In less than two weeks, 100,000+ Salesforce users, thought leaders and business pioneers will gather for the cloud expo of the year, Dreamforce 2015. Thousands of brands, ranging from the Fortune 500 to freshly baked start-ups, all of whom have built products on the platform, will fill downtown San Francisco for this annual event. Countless more will be tuning in virtually. Investors, news outlets, and analysts will all be watching closely.
There was a time when you could hold all the attendees in a single auditorium. That is no longer the case. Dreamforce is the mecca for all things Salesforce. Its size and pageantry is a testament to the explosive growth of both Salesforce and SaaS based business model. If you didn’t believe it before, the conference is indisputable evidence that we exist in a cloud-driven world.
As companies continue to accelerate deeper into the cloud revolution, attributes like speed, automation, and customer success are no longer advantages, but imperatives. Barriers of entry are low and innovation is high. One glance at the Dreamforce Expo Hall will remind anyone that no matter the industry or space, all businesses compete in highly impacted, highly competitive markets. So how is it companies can hope to stay ahead of the pack?
As Apttus accepts its third round of funding worth $108M, prepares to open an office in a fifth country and approaches yet another anniversary (just shy of a decade in existence), I can confidently say that success neither comes quickly or easily.
Here is what I believe to be the three key ingredients to growing a successful business:
First, you must have the courage to do things differently.
When we started Apttus, Software as a Service was as foreign a concept as Twitter was to the ‘90s. We made the bold decision to partner with a new and budding Salesforce who’s slogan was ‘No Software.’ Choosing to deliver our enterprise-class applications on the Salesforce1 Platform allowed us to focus on innovation and advanced functionality, capitalizing on the benefits of and demand for cloud computing more rapidly than if we had to own our own infrastructure. We passed that agility and adaptability on to our users who in turn could evolve their business processes as quickly as the world around them mandated. They were able to move away from on-premise solutions and manual steps to achieve maximum efficiency.
Second, you must have the constant standard of excellence.
We expect the most out of our products and expect the most of ourselves. We have a saying, Tier 1 Everything. We keep to it. We think the path to success is quite simple: if you are the best at everything that you do, than you will beat out your competition. We put in the utmost effort in every, single thing that we do.
Finally, you must heavily invest in your employees.
Any company’s greatest asset is its employees. We believe in putting in the time and effort to help shape employees in order to set them up for success. Every new hire, whether they are just out of school or a veteran of the industry, is put through a rigorous academy providing all of the knowledge and skills to become domain experts. We see the Academy as a terrific opportunity for people that are joining the company to get a better sense of the values Apttus believes in and how our solutions are helping people around the world improve their business. It’s one of the ways we’ve cultivated a fast paced, no constraints, get it done – type of culture. As we grow and bring new people on board, the challenge is to quickly infuse each one of them with the same passion, same mindset that has worked incredibly well so far.
By practicing these 3 critical components, we have been able to grow our workforce tremendously and have given ourselves an amazing opportunity to provide not only our customers a chance to enhance their businesses. Despite all of the changes, we still believe in the fundamental ingredients that helped make Apttus what it is today. We shall continue to have the courage to do things differently, hold ourselves to a high standard of excellence, and heavily invest into our employees.