What 5 Million AppExchange Installs Means to Salesforce Trailblazers

October 11, 2017 Leyla Seka

As the AppExchange hits a major milestone, Salesforce employees, customers and partners weigh in on why this trend is no fluke

Today, the AppExchange hit five million installs. Let me emphasize that: Salesforce customers have installed apps from the AppExchange five million times. This is a huge milestone. Having been a part of the AppExchange through the entire decade-long journey, I’ve seen it become the world’s largest and longest-running business app marketplace, making this an extremely exciting moment for me, the AppExchange team as a whole, and the Salesforce Ohana.

But it’s also much bigger than a number.

The success and scale of the AppExchange reinforces the power of apps and is a true testament to the power of ecosystems as a business differentiator. The trends we’ve witnessed over the past ten years have driven home points that we’ve always suspected: That customers thrive when provided with options, and that businesses work better when they work together. And above all, this milestone has shown us that the true strength of the Salesforce economy lies with empowering the players within it, which is why we are marking this milestone by celebrating the Trailblazers who made it possible.

Since 2006, our customers, partners, and employees have been our strength; they’re the true ecosystem experts. I talked to nine of these Trailblazers about how the ecosystem has impacted them over the course of five million installs — and what trends they expect to witness in the next million.

Ecosystems give customers a powerful ingredient for business success: Choice.

At it’s inception, the whole objective of the AppExchange was to create an environment where customers had a choice when making decisions about their business — after all, every business is unique and has unique needs. Having access to an ecosystem of ready-made solutions to address those needs greatly simplifies life:

“Whenever I get a request for new functionality or have a new challenge to solve, I head for the AppExchange. Solutions that may have taken months to create on our own are literally at our fingertips and configured in a matter of hours — sometimes even minutes.” — Leyna Hoffer, CRM Success Manager, Edmentum

Over time, those choices only continue to get more powerful, more specialized, more competitive — and for customers, that means more control. “The AppExchange has grown into a powerhouse,” Amber Boaz of Rapid7 tells us. “These days you have the champagne problem of having to try out several apps to see which best meets your needs.”

And if there are too many choices? Ecosystems offer a powerful tool in the form of customer reviews (over 70,000 on the AppExchange, to be exact).

“I feel like my voice has value. When I’m reviewing an app, I really feel like I’m a part of something really big; I’m affecting change.” — Maggie Jolitz, Director of Operations Services, NPI

That change translates directly into a stronger marketplace of partner solutions: “Salesforce users have helped to curate the AppExchange by using apps and reviewing them,” notes partner Blakely Graham, Co-Founder of Bracket Labs. “Any good marketplace needs that level of consumer feedback to help with trust and purchasing decisions.”

Ecosystems enable partners to focus on what they do best: Offering world-class solutions to customers.

In the process of creating an invaluable variety of options for end customers, ecosystems give rise to thriving businesses in their own right (and if you don’t believe me, take a look at how Veeva’s story turned out). That’s largely because the benefits of building a product in an existing ecosystem are significant — from faster build time to greater reach with customers to less friction in the sales cycle — giving the partners who do so more time to focus on differentiating themselves where it matters most:

“[Customers] can feel confident that native, managed applications are built on the trusted Salesforce infrastructure and meet Salesforce compliance standards. With these stakes firmly planted, application providers like CloudCraze can concentrate on building trailblazing solutions.” — Chris Dalton, CEO, CloudCraze

Ecosystems also offer a unique opportunity for partners to go to market together, resulting in sales cycles that are more personalized, efficient, and tailored to solving complex customer challenges. “The largest change we have seen over our last 10 years of working on the AppExchange is the number of partners working together throughout the ecosystem,” says Brian Walsh, CEO of CodeScience. “This is truly the embodiment of Salesforce Ohana: partners collaborating to solve customers’ needs.”

Choice and world-class solutions drive a better future.

By empowering businesses of every size and across every industry to build strong solutions, ecosystems become breeding grounds for innovation. This means they continue to grow and effortlessly adapt to emerging trends.

“The AppExchange has changed a lot since I joined,” says VP of Product Management Heather Conklin, a member of the AppExchange Ohana since 2013 and the leader of the teams that built the AppExchange storefront. “We’ve done so much to build out the product for our customers and partners — and have so much more on the horizon. We have Appy, awesome new partners, new types of inventory, and new experiences on the AppExchange all the time, which will only continue to drive this growth.”

Heather isn’t the only one on our internal team of Trailblazers who’s thinking big as we move toward the next million installs. After all, the future of AppExchange is about more than just apps, as explained by Leslie Tom, VP of Marketing and a leader on the AppExchange team since the initial launch in 2006:

“The AppExchange includes apps, components, consulting services, and more — and the ecosystem is growing faster than ever before. Looking toward the future, we will see a deeper expertise in industry solutions, business-changing bolts, and massive data opportunities that will create a fully integrated world for us at work and at home.” — Leslie Tom

My fellow AppExchange leader Kori O’Brien, SVP of Global ISVs, put it best: “AppExchange is the future of Salesforce. It translates across all boundaries and pioneers an approach to customer success the industry has never seen before.”

Thank you, Trailblazers. You have powered millions of successes, and I, for one, can’t wait for millions more.

What 5 Million AppExchange Installs Means to Salesforce Trailblazers was originally published in Inside the Salesforce Ecosystem on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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