What is our primary use case?
We originally started using Salesforce Platform for our sales guys who go into the market every day. They wanted a common platform that is scalable and easy to work with, especially for the clients. We took to Salesforce because it filled this need, and because it came with multiple apps from different vendors and partners that could be integrated with it.
The sales team do route planning, meeting planning, and then they take a particular vehicle to particular retailers. Then they talk to them and find out their reason for taking or not taking a particular order, so that my marketing team and other teams can take action.
How has it helped my organization?
In 2015, we decided we should be on cloud. That is, we should not build our own infrastructure, hardware, network, database, etc., because then you cannot focus on the business outcomes; you're focusing more on the infrastructure. With Salesforce Platform, we are able to focus on business outcomes and we need not worry about infrastructure at all.
What is most valuable?
We found that the dashboard creation is very simple, so we got all our data in one place and we told users: now it's your job to create whatever analytics you want on the backend. So instead of generically recreating and redefining everything, what we did is we allowed our users access to all the fields that let them select and define their own graphs and analytics and so on. When used like this, it is very simple for users and doesn't require any technical IT skills from their point of view.
We like that the technology is very agile and flexible in the sense that there's a large partner ecosystem within Salesforce Platform. This enables us to choose from many different partners with different advantages, and all of it can be done in a plug-and-play kind of way.
One other aspect that is very important to us is that Salesforce Platform is a global platform and widely available across all of India.
What needs improvement?
Although the platform is already set up for you, there's a lot of customization that needs to be done, especially for any new component we start using. For whatever solution we wanted, we had to think for ourselves and design it all on our own. And, unfortunately, there were some components that were not really mature in the beginning, like Tableau for example. I would like to see Salesforce better, or more quickly, integrate the applications that they acquire, like Tableau and Slack.
Technologies are changing rapidly nowadays, and customers are requesting all sorts of new integrations. For example, some are asking for WhatsApp integrations, AI and ML integrations, etc. When you're using a single platform such as Salesforce or SAP, your data quality is the one thing that is taken care of, and we would like to continue managing our data across many different integration channels.
For how long have I used the solution?
We've been using Salesforce Platform for almost four years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It's a very stable solution. We haven't had many issues with stability.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
With our environment of around 1500 users, there have hardly been any performance or scalability issues.
How are customer service and technical support?
I don't think I have ever called technical support for an explanation or anything. At least not for the solution that we use for our sales staff who visit the markets.
How was the initial setup?
The setup was really straightforward. The one hitch was that when first setting up our customers, to capture their details and enter them into the system, we found that not all of them had reliable internet access. However, I understand that this is not a product challenge, but rather a practical or technical challenge.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
The licensing is per user per month, which we took out a contract on a long time back. It's really an okay price for what solutions are available and for how many features and what kind of functionality you get.
The only thing is that, regarding the pricing contract, if you agree on 2000 users, you have to pay for 2000, even if you only have 1500. An agreement for 2000 users was in our contract, so we had to pay a little bit extra because we only have about 1500 users currently.
What other advice do I have?
I can recommend Salesforce Platform to others with no hesitation. For a PaaS, all the infrastructure was in place. But when you begin with a new platform, you have to start from scratch at level zero and then keep on maturing. Thus, my advice to my team and everyone else is: don't complicate from day one. You start, make it simple, keep on using it, make sure it's working correctly and so on, and from there on out things are very easy for users.
I would rate Salesforce Platform a seven out of ten.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?
If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?