Enterprise adolescent: Salesforce.com's struggles at 15

Clarity now, serenity later


It’s no way to celebrate a milestone birthday. Salesforce.com may claim to help 100,000 companies understand their businesses and make money, but in the week Salesforce turned 15, it emerged that the firm needs to get its own house in order.

Chief financial officer Graham Smith revealed in a correspondence with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that the enterprise software firm’s financials aren’t exactly clear.

In the document posted on 4 March on the SEC’s site, Smith responds to an SEC query regarding revenue growth in the company’s financial year ending 31 January 2013, and makes the following, eye-opening admission:

“...we currently do not have financial systems and controls in place to be able to accurately quantify the percentage of our total revenue derived from subscriptions to the Sales Cloud or any other core service offerings in any particular fiscal period.”

This was prompted by the SEC, which had asked Salesforce to quantify what it meant when it said it made the most of its money from Sales Cloud subscriptions.

The company is now implementing financial reporting systems “that will enable us to quantify our cloud-specific revenue” before the end of the company’s current 2015 fiscal year. “Once such information is available, we will provide appropriate disclosures of cloud-specific revenue and related trends on a going forward basis,” he adds, in the letter dated 27 September 2013.

Smith will not personally be involved in those systems or any subsequent financial work as he’s retiring this month, Salesforce said in late February.

"Clearly Salesforce is a phenomenal success and investors should remember that a quality business and quality financial reporting need not go hand in hand," active investor James Ryans writes here. "But an enterprise software company should be embarrassed if it is incapable of basic analysis of its own sales data."

The timing couldn't be worse as Salesforce customers look for support for their analytics ambitions – and find it has seemingly taken its eye off the ball when it comes to insight into its own operations and performance.

The revelation is particularly interesting in light of a one-to-one conversation between El Reg and Salesforce.com co-founder Parker Harris at the company’s Dreamforce conference in November last year, which suggested that Salesforce.com’s challenges don’t end with its own internal operations.

At the show it was mobility, not analytics, which dominated the agenda – with the reason being that the company used the gathering to showcase Salesforce1, a new platform release designed to connect companies and their customers through mobile devices.

But Harris also spoke frankly with El Reg about the analytics function gap in Salesforce.com’s products. Is it fair to say, we asked, that in the push for more mobility and a frenzy of acquisitions designed to bolster the company’s "social enterprise" and "marketing cloud" credentials, business intelligence and analytics tools have taken something of a back seat?

“I think that’s right. We could and should have solved more on analytics, but it’s hard to do it all,” he said. “But I absolutely agree that analytics has to be solved and we see that as the next big area for us.”

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Prisons transcribe private phone calls with inmates using speech-to-text AI

    Plus: A drug designed by machine learning algorithms to treat liver disease reaches human clinical trials and more

    In brief Prisons around the US are installing AI speech-to-text models to automatically transcribe conversations with inmates during their phone calls.

    A series of contracts and emails from eight different states revealed how Verus, an AI application developed by LEO Technologies and based on a speech-to-text system offered by Amazon, was used to eavesdrop on prisoners’ phone calls.

    In a sales pitch, LEO’s CEO James Sexton told officials working for a jail in Cook County, Illinois, that one of its customers in Calhoun County, Alabama, uses the software to protect prisons from getting sued, according to an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Continue reading
  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading
  • American diplomats' iPhones reportedly compromised by NSO Group intrusion software

    Reuters claims nine State Department employees outside the US had their devices hacked

    The Apple iPhones of at least nine US State Department officials were compromised by an unidentified entity using NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, according to a report published Friday by Reuters.

    NSO Group in an email to The Register said it has blocked an unnamed customers' access to its system upon receiving an inquiry about the incident but has yet to confirm whether its software was involved.

    "Once the inquiry was received, and before any investigation under our compliance policy, we have decided to immediately terminate relevant customers’ access to the system, due to the severity of the allegations," an NSO spokesperson told The Register in an email. "To this point, we haven’t received any information nor the phone numbers, nor any indication that NSO’s tools were used in this case."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021