Monday, January 26, 2015

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5: A Windows User’s Experience

We bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 on the weekend and after 48 hours of setting it up and watching YouTube tutorials, I thought I would pass on my thoughts.

It is no secret that my house is a Windows house. My wife and I both have Nokia Lumia phones (she has the one with the big camera, mine has the smaller camera but same grunt under the hood), she runs a Windows 7 laptop and Surface 2 and I use my trusty Surface Pro 1 (nearly two years old) both at home and at work (I am using it now). My son has an old hand-me-down Windows laptop (which was my machine before the Surface and really needs replacing) but he and my daughter generally spend more time on the Surfaces because of the tablet form factor, fun apps and overall performance.

There are some iPods gathering dust somewhere but these are tools of the past. If we want music, my wife reaches for Spotify and I reach for Pandora. There are no other Apple products in the house.

The Itch That Needed To Be Scratched

The household had a problem though. Obviously there was the fact that the vast majority of companies jumping on the app bandwagon release for Apple and Android, and thumb their nose up at Windows Phone/Windows 8 but this was not it. To be honest, there was no killer app which meant we had to get a non-Windows device; the everyday apps I used a year ago are the same ones I use today and all are available for Windows. Nothing else stood out to make any other grass look greener.

The actual problem was my wife’s profession and expertise. As a senior marketer and known entity in Australian marketing circles (or so she tells me) she is sometimes asked to be a judge for marketing awards. Part of that is to judge the materials they create, which includes apps. As to be expected in today’s marketplace, these apps were only available on iOS and Android. Generally, she begged or borrowed an iPad from somewhere and used that, but it was an annoyance.

Also, my son’s school had its own school app and recommended educational apps but, again, these were Windows-unfriendly and, combined, this tipped us over the edge.

Why the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5?

We both researched the best 10 inch tablets in the market and, consistently, Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 won out against its rivals, including Apple. I do not have the links now but review after review put it either in the top spot or, at least, in the top three. It is a good, all-round tablet. Research aside, I was quite happy we were going Android over Apple. Being able to tinker in the back-end appealed to my Windows pedigree. I am sufficiently old to remember working on DOS 6 ini files and Slackware Linux config files so the idea of being cut off from the back end completely was disquieting. Android still gave me the power to poke around if I so desired.

The Hardware

So on to the review. Obviously comparing the Galaxy to a Surface Pro is problematic. The Surface Pro runs a full version of Windows and converts into a laptop form factor easily. The Galaxy is a tablet and, while it has plenty of power for the apps it runs, without a keyboard, it will always come second in terms of productivity (yes, bluetooth keyboards are available but, as I will explain later, even this is not enough to bring it on par with a laptop running Windows Office in terms of productivity).

Similarly, comparing the Galaxy to my Lumia is also problematic. There is only so much that can be done on the little screen of a Lumia 925 which is, of course, why even Apple have relented and made a phone screen which is larger than the reach of a thumb.

Really the best I can do is point out the stuff which sticks out to me and hope it will be a guide to others.

Firstly, the screen of the Galaxy is incredible. The Super AMOLED display leaves the Surface Pro LCD screen for dust. The reason for this is backlighting; the Surface Pro needs it and the Galaxy does not. For the most part you will not notice this, except with blacks. I have done my best to capture this below, using my lock screen pic; the Cassini eclipse shot. Both machines are tilted at about the same angle and there is no light source behind me for reflection. I tried to adjust the brightness so it was about the same on both machines. The top one is my Surface Pro and the bottom one, the Galaxy. If you look at the left of the image, it is clear the colour saturation is a little higher on the Galaxy (the ring is a little more blue and the planet a little more yellow) and the black is blacker on the bottom machine.

image 

I did not compare it to my Lumia, mainly because it is difficult to adjust the brightness on the Lumia and also because the main place this will affect you is when watching movies which, for me, is more of a tablet thing than a phone thing.

In terms of comparing the power of the two machines, I noticed no drag on either of them when running comparable apps. I am sure if I fired up a high-end game we would put them through their paces but, if you are a gamer, neither of these machines are for you.

Both machines allow for the storage space to be extended through a micro SD card and while the Surface has a ‘proper’ USB port to plug in things like external hard drives, the Galaxy has a micro USB which can also be used for charging (I am charging the Galaxy off of my micro USB Lumia cable, connected to my Surface power pack, as we speak).

Certainly the Galaxy is thinner and lighter but weight has never been an issue for me. I never carry my Surface without the mini-shoulder bag of cables, USB sticks and notepad and it has the stand if my arms get tired of holding it.

In terms of on-board storage, I opted for the 16Gb Galaxy model. I also bought a SanDisk 32Gb micro SD card for $50. If I had bought the 32Gb Galaxy model, it would have cost me $100 more and, instead of 48Gb total storage, I would have 32Gb.

I am sure the battery life of the Galaxy is longer, but the four hours (or whatever it is these days) of the Surface Pro 1 is sufficient for my purposes. I only really use battery on commute and flights and it always gets me through without hassle.

A nice touch (no pun intended) with the Galaxy is the fingerprint reader. I have activated this for my login and, so far, it was worked well.

Finally, the Galaxy has an infrared port, which the Surface Pro does not. I am yet to find a TV remote app which works with my Panasonic Viera but I will keep looking. All tips appreciated.

Apps

OK, let us deal with the elephant in the room from the outset. Android has many, many more apps than Windows. However, there is a difference between quantity and quality. For my Surface, I need:

  • An internet browser
  • Outlook
  • Office apps

90% (if not more) of my computer time is spent in one of these. Everything else is details. In the browser department, the Galaxy is fine. It comes with Chrome and, so far, this has done the job. There is no Outlook and, let me be very clear on this, when I say Outlook, I do not mean an email app. I use Outlook for:

  • Email (work and personal)
  • Calendar (work and personal)
  • Task management (work and personal)
  • RSS feeds
  • Twitter feeds (via Twinbox)
  • automated routing of emails to folders, based on priority e.g. Pizza hut offers go into a different folder to emails from the head of the MVP program

To meet this level of functionality in Android requires roughly half a dozen apps with limited cross-communication. Outlook kicks arse, plain and simple and it remains my benchmark for OSes. The most relaxed CRM MVP in the world, Joel Lindstrom, recommended I look at Accompli Email but even this only covers about half to two thirds of what I need.

The Galaxy comes with an Office app equivalent called Hancom Office. While I can open my Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents and edit the text, even simple things like adding a row to a column are troublesome. This is also a black mark in making the Galaxy a Surface killer (which I do not believe it aims to be).

To work out what apps to get for the Galaxy, I read through half a dozen ‘xxx apps for Android’ blog post/articles and downloaded the ones which sounded interesting. There is no doubt that while it is more productive working on a Surface Pro, you can have a lot more free fun on an Android. FX Guru, My Bar Free and What’s For Dinner, I will get good mileage out of and the kids already love Angry Birds Stella, Inventions, and Sprinkle Islands.

Two apps which did not make it onto the article lists which should have been there are OneNote (an Evernote equivalent) and OneDrive (like DropBox, only by Microsoft). Both of these are very solid in what they do and were conspicuous in their absence from the lists.

OS Navigation

I watched a couple of tutorials on navigating the Galaxy and I was away. It is clear Windows has been ‘inspired’ by some of the features on the Galaxy, especially in Windows Phone. Both feature a swipe-down menu with quick buttons and an activity log, and both feature a ‘Kid’s Corner’. The Surface Pro does not have the swipe down menu, which is a pity because navigating the right-hand control is not always simple (try turning on airplane mode, for example, which is Left-Swipe, Settings, Change PC Settings, Network, Airplane Mode or Left-Swipe, Settings, Wifi Icon if you have been burnt before and committed it to memory). On the Galaxy, all those common toggles are a swipe down away (as it is on a Windows Phone).

User management and, by extension the kid’s corner is something I think is handled better by Windows. The Windows Phone has no concept of multiple users but getting to the Kid’s Corner is a left swipe away.

There is no Kid’s Corner equivalent in the Surface but you have full user control so, in the past, I simply set up two more user accounts for my children, limited their rights and turned on the Windows monitoring (built into the OS) so I get weekly reports of what they have been up to. This covers their activity on my son’s old laptop, as well as the Surface devices.

For the Galaxy, there are two kinds of users: One Owner and many Users. The Owner is, in effect, the administrator. In my case, not fully appreciating the consequence, I set up the Owner account as my wife and then set myself up as a User. The kids will use the Kid’s Corner equivalent and, therefore, do not need accounts. It is not possible to give a User administration rights so I cannot, for example, add users, activate or administer the Galaxy equivalent of Kid’s Corner. Either I log into my wife’s account or she handles all that. Neither option is ideal. I am the tech geek in the family, after all.

App icon management is in a league of its own in the Windows Phone but in comparing the Surface Pro and Galaxy, it is half a dozen of one and six of the other. Moving the icons around is a lot more intuitive, for me, in Windows. You press and hold and then drag. If you do this in the Galaxy, it acts like it is going to move but never sticks. In the Galaxy case, you first must click the edit button.

The multiple home pages is nice in the Galaxy and is more manageable than the long scrolling Windows Phone option. Similarly, while you can group the icons in the Surface, multiple desktops in Windows would be great. I remember it from the old Linux days and it is very useful.

The ‘recent apps’ equivalents in Windows Phone and the Surface seem to be a lot more robust than the Recent Apps button in the Surface. On a few occasions, I opened up an app and then went to the recent apps button and it was not there. I do not recall this ever happening with Windows.

Conclusions

If, like me, you are looking for a tablet which can run specific apps unavailable in the Windows ecosystem, you will be very happy with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5. While there are areas of strength and weakness, in comparison to the Windows Phone and Surface Pro, it is a solid machine for recreational use. Even with a keyboard, the functionality does not come close to Office but as a media player and device to keep the kids entertained (and off my Surface), it is solid value.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

An Improved Codeless Address Finder

Back in 2011, I showed how, by using filtered lookups, it was possible to make an address finder. While instructive in showing how filtered lookups worked, one shortcoming in the approach was that the address fields had to be replaced with lookups. For the Contact record this is problematic because the address fields synchronize with the Outlook Contact address fields. This means that if the user tracked a Contact from Outlook, in effect, the address would not come across.

I thought I would revisit the design, using the improved workflow functionality to see if we can do better in CRM 2013/2015, inspired by something I saw in a client’s system.

The Inspiration

For the last couple of weeks I have been conducting workshops with a client for implementing a new Dynamics CRM implementation. While they have an existing ‘proof of concept’ system built in CRM 2011, it had been added to incrementally and, so, they wanted to re-build from a blank slate. In looking at screenshots of their old system I noticed a ‘Location Lookup’. Basically you lookup a location and it populates the address fields for you.

image

I did not look into the back end of how it worked but my guess is some OnChange jscript does the heavy lifting. What is nice about this design is it gets around the issue with the Outlook client; if the user tracks a Contact, the address fields still populate. It is only the location lookup which is left blank, but this is ok.

Replicating in CRM 2015: Reference Data

The first thing I needed was a list of the cities, post codes and states for Australia. Fortunately I still had the old CSV files from my first blog, which was lucky because Australia Post charge to get them these days (they used to be free). If you are interested in Australia city data, a quick search yielded this, which also has longitude and latitude coordinates and appears to be free to use.

I combined the information into one CSV (we are only doing one import this time).

image 

Next, I needed an entity to hold the reference data. I created one with the default name field and a text field for each of the above called Reference City.

image

The Name field I populated with a background workflow which ran during the import.

image

Then I ran the import to create my reference data.

Replicating in CRM 2015: Setting up the Location Field

The Location field is actually pretty easy to set up. Firstly, you add a lookup, on the Account form pointing to your Reference City entity. Then, you add the real time workflow which does the work.

image

The field change is set to trigger off of the Location lookup field we added. You also need to run it off of the Record Created event otherwise it does not trigger for the creation of new records.

The Result

The end result is reasonably close to the original. The only difference is it shows on the form OnSave, not OnChange, so the address fields remain blank until you save or until the AutoSave kicks in. I tried ‘fixing’ this by adding a Business Rule to the form but it did not work. Something to watch out for but nothing that could not be handled as part of training. The first screenshot is actually my version of the Location Lookup and here it is again.

image 

Conclusions

I really like this approach. It is codeless and completely extendable. If you had street data, you could extend the solution to accommodate this without too much difficulty (although be careful of the size if you are using CRM Online). It also keeps the original address fields, which gets around Outlook sync issues, Word template issues and Bing Map integration issues. If you are a consultant, this is simple to put together, offers a lot of value to clients and does not rely on expensive, third party address software.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Adding InsideView To Your CRM Instance

May the seasonal greetings you feel most comfortable with be upon you. My last post for 2014 before getting into the New Year’s Eve celebrations.

If you are outside the USA you may have heard about something called InsideView, and that it is free for Dynamics CRM, but not had much experience with it. The reason for this is it is not added, by default, to CRM Online, except for CRM Online instances on the US servers.

This is how you can add it to your CRM 2013/2015 instance. Admittedly I have not tried this for on-premise but it should work there as well.

Get an Instance of CRM

Firstly, you will need an existing CRM instance. If you are looking for a trial, here is the link. At the time of writing, the page steers you towards getting an agent to walk you through the hearty goodness of CRM. If you are more interested in spinning up a trial than speaking to people, scroll down a bit and look for the blue arrow.

image

After a few clicks, you will have a trial instance and are ready to go. To make sure it was not being added, I went to an account record in my new trial and, sure enough, no InsideView pane.

Interestingly, a demo I set up a few weeks ago (for the calculated fields review and through a pre-configured partner link) did have an InsideView section but nothing inside but a link on how to set it up.

This is the magic link you will need to get InsideView in CRM.

Get the InsideView Solution File

Going to the link, gives you the solution file.There are a few terms and conditions you must give the nod to before acquiring it but, assuming they are good, you are in.

image

You should obtain a file called “Insights_3_4_online_managed”

Install the InsideView Solution File

The file installs like any other Solution file. It took a minute or two for mine to complete but it did so in the end.

image

The warning was about labels not working for languages not installed in the instance and was nothing to worry about.

Enable Syncing

Next we need to connect Insideview to CRM. To do this, go to the solution file in Settings-Solutions, double-clicking on the InsideView solution and going to the Configuration section.

image

Then click on the start button and grant and accept access to your CRM system.

Eventually you will see a success message.

image

Fixing the Form

The first thing you will notice is the default forms have been updated. Adjust, as required although do not delete the InsideView objects unless you are completely sure; they are quite tricky to add back.

There is a tab called insights but you will not see a lot in it. It is hidden by default and, even then it seems to only show ‘out of the box’ for old-style i.e. legacy 2011 forms, not the new style. This is a shame as it is nicely laid out and has a few useful functions.

image

I tried all sorts of parameters to get it working in the new forms and finally found success with this:

image

which rendered like this:

image

The main changes were the title of the tab (going from Insights to InsideView) and the parameter version changes i.e. dropping the form name. I assume it was one or both of these that finally cracked it.

I even managed to do a successful sync of information from InsideView to my Contact record.

image

Data Quality

While it is handy to have this tool outside of the USA, the quality of the data outside of the USA is not great. Doing a vanity search i.e. creating a Contact with my name, returned nothing useful.

image

So I tried our Prime Minister (the rough Aussie equivalent of the President), Tony Abbott. The first few hits were not great.

image

but eventually, towards the end of the eleven, we got close (zero points to the Reader’s Digest though, unless they know something I do not).

image

Conclusions

If you are InsideView-curious, this is all you need to start playing. Be warned though the data is not great for individuals outside of the USA and if InsideView are looking to piggyback on the international success of Dynamics CRM, they will need to address this.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Dynamics CRM 2015 Calculated Fields

Microsoft invited me to write a review of the calculated fields available for all the field types in CRM 2015. Here is a link to the stub (from which you can get to the full article).

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Screwy Surface Driver Behaviour

I am blogging this so it may help others and so I have a reference for the future.

I went to boot my aging Surface 1 Pro this morning and the type keyboard and wifi adaptor were non-functioning (no wifi and no keyboard, only trackpad and stylus).

I beat my head against this for a while and finally figured it out thanks, in part, to this article.

If you find yourself in the same situation, here is the trick to fixing the problem:

  • Go to File Explorer and Right Click on This PC and select Manage

image

Unlike in the diagram above, you will see yellow exclamation marks against the Surface Type Cover Filter Device and the Marvell AVASTAR 350N Wireless Network Controller.

  • Right click on the Type Cover and select Disable
  • Detach the Type Cover
  • Restart the machine
  • Once restarted, come back to the Device Manage and re-enable the Type Cover by right-clicking

The type cover should now be working and you will be able to type again (you can open up Word or Notepad to test)

  • Uninstall the Marvell AVASTAR (but do not tick the uninstall driver box)

image

  • Right click on the top of the device tree (where it says Uranus on mine) and select Scan for Hardware Changes

The network adaptor will reload and work again.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Fixing Lead Conversion in CRM 2013

The Problem

One of the more subtle changes with CRM 2013 was with Lead conversion. In the old days of 2011, you had a wealth of options when it came to changing your Lead into something else.

image

The resulting Opportunity can be for an existing Account/Contact or a new one. Alternatively (as is the case for one particular client of mine) you do not have to create an Opportunity at all, but simply create an Account or Contact.

In CRM 2013, things changed.

image

The dialog box is gone, presumably to make CRM more touch-friendly. Also the system now assumes you want to create an Opportunity. If you fill in the ‘Existing Contact’ or ‘Existing Account’, these will be used as the Customer the Opportunity belongs to (with Account taking precedence). However, if these are left blank, a new Account, Contact and Opportunity are created, just as if the three tick boxes had been selected in the CRM 2011 days. The option missing is the case when we do not wish to create an Opportunity; just an Account or Contact record.

The Solution

The most elegant solution is to replace the Qualify button with your own button and code behind it the behaviour you seek but, failing this, we can provide users an alternative which, as is often my way, codeless.

My approach is to add the Status Reason field to the form and add a Status Reason of ‘Convert to Account’ (or ‘Convert to Contact’, or both). The user then simply changes the Status Reason and a workflow takes care of the rest.

Using this approach you can build in practically any qualification behaviour you want. In the case of a Lead to Account conversion, you create the new Account, link it to the Lead and then change the Lead to Qualified. The workflow is relatively simple and easily adjustable down the track if the business processes change.

If you wish to hide the original Qualify button, consider a tool like the Ribbon Workbench. Also, you can combine the best of both worlds and put some code behind a cloned Qualify button which calls an Action. This combines the elegance of a button replacement with the flexibility of workflow configuration.

You can also use the Status Reason approach to circumvent the usual qualification process in CRM 2011. One client felt the CRM 2011 qualification pop-up was too confusing and easy for the user to do the wrong thing. By using the same approach, the user simply changes the Status Reason and the system handles the rest. In the case of an Opportunity for an existing Account or Contact, you may need a lookup to feed the information to the workflow when the status changes but that is about it.

Conclusions

With the changes between CRM 2011 and CRM 2013, it is possible your previous approach no longer works in the new version. By approaching the problem with the tools available, we can put together something that meets our business need without spending lots of money on consultants and developers. Enjoy ;)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Salesforce: The Bear Awakens

Before I look at the Salesforce numbers each quarter, I always fear it will be more of the same. Not the case this time around with more mixed signals than a Morse code operator with a hand tremor. We also have my predictions to weigh up so let us see how I fared.

The Numbers

I was asked last week if I make these numbers up. The answer is no. The majority come directly from Salesforce’s own website. The ‘earnings’ call transcripts I get from Seeking Alpha, Google statistics from Google Trends and the insider trade statistics from Yahoo (which get them from the SEC filings lodged by Salesforce). All I bring to the table is Excel’s graphing and trend analysis tools.

 

2014 Q3

2014 Q4

2015 Q1

2015 Q2

2015 Q3

Revenue

1,076,034

1,145,242

1,226,772

1,318,551

1,383,655

Subscription Revenue

1,004,476

1,075,001

1,147,306

1,232,587

1,288,513

Revenue Cost

268,187

273,530

292,305

307,831

333,211

Operating Cost

905,778

975,458

989,808

1,044,154

1,072,486

Salesforce Income

-124,434

-103,746

-96,911

-61,088

-38,924

Highest Transaction

     

2,037,819,946

2,502,030,346

Transaction Growth qoq

       

23%

Revenue Growth # yoy

287,636

310,561

334,139

361,457

307,621

Revenue Growth % yoy

36%

37%

37%

38%

29%

Revenue Growth % qoq

12%

6%

7%

7%

5%

Total Cost % yoy

39%

46%

37%

36%

20%

Staff

12,770

13,312

14,239

15,145

15,458

Staff Growth (yoy)

37%

36%

38%

20%

21%

Margin

-11.56%

-9.06%

-7.90%

-4.63%

-2.81%

Growth Difference

-3%

-9%

1%

2%

9%

Cash

651,750

781,635

827,891

774,725

846,325

Accounts Receivable

604,045

1,360,837

684,155

834,323

794,590

Cash/AR

108%

57%

121%

93%

107%

There is a new addition to the rows here with the ‘Highest Transaction’ row. This is taken from the trust.salesforce.com site and is the highest Transactions value shown for the date range at the time of writing. As discussed previously, the transaction count is my new basis for predicting an approximate user base for Salesforce. Quarter on quarter, transactions (and therefore subscribers) rose 23%. Nice work.

Staff growth is still low and is suggesting a new normal for Salesforce. The loss for the quarter was a mere $38 million which is the smallest it has been for about two years so also not a bad result.

Revenue and Cost Growth

The big change is in Cost Growth. At an annual growth rate of 20%, this has practically halved, compared to recent quarters, and is close to the growth rates from five years ago. Marc has put the brakes on sales and marketing spending. This, in turn, has put a dent in Revenue Growth but not to the same level. Revenue Growth was down to 29% meaning Salesforce has reversed the trend of costs outpacing sales and, if they keep it up, means they can sustainably return to profit. This is reflected in the Growth Difference where we now see three quarters of positive difference (revenues accelerating away from costs). Another great outcome.

Here it is graphically.

image

Both Revenue Growth and Cost Growth have dropped but Cost Growth more so. The moving averages are now at about the same point meaning, if things progress as they are, we are moving from costs spiralling out of control to sustainable profitability.

Subscribers

Using the formula derived previously, as mentioned, subscribers have grown 23% to around 17 million. In terms of how profitable they are, in line with the growth changes, we see a positive result.

image

The key line here is the bottom one. Income (profit/loss) is still negative (about -75c per user per month) but is trending in the right direction (it is about half of what is was last quarter) and could well be close to positive next quarter.

Cash and Accounts Receivable

image

The two remain entwined this quarter with Cash nudging slightly above Accounts Receivable. While this is good, it is too early to call this a win with the moving average remaining largely unaltered.

Earnings Call Buzzword Bingo

The rule is the words on the list have had ten or more mentions in the past five periods with the text used being the call transcript after the introduction and up to, but not including, questions.

 

2014 Q3

2014 Q4

2015 Q1

2015 Q2

2015 Q3

Number of words

3700

3700

2400

4731

3922

Customers/Customer

39

25

22

38

34

Revenue

37

29

19

27

26

Cloud

31

14

15

22

47

ExactTarget

21

15

7

8

1

Platform(s)

21

12

10

13

27

Service

19

13

13

15

12

Sales

16

4

6

6

7

Growth

14

12

9

18

16

Marketing

12

11

5

10

8

Cash

10

16

10

11

9

Mobile

7

5

2

8

8

Operating

7

10

11

11

8

Enterprise(s)

7

3

8

10

8

EPS

5

6

6

6

5

Salesforce1

0

11

6

7

7

Dreamforce

     

11

14

Analytics

       

14

This quarter we say goodbye to ‘Mobile’ and ‘EPS’ (Earnings Per Share). As to why Marc is no longer pushing his EPS statistics, I am not sure. The magical non-GAAP treatment is still turning a standard EPS loss into a non-standard EPS profit so why not? Could Marc be finally distancing himself from the black art of non-GAAP numbers?

Similarly, the push for mobile seems to have waned with “Cloud” and “Platform(s)” being the Salesforce catchcry of the quarter. In the case of both of these words, mentions literally doubled since the last call.

Salesforce, it seems, is no longer a social CRM and it is not a mobile app development tool; it is a cloud development platform.

The newcomer our list is ‘Analytics’. Now that Salesforce actually has some Business Intelligence tools in the form of the “Analytics Cloud”, it is doing its best to promote them.

The only word in danger of dropping off the Salesforce newspeak vocabulary list next quarter is “Sales”. The origins of Salesforce as a sales force automation tool are being lost as it diversifies to be more than just CRM.

Google Trends

Nothing too surprising here. Salesforce continues to focus on North America, with Dynamics CRM being more spread across North America, Europe and Australasia.

image

image

Insider and Institutional Sales

I tweeted earlier this week about a significant shift in insider sales. Here are the numbers from Yahoo.

 

2014 Q3

2014 Q4

2015 Q1

2015 Q2

2015 Q3

Insider Sales

0.50%

0.50%

0.50%

0.40%

4.70%

Institutional Sales

2.75%

2.72%

2.71%

2.67%

3.20%

Insider sales (sales of shares by the Salesforce executive) have jumped tenfold. I have often talked about the constant sales for shares by key figures such as the CFO but a tenfold increase in offloading in the previous six months of transactions is huge.

In fact, digging into the details, it is only one of the executive whose selling has caused this shift: Marc Benioff, CEO and Chairman. Marc used to sell a lot of shares, back in the old days, but had not sold too much for close to two years. Then, in June this year, something changed. Marc, between 9 June and 7 November offloaded something like 1.8 million shares (roughly worth $100m). Yahoo also tells us Marc has 39 million shares in Salesforce (about 6% of all the shares in the market according to the Salesforce financials) which means this little sell off was about 5% of his holdings.

I cannot guess why Marc has retained so little of his company or why he is striving to own less, when he speaks so positively about the future prospects of Salesforce and, in this quarter, the numbers show optimism.

Looking to the Future

Last quarter I predicted revenues of $1.4b (they were $1.38b) and a loss of $40m (it was 39m) so I am pretty happy with my work, especially with the predicted loss, which Salesforce predicted would be twice as high.

Next quarter I predict revenues of $1.46b-1.48b and a loss of around $20m (Salesforce predict $1.44b in Revenue and around $60m in loss)

Conclusions

Salesforce are fighting back to profitability and, if it was not for Marc offloading his ownership of the company, this would be a glowing report card for the company. Diversification of their product offering seems to be working and, if it is, it will become evident in the next couple of quarters.

Why Marc and other members of the executive continue to wax lyrical about the future of the company only to immediately sell their ownership of the company confuses me to no end. One possible reason is that they feel the price of the shares is too high and, even if Salesforce go from strength to strength, their money can be better invested/spent elsewhere. This is pure speculation, of course.

Profitability and sustainable growth has eluded Salesforce for years now. This quarter has been the first to give me hope that such goals are possible for them. The full year results and the next couple of quarters will confirm if my optimism is well founded.