by Narinder Singh
Today is an exciting day for us. We’re announcing our Professional Services Enterprise (PS Enterprise) product and introducing our PS Cloud blog. PS Enterprise is an on-demand professional service automation (PSA) solution, built entirely on Salesforce’s force.com platform. Unlike competitive solutions that originated in the SMB space, our solution is designed from the ground up to meet the needs of enterprise-class service organizations, delivering end-to-end support for managing people, projects, customers and transactions. PS Enterprise is different from other solutions because it supports a services business end-to-end, bridging the gap between how projects are sold and how they are delivered.
PSA is a market that has held out promise for quite a while but true success stories are few and far between. Even “successful” companies like QuickArrow and OpenAir have less than 100,000 users after many years of toiling in the market. So the question is why are we so excited about it? We are excited about this market for two reasons.
1) Services firms have been under-served by traditional solutions
In our view, though services are a large and growing part of the global economy, they have not been well supported by enterprise technology. Traditional business applications are centered on inventory and transactions, not the people and projects at the heart of services firm. And silo’d PSA applications have been a failure– NetSuite has acquired two in the last year that after ten years of existence had only a small fraction of the users of other SaaS apps and focused mostly on the SMB. Most firms, especially larger services firms, are still using legacy and custom-built solutions, with lots of painful spreadsheet workarounds. There’s got to be a better way.
Industry analysts are predicting rapid growth for a category of solutions they’re calling “Service Resource Planning.” The idea is to do for the services industry what ERP did for manufacturing. But unlike ERP, everyone agrees that SRP will be built and delivered on modern, cloud-based infrastructure. Services firms are already aggressively adopting cloud-based solutions for CRM – over 6000 professional services companies use Salesforce CRM today. But what about the core operations of their business? Appirio PS Enterprise is built 100% on Force.com, and is tightly integrated with Salesforce’s CRM. Combine PS Enterprise with Salesforce’s Sales Cloud and the Service Cloud, and you get what Salesforce and Appirio are calling the “Professional Services Cloud.” It’s the perfect platform for Services Resource Planning.
2) Services firms are likely to be among the first to cloudsource their IT infrastructures
We started our company in 2006 with the mission of accelerating enterprise cloud adoption. Our vision is to provide cloud solutions that will enable companies to move large parts, or even all, of their IT infrastructure to the cloud.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen SaaS applications like Salesforce CRM gain broad acceptance within the enterprise. Companies are now looking to SaaS applications as they modernize their portfolio of packaged applications. We’ve also been excited to see growing interest in moving custom applications to cloud platforms like Salesforce’s Force.com and Google’s App Engine. Over the next 1-3 years, we expect the majority of new packaged application purchases and custom application development to move to the cloud.
Further out, we see companies moving the majority of their application and infrastructure portfolios to the cloud. We call this cloudsourcing, which is the intersection of the two predominant trends in enterprise computing today – cloud computing and outsourcing. As a practitioner of cloudsourcing today, we experience the benefits on a daily basis in the form of significantly lower costs (our IT costs are 1/3 of industry benchmarks), superior agility (adding products or practice areas is an almost instant exercise), and innovation (we get new and exciting capabilities without painful upgrades).
We built our cloud solution portfolio with an eye toward accelerating the movement to cloudsourcing. With the introduction of PS Enterprise, we think that services firms with between 500 – 3000 employees are ready for cloudsourcing. They are typically forward-thinking businesses without the operational complexity of industries like manufacturing or the regulatory requirements of industries like healthcare. Over 6000 services firms have already moved their sales and marketing processes to the cloud with Salesforce. Many of these firms are also early adopters of cloud-based finance, HR and collaboration solutions. The big missing piece to-date has been an enterprise-class platform to help these business manage their people and projects. This is where PS Enterprise comes in.
What this means for customers
With a combination of Salesforce CRM, Appirio PS Enterprise and Google Apps, a services firm has the foundation for a server-less, highly scalable, cost-effective and agile IT infrastructure. In the coming weeks, we’ll also disclose partnerships that help with their HR and financial systems needs. With this, we believe services firms can experience what we experience every day in our own business; dramatically lower cost, instant visibility, and the ability to adapt and overcome any market condition.