the UK are interested in joining us in giving back.
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