Most systems integrators or Salesforce partners like Traction probably look at the AppExchange turning ten as a significant milestone in the growth and prominence of the Salesforce ecosystem. Most likely they’re celebrating the sheer number of applications that have been developed and taken to market to enhance the capabilities of the platform. .
It’s not that we don’t think it’s a big deal (it certainly is), it’s just that the AppExchange is so engrained in the way we work and do business that it feels strange to think it’s only been around for 10 years. And as corny as this sounds, the AppExchange has become a way of life at Traction. We Google, we Chatter, we AppExchange. We kind of forgot what life was like about life without it.
It’s the same as the rest of our industry – the principles, like CRM, have been around forever; but the idea of the cloud and the sophistication of systems and services now available to businesses of all sizes and industries is still very new. For those of us in the industry, we sometimes forget that.
The AppExchange has changed the way businesses search and assess new applications, platforms and services. Just like how people rely on Google to immediately provide an answer to a question, the AppExchange provides an immediate solution to a business problem. It has never been so easy to source, review, purchase and install a transformational business system into an organization and it’s all because of the AppExchange. It certain has shaped the way we do business.
For example. A key principle that has always driven how we do business at Traction is the concept of Build vs. Buy. This idea comes into play whenever we recommend a solution to a customer. Never would we look to custom build a solution if there was one already on the AppExchange. Yes we’ll do our due diligence to assess the application before recommending it, but this approach typically costs us and our customers less in dollars and effort.
In the event that there isn’t a suitable application on the AppExchange (rarely) and we’ve had multiple customers ask a similar solution, this is when we’ll look to develop it ourselves.
This approach led us to develop a number of applications that we’ve been able to reuse and implement for several customers, two examples being Traction Hierarchies and Traction Complete. Once developed, the AppExchange gave us the opportunity to promote and sell those applications to the right audience (Salesforce users) without a significant marketing investment and with a ton of support from Salesforce. What was once a solution built for a single customer, is now easily accessible for any organization running Salesforce, with a similar pain point and with access to the AppExchange (you have the internet right?). This is not something that could have been done a mere 10 years ago. Pretty amazing.
The best part is how much Salesforce embraces organizations who build their own applications to sit on and enhance the power of their platform. They’re not restrictive on what is developed (apart from security and quality standards, which benefit all of us) and they know that the best applications come from the people who use their platform on a daily basis. In fact, Traction has just been named a silver AppExchange partner for our contributions made to the community of applications – thanks Salesforce!
The moral of the story: whether you’re a developer dreaming of the next big application, or a business looking to solve an organizational pain point, look to the AppExchange.
Let’s not celebrate the fact that the AppExchange is 10 years old. Let’s celebrate the fact that the AppExchange is only 10 years old. There is so much left to change.