What Makes the Salesforce AppExchange Important to Manufacturing Cloud ERP Buyers and Users?

Almost anyone buying any type of business application software quickly runs into the name "Salesforce." In addition, they quickly find, any software vendor running on the Salesforce platform tends to promote the Salesforce name and encourage its users to implement other types of software listed on the Salesforce AppExchange. It may sound self-serving (and, in some ways, it is) but companies listed on the AppExchange want you to know something that's very important to you that may not be so obvious as you are only looking at an ERP or an accounting package. Here's what they want you to consider.

As the availability of cloud-based software has exploded, the complicated system of interdependent components that work together to enable cloud services has come to be called the “cloud ecosystem.” One of the most popular of these cloud platforms is Salesforce. With the rapid growth of the Salesforce ecosystem, more and more companies now consider independent software vendors’ cloud applications for that platform. This also applies to those companies looking for cloud-based ERP solutions.

Many companies that have their CRM and other software on the Salesforce platform now consider an ERP written on Salesforce to be mandatory. By doing so, the company can leverage its investment in the Salesforce platform and integrate their ERP seamlessly with their other Salesforce cloud apps. Sometimes, the ERP is the first cloud software but the theory remains the same. Whichever comes first, they can later leverage their Salesforce investment by selecting other business software applications on the Salesforce AppExchange. Consider this example from Pacer Group, a leading wire and electrical cable manufacturer that offers custom electrical products, value-added solutions and parts distribution.

"Our former ERP system had become dated, being too cumbersome and difficult to use while not providing us with the depth of manufacturing that we needed," affords John M. Swiatkowski, President, Pacer Group, "At the same time, we were at the size of a company in which it is inefficient to host an on-premise system but that needs the functionality and mobility which the Cloud provides. We also wanted an ERP that would leverage our Salesforce.com system. Inputs from our sales and marketing people are important to us and they were already using Salesforce so we wanted to be sure to compliment that effort with our manufacturing ERP."

In an interview with AppDeveloper magazine, Salesforce Vice President of App Cloud Marketing shares that there are more the 2,800 apps available on the AppExchange across sales, service, marketing, finance, collaboration and more - including ERP.

Bottom Line - Salesforce Apps Integrate Easily with Each Other

As companies look to move their systems to the cloud, they also want cloud-based software that can be easily integrated with their other apps. Most everyone understands that third-party applications that share the same platform are usually easier to manage and integrate. As Gartner confirms, they provide end users with a consistent interface and experience. Salesforce has a huge lead over its competitors when it comes to ecosystem and platform maturity, as it clearly has the most applications, customers, revenue and advanced features, making it the clear market leader, says Gartner.

Thus, a 100 percent native Salesforce ERP solution can integrate with other, wholly separate apps built on the Salesforce platform, such as Avalara and Zencraft. Avalara makes cloud-based address validation and correction apps (for example, customer addresses, sales order addresses and divisional address of origination), sales tax calculations for orders and invoices and the recording of sales invoices where the data can be used for reporting and returns. Avalara is built on Salesforce and can be integrated with a Salesforce-based ERP via an API.

Zenkraft builds shipping applications for Salesforce. They have shipping apps for FedEx, UPS and USPS that let Salesforce users process shipments, generate labels and track packages. Again, because Zencraft is built on Salesforce, it can be integrated with a Salesforce-based ERP. As the Salesforce ecosystem grows, there will be more and more apps that can be integrated with the cloud ERP software.

The Next Trend - Announcing Tighter Relationships between Best of Breed Salesforce-Based Application Providers

Just because applications are on the Salesforce AppExchange does not make them equal. This is very evident in the listings for ERP. Many Cloud ERP packages have fallen short, because in the rush to get to the Cloud, they are either severely limited in functionality or they are only replications of a predecessor legacy ERP package supporting one business type. They do not acknowledge that manufacturers of today require a greater variety of manufacturing methods and services to be supported. Also, for those that offer the ‘hosted’ model, they are rapidly being perceived by a now more informed buyer as a Cloud mutant who have learned that the collaboration required amongst a variety of Cloud software packages just can’t be achieved in their private ‘hosted’ Cloud (i.e. the success of Salesforce).

Because of this and because they want their customers to be successful, many of the leading Salesforce ecosystem providers are now announcing closer relationships with other leading application suppliers who meet their higher standards. Such relationships will be highlighted in integral sections on their websites and in presentations to their prospects.