Key Lessons for Leading the Business App Revolution

This week, top founders, execs, and investors in SaaS from around the world will convene in San Francisco for SaaStr Annual 2017. Over the course of this three-day conference, attendees will hear from more than 250 of the world’s leading SaaS experts — including our own Leyla Seka, EVP of AppExchange — to learn about the state of the industry, gather secrets from the experts, and network with the best.

While it’s impossible to predict all of the insightful lessons that will result from this meeting of brilliant minds, you’ll certainly hear recurring themes throughout the conference. Check out four overarching themes — summed up perfectly by Leyla in this recent Harvard Business Review Analytic Report — that we’ll be discussing next week during the SaaStr Annual panel, ‘The Salesforce MBA: What We Learned,’ featuring Leyla Seka, Stitch Fix, FinancialForce and more.

True success with business apps calls for big-picture thinking.

Business apps have transformed the way we work, but what sets those leading businesses apart from the rest? Industry leaders aren’t treating business apps as quick-fix tools to address niche marketing and sales problems, but rather as a way to transform the way they do business with a truly cross-functional approach. As Leyla says: “By choosing to build apps on a common platform, businesses are able to connect to their existing technology solutions — whether CRM, ERP or otherwise — driving holistic workflows that stretch across their business and ultimately uncover insights.”

Customer expectations require a connected and customizable solution.

Today, apps touch nearly every aspect of modern life — from our daily calendars to our transportation needs — meaning (you guessed it) rising expectations for convenience, simplicity, and customization. Leyla’s advice for meeting ever-growing customer expectations: “As businesses consider creating apps as part of this global paradigm shift, it is important they consider the factors that make apps most successful for them and their customers. Namely, apps work best in an extendable marketplace that is fully customizable and can be tailored to the unique needs of companies and individuals,” she says. “The future is a place where we don’t conform to the apps, but rather the apps conform to us.”

Constant change is critical to success.

In an industry that moves at the speed of light, agile adaptation is a must — it’s what makes the exchange of ideas and experiences through conferences like SaaStr Annual so important. “To be truly great in technology, one must learn to love and embrace change,” Leyla says. “In fact, your future life will likely revolve around creating change. Your job will be to break things and make them better.” So, be fearless, be open-minded, and show up to SaaStr Annual ready to make whatever adjustments needed to make 2017 your best year yet. As Leyla says, “Embrace the change; it is the only constant.”

It’s no longer just about platforms — it’s about community.

Innovative and future-looking businesses will make their technology decisions by carefully considering not only the platform, but also the ecosystem around the platform. “When businesses invest in a platform, they also become a part of it,” Leyla said. “They are joining the community surrounding the technology: customers, partners, developers, employees and more. This community uncovers even more innovative ways to help businesses. It is the ultimate innovation engine.”

Looking for more essential lessons for 2017? Check out the agenda to learn where Salesforce will be at SaaStr Annual, and join us on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. to hear more from Leyla Seka as well as executives George Hu, Cathy Polinsky, and Tod Nielsen. Don’t miss this panel on what they learned from their experience at Salesforce, and their top lessons and takeaways for other SaaS leaders.