There were many encouraging signs of economic recovery at the CRM Evolution conference in New York this week. Attendance was up over last year and even close to the previous highs. Companies and their executives seemed upbeat and one or two announced new funding, a sure sign of resurgence.
The company with new funding that caught my interest is Xactly, the sales performance management company. In conversation with CEO and founder Chris Cabrerra I learned that they had successfully raised a new round of funding worth twelve million dollars including an undisclosed position taken by Salesforce.com. Such an investment is a vote of confidence in the company and its sector and I think it will mean a lot as the company rolls up to a future IPO.
Salesforce was not present for the event and I didn’t even see a company employee among the crowd. That was a mistake, frankly, I don’t know how you get to a leadership position and then fail to show up at a major conference, maybe they do.
At any rate, the other leading vendors were there and many others that are now emerging. Oracle, SAP, Microsoft and Sage all had representatives there though not all had booths. The CEOs or other ranking executives from these companies all attended and it made for interesting panel discussions.
Tuesday morning for example, Paul Greenberg hosted a panel with Anthony Lye from Oracle, Jujar Singh from SAP, Greg Gianforte from Right Now and Brad Wilson from Microsoft. I can’t say this panel was all that enlightening but it was certainly entertaining and you needed to be able to read between the lines to grasp the full effect. A case in point, vendors with extensive investments in on-premise technology and large installed bases were in favor of hybrind — premise and SaaS implementations. Not exactly news but progress from a few years ago when the thought SaaS was a fad.
Likewise, suite vendors thought the best approach to integration is buying an already integrated suite while point solution providers spoke more about the progress they’ve made on the integration front. All of this served as high entertainment though not exactly great information and I am not sure any minds were changed.
Nonetheless, it was good to see them sparring again and it would have been nice to have Salesforce there to lent more weight to the pure multi-tenant SaaS and cloud computing view.
Apropos of nothing, I was out to dinner with people from Oracle and a large contingent of analysts the other night. The restaurant was the Grill at Bryant Park. Next door in the park they were showing a movie under the stars which I had assumed would be some classic like “Roman Holiday” or “The Philadelphia Story”. I was right about the classic idea but the film turned out to be “Rosemary’s Baby” which made quite an impression when the primal scream happened in the middle of dessert. CRM Evolution was anything but a horror show and they even let me give the keynote for which I am grateful.