What does San Francisco’s Dreamforce conference mean for small businesses?

This week, upwards of 170,000 people are descending on San Francisco for an event called Dreamforce. It’s the annual conference for Salesforce, a customer relationship management software (CRM) platform used by 3.7 million people at 150,000 companies worldwide. The event is so big, the Bay Area has to bring in a cruise ship to accommodate guests who can’t find hotel rooms!

So, what does an event for a company that serves large “enterprise” businesses have to do with small businesses?

Well, for starters this year’s Dreamforce conference coincides with a big milestone for technology adoption among small businesses. For a variety of reasons, small businesses have been woefully underserved by software providers and, consequently, have been slow to adopt software-as-a-service (SaaS). However, that’s changing — and fast. By the end of 2017, 94% of small businesses will be using cloud-based software to run their companies more efficiently and effectively.

Womply’s president, Cory Capoccia, recently captured the trend in a column he wrote for Forbes:

As people become more comfortable with tech in general, small business owners are warming up to SaaS at a breakneck speed as well. According to research from Techaisle, 94% of U.S. SMBs will be using SaaS by the end of this year. That’s up from 73% last year, 58% in 2014 and a mere 27% in 2011 — a steep adoption curve in a short period of time. Furthermore, Intuit found that 85% of SMBs plan to invest more in SaaS over the next five years, with more and more running their core CRMs in the cloud each year.

This matters because software can help level the playing field in the David-and-Goliath battle between small, local businesses and their big-box competitors. Larger enterprises definitely have a head start. Salesforce launched in 1999, and in the intervening years big companies have adopted CRM systems and other software to turn customer acquisition and retention into a science.

Think about it. Larger companies already have big advantages in their ability to undercut small businesses on price and dramatically outspend them in marketing dollars, to say nothing of their large, specialized staffs. Meanwhile, Main Street business owners have to wear many hats and struggle to manage their daily operations, let alone find time to geek out on technology.

To add insult to injury, the $40 billion enterprise CRM market builds software systems that are way too feature-rich to be useful to busy small business owners. In fact, these systems usually need dedicated teams of specialists — 20 years ago, the job title of “Salesforce Administrator” didn’t even exist.

Thankfully, the technology sector is starting to think about how to serve the specific needs of small businesses with CRM platforms built for busy business owners and operators. Whereas enterprise software needs to be complex and feature-rich, SaaS for small businesses needs to be simple and do a lot of things automatically. It needs to take work off your plate, not give you one more line on your to-do list.

Main Street is the final frontier for SaaS, but small business owners are ready for software to give them an edge in their daily struggle against larger competitors. At Womply, we’re all-in on helping entrepreneurs get an edge with simple, intuitive software that does work for you automatically.

We’ve actually built a CRM that automatically creates a database of any customer who transacts with your business — it’s called Womply Customer Directory. It works hand-in-glove with our newest solution, Womply Customer Engagement, which automatically sends email campaigns to get your customers to come back.

If you’re one of the 100,000 small businesses who use Womply every day, check out these tools today. Learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!

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