“Everyone can be an AppExchange partner.” That’s how Salesforce RVP Aaron McGarry kicked off the conversation when he took the stage at Dreamforce to host a panel discussion on integration options and the changing world of channel partnerships in the Salesforce ecosystem.
Joined by Doug Chaney, VP of Business Development at Salesforce, Aaron invited three ecosystem experts to the stage to discuss their particular expertise on partnering in the Salesforce ecosystem:
- Ken Lorenz, Director of Sales and Alliances at Riva CRM
- Tom Davis, Partnerships Manager at MailChimp
- Brian Walsh, CEO at CodeScience
The result is a conversation you‘ll want to follow closely — particularly if learning how to integrate your app with Salesforce is on your to-do list for 2018 (or sooner). Check out four key takeaways from the discussion below, and be sure to check out the webinar on December 14th to learn why it’s now faster and easier to integrate with Salesforce.
The world of partnering with Salesforce is changing.
You may have noticed that the AppExchange made a number of significant announcements in 2017, from relaunching the AppExchange Partner Program in May to introducing the new AppExchange in October. These changes reflect a larger shift toward a more open ecosystem of solutions around Salesforce (and, in short, a look at what’s in the best interest of end customers — but more on that in a minute).
So it stands to reason that the way that Salesforce partners with ISVs on the technical side of things would begin to shift as well, as this panel highlighted. As Aaron put it:
“We realize that the world has grown and that people have a lot of options. So we want to be inclusive of everyone, regardless of your technology stack or how your business wants to partner. We want to figure out a way to make it work.”
There are three different approaches you can take.
The solution to being more inclusive? Offering more ways to partner. Salesforce now offers three different ways for partners to integrate with the platform:
Native apps: “Native apps are pretty self-explanatory,” as Aaron said. “They’re built natively on top of Salesforce.” So, this includes all apps that build their full stack on top of the Salesforce Platform.
Composite apps: Composite apps, as explained by Aaron, “are a combination of your off-platform product plus fairly substantial functionality on our side. So, if you’re familiar with our packaging technology, it’s what lives inside of the package and it’s what controls the logic inside of Salesforce.”
Connector apps: This is a lightweight, API-only integration. This approach is a way for more off-platform partners to integrate with Salesforce and, a great way if the partner wants to start — as Brian put it—with “a toe-in-the water” approach.
‘Coopetition’ isn’t a deal breaker.
Overlap with Salesforce features and/or functionality is a virtual guarantee for businesses these days. So, what happens when a partner competes with Salesforce? ‘Coopetition’—a phrase Tom aptly applied to the former MailChimp-Salesforce relationship:
“There was this ‘coopetition’ where we wanted to both work together in away that benefited our mutual users, but we were always a little bit at arm’s distance. With the Connector model, it allowed us to say: ‘Hey, we can now start officially working with you guys in a way that makes sense for our business model and your new business model.’”
In a tech landscape where competition between stacks is inevitable, finding ways to work together for the sake of customer experience is critical. Another thing to keep in mind: there are whole teams at Salesforce that are entirely removed from competitive compensation and solely focused on partner success and the success of partners’ customers.
Which brings me nicely to the fourth and final takeaway:
Cooperation is what makes the most sense for the end customer.
The bottom line? Whether businesses choose to build on the platform or connect in via API, at the end of the day, a more inclusive and democratic ecosystem is what makes the most sense for end customers of both Salesforce and partners. As pointed out by Doug:
“That’s what our end customers want. They just want to say: ‘If I have a problem with email, or if I have a problem with a marketing campaign and I’m using somebody else’s product, how can I know that they have a touchpoint internally at Salesforce that they can at least have that communication, and we can all play nice together?’”
And this, in turn, is leading the charge on a shift to a more inclusive and varied ecosystem of apps — and to more choices for customers.
Interested in becoming an AppExchange partner? Join the webinar on December 14th to learn why there’s never been a better time than now.