The Salesforce AppExchange is a very important resource for enhancing and customizing the functionality and usability of your SFDC platform. This includes things like simplifying the process of signing documents, streamlining permission management, improving the health of your data, and many other processes. In this article, we will learn more about the AppExchange and the benefits both independent software vendors (ISV) and their customers can gain from the marketplace. However, before we get into all of that, let’s first take a look at the history behind the AppExchange since its origins are very interesting.
Launching the First “App Store”
Salesforce has tagged individuals who continue to innovate with Salesforce and use the platform to transform their company as Trailblazers, but Salesforce itself was a true Trailblazer when it launched as an enterprise cloud service in 1999. In 2006, they continued to innovate by becoming the first SaaS company to distribute related services in an online store, which is what we call the AppExchange today.
In his book, Trailblazer, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff tells the story of how he and two other Salesforce co-founders, Parker Harris and Dave Moellenhoff, took a trip to Apple headquarters to meet Steve Jobs in 2003. At that meeting, Steve Jobs told the trio that if they wanted to take Salesforce to the next level, they needed to create a cloud software ecosystem. While this seems like common sense for any SaaS company today, it was a completely novel concept to Benioff and the other co-founders. In the book, Benioff says that the creation of an app store came to him as an epiphany, which he wrote down on a napkin while sitting in a restaurant:
“One evening over dinner in San Francisco, I was struck by an irresistibly simple idea. What if any developer from anywhere in the world could create their own applications for the Salesforce platform? And what if we offered to store these apps in an online directory that allowed any Salesforce user to download them?”
Benioff would go on to register the domain AppStore.com and call the online store the “App Store.” However, after Apple launched the iPhone, Benioff decided to gift the name “App Store” to Apple as a token of gratitude to Steve Jobs and changed the name of his store to AppExchange.
Now that we know some of the interesting background behind the AppExchange, we can take a look at how big it has become and the various types of products that are available.
How Many Apps are on the AppExchange Marketplace?
According to Salesforce, the AppExchange’s ecosystem consists of over 5,000 ready-to-install solutions, 80,000 peer reviews, and 6 million customer installs. Even though the store is called the “AppExchange”, it contains a lot more than just apps. In fact, we can divide all of the apps and services on the AppExchange into four basic categories:
- Solutions by Types: Apps, Bolt(-on) Solutions, Flow Solutions, Lightning Data, and Components
- Product Collections: Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Commerce Cloud, Platform, Einstein Analytics, Financial Services Cloud, etc.
- Industry Collections: Communications, transportation, telecommunications, etc.
- Top Categories: Human resources, finances, ERP, sales, data cleansing, etc.
Since some Salesforce users may not be familiar with certain solution types, here is a breakdown with definitions:
- Bolt Solutions – These are industry solutions for Salesforce Communities. Bolt solutions can be viewed as pre-built templates that can be deployed on Salesforce quickly. They will usually include a set of necessary components such as Lightning apps, business process flows and many others.
- Flow Solutions – Flow Solutions are partner built integrations that simplify the processes of creating workflows and performing actions on third-party systems. By using Flow Solutions, you can automate your business processes without having to create code or new integrations from scratch.
- Lightning Data – Lightning Data is a native way to integrate third-party datasets into your Salesforce CRM. This allows for safe and reliable integrations without the need for complex code integration or API calls.
- Components – Components are small, reusable pieces of functionality that are used for creating apps, Bolt solutions, and custom web pages in Lightning. You can also add functionality to your apps without the need for complex coding. You can find some components in the AppExchange that were created by Salesforce developers, known as Salesforce Labs.
The one solution type we did not talk about is apps, but this is because there are so many of them, all claiming to do the same things. This is why we would like to tell you about the top apps by category that will provide you with the most value.
Top Apps on the AppExchange with the Most Value
As soon as you visit the AppExchange, you are presented with a wide array of sponsored solutions, trending apps, and even some products that Salesforce recommends for you. In order to help you better navigate the Salesforce marketplace, we provided you with the top apps by category that will give you the most value:
Accounting Seed is a fully native Salesforce app that combines Accounting and ERP for a complete business solution.
BiznusSoft HR is a complete HR suite built on the Salesforce platform to address the needs of businesses of all sizes.
DataGroomr is the only data cleansing app that uses machine learning to dedupe your Salesforce environment.
Backup and Recovery
OwnBackup provides Salesforce administrators and developers to backup, compare, recover, archive, and manage large, complex SaaS-based data sets.
E-signature and Contract Management
DocuSign is the number one app for electronic signatures and contract management and works with Salesforce workflows to allow faster sealing the deal and agreements.
Conga Composer creates digital documents using pre-built or customized templates automatically populated with data from Salesforce for personalized documents.
InsideView is a great tool for discovering new markets, targeting and engaging the right buyers, and executing new winning go-to-market strategies.
Campaign Monitor for Salesforce received great reviews from users due to its easy setup and comprehensive set of features.
While all of these apps and services offer a tremendous amount of value to the businesses that use them, what about the value to the independent software vendors that create them? As we will see in the next section, the Salesforce AppExchange provides them with a lot of value as well.
Business Opportunities for AppExchange Partners
Over the past decade, the landscape for SaaS businesses has changed. Building and hosting applications no longer require massive amounts of resources; and entrepreneurs can bring their ideas to life thanks to availability and access to infrastructure, funding, and human resources. This has led to significant growth in the number of apps available, which in turn produced hundreds of alternatives that customers can turn to. AppExchange Partners have a simple way of promoting, selling, and collecting revenue from their work product. The result is a self-sustaining ecosystem that benefits all the stakeholders.
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