What is Salesforce.com?

I find that this kind of defining question seems simple enough, but so many people (even supposed experts) really do not have a grasp of the words they seem to use each day. Words they take for granted. You’d be surprised what kinds of answers I get when I ask people to define the word “shirt”. And you’ll really enjoy watching as I ask them what Google is. Even before the restructuring and introduction of Alphabet, very few people would say (or recognize/internalize) that Google is a company — as opposed a website or search engine — a brand with multiple offerings. In fact, ask people sometime what Google is and watch them squirm for a minute or two as they realize it is so much more than what the initially think…Google.com, GMail, Google Drive, Google Apps, Search Appliance, Google Car, Youtube, Compute Engine, Maps, Chrome, AdWords, AdMod, Google Analytics, Google Glass (maybe Project Aura), Nexus phones, Android, Google Play, Google Music, Blogger, Google+, Hangouts, Chromebooks, ChromeOS, Google Self-Driving Car Project, and the list goes on and on and on).

Like Google, which started as a search engine and even has a popularized verb associated to its brand due to its initial focus as a search engine (e.g. “just Google it”), Salesforce also has a bit of a history due to its initial focus area (a SaaS CRM system for sales teams) that follows it into the complex world of modern-day branding confusion like a creepy stalker.

Like Google and Alphabet, Salesforce is a company with many, many offerings introduced over the years through innovative growth, restructuring/re-branding, and acquisitions. As of this writing, Salesforce likes to organize its offerings into the following main categories:

  • IOT


  • Sales Cloud
    • Manage contacts and track opportunities from any desktop or device.
  • SalesforceIQ
    • Email intelligence features integrated with CRM.
  • SteelBrick Quote-to-Cash
    • Deliver accurate quotes, proposals, and contracts. Plus, automate billing, subscriptions, and revenue recognition.
  • Data.com
    • Integrate, clean, and enhance B2B customer data to improve sales and marketing.


  • Service Cloud
    • Faster, smarter customer service.
  • Desk.com
    • All-in-one customer support app helps small businesses quickly offer personalized service on every channel.


  • Marketing Cloud
    • Build 1-to-1 customer journeys with the world’s most powerful digital marketing platform.
  • Pardot
    • Accelerate pipeline and drive sales with B2B marketing automation.


  • Community Cloud
    • Empower customers, partners, and employees to tackle anything, anywhere, with an online collaboration platform.
  • Chatter
    • Turn social into a powerful business tool. Connect employees with the files, data, and expertise they need.


  • Wave Analytics
    • Ask questions, drill into data, and find new opportunities with self-service analytics platform.
  • Wave Apps
    • Bring the power of Wave Analytics to Sales and Service Cloud, and deliver customizable insights to any device at the right time.


  • App Cloud
    • The world’s #1 enterprise cloud platform, with all the tools and services you need to build apps.
  • Force.com
    • Build web, business, social, and mobile apps.
  • Heroku Enterprise
    • Build apps faster than ever with enterprise features and native Salesforce data integration.


  • IoT Cloud
    • Transform big data into real-time actions with tools that connect the internet of things to Salesforce.
  • Thunder
    • Massive engine for processing billions of events a day in near real time.


So, Salesforce is much more than a CRM, much more than a SaaS solution. The above list will only change and grow drastically over the next months and years. In fact, this month alone, Salesforce acquired DemandWare, which offers a leading eCommerce platform. And other aspects of branding that were extremely hot in the not-so-distant past such as “Salesforce1” and “Lightning” are no longer front-and-center of Salesforce marketing, making way for new hot topics like “IoT Cloud” and “Thunder”. Beyond the current capabilities, features, and offerings of Salesforce that some may use to define it, it is critical to realize Salesforce is truly a company that has managed to capture the minds and hearts of SMBs and enterprises alike over the past decade. It has also captured the interest of the ever-so-critical developer communities and systems integrator partner ecosystem (see Salesforce AppExchange) that will continue to be critical in Salesforce’s growth and evolution. And as such, Salesforce is poised to continue to make a huge impact on the way businesses and organizations around the world will operate now and in the future.

Note: Salesforce is the way the company refers to itself these days, but I believe its official name is still “salesforce.com, inc.” and so you will often see the company called Salesforce and salesforce.com interchangeably. (This is different from Google, where google.com is not an official/acceptable form of the corporate name).

Why has Salesforce captured the minds and hearts of business users? There are many reasons, but it’s modern feel (look-and-feel as well as practical functionality) when compared to other business applications is certainly one of the top reasons. The advancements and adoption of technology by people (e.g. smartphones becoming ubiquitous) in their personal lives has left business users frustrated with business applications that cannot be experienced as intuitively (nor as beautifully) as the personal applications (“apps”) they use everyday. Salesforce, though not always at the bleeding edge of technology like personal apps, has done a much better job of staying up with these kinds of user UI/UX expectations when compared to its competitors.
What is Alphabet? Alphabet is mostly a collection of companies. The largest of which, of course, is Google. This newer Google is a bit slimmed down, with the companies that are pretty far afield of our main internet products contained in Alphabet instead. What do we mean by far afield? Good examples are our health efforts: Life Sciences (that works on the glucose-sensing contact lens), and Calico (focused on longevity). Fundamentally, we believe this allows us more management scale, as we can run things independently that aren’t very related.

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