In social housing it might not be one of the first things you think about, but as CRM’s go, Salesforce is up there as authentic premier league. It’s been around since about 1999. I know of many software suppliers in the sector who use it for its traditional purposes, keeping track of clients, prospects and leads. In that capacity, for which it was originally developed, it shines. Several people have remarked over the years that it’s a wonder no-one has written a housing system within it.
In case you have not come across it before, it’s a SAAS cloud based solution with a (US) stock market value of over $50b. Spookily enough its NY Stock exchange symbol is ‘CRM’. How cute is that?
SalesForce had one of the first application stores, the AppExchange, for third-party apps that work with and integrate to the platform. Over 2,500 apps are currently available, from free to subscription based models. It’s kind of at a place where many might wish Microsoft Dynamics CRM may one day be.
|The SalesForce Economy|
True charities are recognised too, for reduced licensing on the platform. Salesforce.org (formerly known as the Salesforce Foundation), is the philanthropic arm of Salesforce.com. Salesforce.org donates 1% of the company's resources (defined as profit, equity, and employee time) to support organizations that are working to "make the world a better place”. Now that’s an outfit I would be happy having as a supplier personally.
I came across one of the apps, a few weeks ago, called In-Form, which had been developed by the charity Homeless Link. It supports care & support processes, some housing, tenancy, repair and housing functions and is increasingly in use in quite a few organisations across the UK.
It’s simple to use, not hard to configure, has integration possibilities and a lot of third party SalesForce apps can supply a lot of the communication and self-serve functions, that a lot of the usual suspects in our sector, seem to struggle with.
We have very few true ‘developed for the web’ SAAS solutions out there currently. Too many to use, are a bit too much live our back office based systems too. Vast screens full of complex fields, difficult to understand and train people to use, on the whole. It’s rarely like the ‘friction-free’ environments we find on Amazon or when we buy travel tickets or hotel accommodation.
SalesForce is not perfect, although can take us further to that place, without the constraints of getting connected via Citrix or remote access and provide an efficient environment to work in. It will be interesting to see if any more switched on software suppliers will consider SalesForce for more social housing related applications in the future.
It offers a different way to develop, in a proven environment with rich proven add-ins, and can be quite profitable too, as Homeless Link have discovered. Every sale, contributes to their work with Homelessness, in the communities in which they work.
Now that’s what I call, a virtuous circle.
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Linton Kwesi Johnson / LKJ – Forces of Victory.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009
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