Salesforce is no longer about sales, in case you didn't notice . . .
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Rootstock is a recent addition to the Salesforce—Force.com—family. Leveraging the Force.com platform and funding from Cross Atlantic Capital Partners, Rootstock has availed themselves of an ecosystem of partners to create a manufacturing solution for multiple markets.
What can a manufacturing solution do to support many markets and industry verticals? Today’s more flexible architecture affords users data model flexibility. This is a key element to more advanced planning and scheduling systems. For example:
Multiple units of measure—products vary greatly and they come in all sizes. But more challenging, they get packed and moved in all sorts of conveyances, totes, cartons, pallets and trailers, according to their size and characteristics. Each of the conveyances also has dimensions. All these need to be taken into consideration when planning, as it is not just about manufacturing planning, but the correct packaging and transportation.
Manufacturing modes—process, discrete, engineered or build-to-order.
Material—bill of material or recipes.
Ability to associate a specific item to others. For example, a labor or material cost to a specific customer or project.
Multi-dimensional/big-data management. For example, database fields can have attachments with cad drawing, documents, graphics, instructions and notes.
Many manufacturing planning systems have been out of reach financially for some businesses. Multi-tenant and in the cloud offers customers a more attractive cost model.
So What Does the Salesforce Family Offer?
As more of Salesforce’s partners adopt the Force platform and create solutions on that platform, many of those solutions become architecturally accessible by other solutions. So a sales order can be integrated from Salesforce to feed a manufacturing plan in Rootstock. FinancialForce (based on the UNIT4 Coda financial package) can be integrated for functions such as costing. This creates a set of components users can buy as they need.
Rootstock’s goal is to have a Force all-in integration approach; however, not all manufacturing-centric applications exist in Force.com. For example their PLM partner is Arena, which is not on Force.com.
Most of the newer application companies are leveraging Chatter for their social component. Salesforce has announced a box.com competitor that can also be integrated, which should help with document sharing, an important element in global manufacturing footprints. (There is a lot of collaboration in these networks.)
From a channel and sales perspective, the partner platform world has offered many emerging companies a leg up on technology toolset. Also, sales events like Dreamforce, a huge event attended by all size companies, offer great access to companies looking to purchase software.
Conclusion: What Do Users Want Most? Application or Platforms?
Many of the customers in this world are interested in a more component-oriented architecture, and have purchased the Salesforce customer-focused applications first. Later, they investigate the other components on the platform. This process has played out before with Oracle and Microsoft; now there are new players like NetSuite, Google and Apple in the platform business.
Salesforce continues to court companies like Rootstock to broaden their reach across the enterprise. The Dreamforce event is a lot like the MS Convergence conference with an array of partners who operate on the platform. Similar to Oracle Open World, it is platform first, then apps. This approach works very well for most of the world’s IT staff, since it reduces costly and clumsy integration problems.
In IT-led sales, platform rules. In user-led sales, apps win. So to capture all hearts and minds you have to be good at both. That said, there is plenty of business for young platform-centric players like Rootstock to get firmly established in the manufacturing market.
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