Salesforce .com lifted the curtain on Salesforce Lightning today, the completely redesigned version of its core CRM product. As is often the case with Salesforce, the announcement included several pieces. At the same time, it announced the first in a series of industry-specific CRM packages.
The new version has been designed with a cleaner, more modern looking interface. It streamlines and updates many essential CRM tasks, making it faster and easier to visualize important data like how far you are from your monthly sales goals and your most important tasks to help you get there. The CRM tool is the first product built on the Lightning platform. Expect that over time the entire Salesforce product line will get a similar make-over.
Today’s package consists of three pieces with some clear branding goals: Lightning Experience, the new CRM tool; Lightning Design System with Lightning Components, which is the tool’s customization engine. Finally it includes Lightning App Builder, which builds upon the Salesforce 1 application development platform. It claims it’s an easier way to build applications on top of the Salesforce CRM tool.
Salesforce is the granddaddy of SaaS platforms, dating back to the late 90s. It’s no longer the plucky upstart. In fact it joined the Fortune 500 this year for the first time. It earned $1.63 billion in revenue in the most recent quarter and is projecting a total revenue for this fiscal year of over $6.6 billion.
Perhaps the company decided that, rather than resting on its laurels, it was time for a major makeover. Today’s announcement is all about making the tool more modern. The interface is cleaner and designed to work across all screen sizes from computer or laptop to tablet, phone or even the Apple Watch.
Salesforce listened to customer feedback before redesigning the product, and incorporated much of what it heard, Sean Alpert, senior director for Sales Cloud told TechCrunch.
What it heard was that busy sales people wanted access to essential data faster in a visual form that made it easier to see at a glance what is important. They also wanted an interface that was flexible and highly customizable.
The new version uses a navigation bar approach, abandoning the tabbed interface of the older model. It also has enhanced search to make it easier to move to functions by simply entering keywords a la Spotlight Search on the Mac.
The visualizations throughout lean heavily on Salesforce Wave, the data visualization platform it introduced last year, and the design component enables customers to customize the interface for their organization’s terminology and what each one considers most important.
The company stresses that this is more than simply rebranding. “We think of this as a huge leap forward. It’s not just about repackaging and making new colors and buttons. We are rolling out 25 new features and functions to be more productive and go faster,” Alpert said.
Salesforce is allowing customers to choose when and how to roll out the new interface, rather than forcing them to upgrade all at once. Customers can roll out on a limited basis if they wish before implementing it across the entire sales team.
In addition, Salesforce introduced the first in a series of industry-specific CRM packages. The first one is called Salesforce Financial Services Cloud and it has been tuned specifically to the needs of a financial services sales team.
These various pieces will be rolled out throughout the fall with the CRM part available in preview today and general availability in October.