Introducing InVisory: “Gartner Style” Advisory for the AppExchange

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There are 4,000+ apps listed on the Salesforce AppExchange, and more affiliated with the ecosystem. With multiple vendors in each of the countless app categories, how does an organization go about selecting the correct fit for their requirements? And what if the business leader settles on an app that doesn’t meet the needs of the development team, or the security and compliance department?

Safe to say, there are seemingly limitless considerations during the app evaluation process, with Salesforce customers desiring enhancements to their platform to drive greater business value. The Salesforce partner network is bustling with consultancies that analyze business processes, configure and customize the Salesforce platform, and plan development roadmaps. Where an organization wants more than Salesforce can offer, they turn to third-party apps to extend their org. Surely then, advisory research dedicated to third-party apps is just as necessary?

Introducing InVisory

InVisory are the first “on the scene” to plug this gap. As a tech-enabled research and advisory company, in simple terms, they leverage their career experiences, conduct app market research, and pass that advice on to their clients.

Take InVisory’s Founder, Patrick Cronan. His career experience, when combined, meets as a perfect “Venn-like” diagram that brought him to realize this gap in the Salesforce consulting market. He began his career at Thomson Reuters, and after a decade, went on to work at Gartner to lead one of the tech advisory practices. Patrick then moved over to Salesforce, where he led one of the large strategic banking partnerships. Impressive – we agree!

The stakes are high when leading one of Salesforce’s most prized customers. Whenever the organization went out to evaluate apps, and then to tender, the process was somewhat anxiety-inducing for everyone involved across all three parties. Seeing this problem firsthand spurred Patrick on to make the engagement between enterprise organizations and the Salesforce AppExchange smoother, and with less risk.

Salesforce customers seek recommendations from their Salesforce point of contacts for how their organization can increase lead conversion rates, shorten sales cycles, or improve customer success beyond the core Salesforce platform functionality.

Patrick noticed that, firstly, there are numerous solutions within each category on the AppExchange that could support the customers’ requests. Secondly, Patrick found that there was no way to quickly determine the most suitable apps by use case, or solution category. Finally, large research and advisory firms are not providing robust coverage of some great apps from the Salesforce ecosystem, nor are the research firms tailoring their research for Salesforce customers.

What Does InVisory Do?

InVisory offers an expert service suited to enterprise organizations, as well as providing a “Gartner Style” advisory for the AppExchange.

The InVisory team brings their impactful research to each engagement; after discovering their client’s business and technical requirements, they will produce documentation that is bespoke to the organization.

The overarching aim is to arm organizations with the information to select the best apps for their use cases. There are four challenges that InVisory set out to overcome:

1. Go Beyond Jargon

There’s no doubt that this service carries gravitas – but what occurred to us when we first heard about the idea, is that one of InVisory’s primary purposes is “jargon-busting”. Go to the Salesforce AppExchange and you will be confronted with terms such as “feedback management”, “customer experience”, and “project management”. While these are official app categories, their definitions are subject to interpretation; there are plenty of nuances and feature overlaps between them.

In my experience, as a Salesforce consultant, cutting through the jargon is the first hurdle; pointing clients in the right direction can be a challenge when jargon blurs the lines between what’s suitable (and what’s not).

2. Go Beyond Public Reviews

One natural first step to deciphering these listings would be to consider the reviews fellow end-users have left. What if all of the vendors have received equally positive reviews across the Salesforce AppExchange, G2 Crowd, Gartner, and other review aggregator sites?

If your team were to evaluate all of the reviews, there’s little chance you will garner the level of insight you need. There’s certainly no “pay to place” involved with InVisory’s research.

3. Find “Rising Stars”

With countless third-party applications for Salesforce being brought to the market every month (both on and off the AppExchange), new and upcoming apps and vendors (“rising stars”) within the Salesforce ecosystem have not even been covered by the larger IT Research and Advisory firms.

This lag becomes a gap, where enterprises don’t hear about possibly the most innovative solutions that could benefit their Salesforce tech stack.

4. Widen the Expert Scope

Salesforce consulting partners analyze business processes, configure and customize the Salesforce platform, and plan development roadmaps that are bespoke to that client organization. A typical Salesforce consultant’s knowledge is already substantial; while they will make recommendations on certain apps, the scope of that knowledge would not extend to every option within a category.

In fact, InVisory do tap into certified consultant knowledge, thanks to the expert network they have built. These individuals have been hand-picked and know their app category inside-out. During the engagement, InVisory customers can schedule a 1-hour conversation to have their questions answered.

Without a wider, analytical approach to evaluating apps, you risk hearing only a slice of the whole story.

How InVisory Works?

We’ve already heard about the InVisory team’s collective experience. How InVisory approaches their research on the Salesforce app landscape is “Gartner-esque”:

Vendor Categorization and Analysis:

InVisory built out a proprietary (their own, original) vendor categorization and analysis methodology. This allows their analysts to generate research notes for clients more efficiently.

Toolkits:

These are designed to match InVisory’s clients with the right solution category – a challenge we’ve already highlighted. It all starts with InVisory’s portal, relaying requirements into a form, which – let’s be honest – is more appealing than attending calls with multiple vendors.

InVisory will iron out the overlapping web of app categories on your behalf. In our opinion, this is a slick way for organizations to quickly understand key feature sets, as well as which category makes the most sense for them to investigate.

Vendor Shortlist:

InVisory provide the top 5-10 vendors your organization should be considering, according to your use cases. This comes with the context to explain how those vendors made it into the shortlist.

One-to-one Technical Advice:

Technical questions that arise could range from the ease of integration and security, to the scalability of apps across various business functions. Again, there is the option to schedule a 1-hour conversation with a certified consultant who is an expert in that respective app category.

Now for the part you’ve been waiting for. The reports are a blend of informative text and visualizations. The example Vendor Profiles “Tower” diagram below clearly outlines which lead distribution management InVisory consider “Innovators”, “Contenders”, and “Front Runners” for the organization in mind:

Example InVisory Projects

InVisory have stepped in to fix a genuine issue – by this point, I’m sure you see why. When I spoke to InVisory Founder, Patrick, he shared a handful of examples that help contextualize their mission:

Marketing Automation:

The client’s desire was to increase growth, retention, and operational efficiency using marketing automation. The InVisory goal: identify a marketing automation vendor from the Salesforce ecosystem to help improve email deliverability and lag time.

Lead Distribution Automation:

The client’s desire was to automate lead distribution. But (and it’s a big but) their team did not have experience evaluating lead management tools. After requesting an initial research note, they were shocked – as are you and I – that there were 315 vendors that could provide the features their organization needed. Even if you have never been involved in the app evaluation process, you will understand that 300+ is simply too many to evaluate.

Personally, when I worked as a consultant, and to do the level of evaluation that the client deserved, I would hesitate to include more than five apps in my research. InVisory would cut wasted time for both in-house development teams and external consultants – both teams, whether in-house or contracted, have better things to do.

The InVisory value: by leveraging their proprietary data analysis methodology, InVisory provided a research note that narrowed that group down to the top 10, and provided reasons why these were selected as the front-runners for this particular organization.

Sunsetting Platforms:

The term “sunsetting” means that the technology is becoming legacy, inoperable immediately or in the future. There was one digital adoption platform that had reported this to their customer base. InVisory were tasked with identifying an alternative vendor within the Salesforce AppExchange to meet the same capabilities and requirements of the existing solution – and with the least operational disruption.

“The increasing importance of marketplaces as a discovery and purchase model for B2B buyers is clear; however, the growth in the number of providers and sellers in these marketplaces has also created challenges for buyers to discern the best fit for technology and services. Offerings like InVisory can help buyers and sellers in marketplaces align better in their mutual fit.”

– Avanish Sahai, experienced partner ecosystems and marketplaces leader at Salesforce, ServiceNow, and Google (plus, on the board at HubSpot).

What’s Next?

Has my overview piqued your interest? If yes, you’re in for a treat.

It certainly interested us. Not only has the majority of our team experienced these pinch points, but also as a brand, Salesforceben.com is invested in clearing the “chaff from the wheat”. Our AppAssessor series, which has been running since 2017, leaves the “fluffy” sales talk out of the conversation. We address what’s important to the people on the ground, implementing and integrating these solutions into the business. InVisory is both a novel concept and a no-brainer to us – a eureka moment, but also no surprise.

Get a Free Custom Research Report

Based on a topic or use case of your choice, take advantage of this offer by requesting your own high-quality report. You can reach out via the InVisory website or directly to Founder, [email protected].

Too Good to Be True?

For those of you thinking “this is too good to be true”, you have nothing to lose by taking the offer above and reviewing the quality report that InVisory will provide to you – for free.

At the same time, consider how you do need this impartial advice. Everyone wishes they had more hours in the day to dig deeper into the tech landscape. That applies to your internal development team, and the consultants you hire. All too often, consultants are thrown requirements that they need to research, on a tight timeline/billable hours limit. Do these pressured, limiting resources mean that specialists can produce the best they can, for any app category you throw at them?

That’s why InVisory exists, and it’s why we are behind their mission. The app landscape deserves some pragmatic organization, beyond buzzwords and 5-star reviews.

InVisory is available on an annual subscription model, with subscribers entitled to unlimited user licenses. Deliverables include unlimited research, toolkits, and four 1-hour subject matter, expert-led calls.

The cost is $10,000 per year, with no additional or hidden fees. Given that organizations have many unique Salesforce orgs by line of business, it’s worth noting that multiple subscriptions are encouraged for larger enterprise accounts.

We look forward to hearing more about this innovative new platform, as the InVisory team continues to find solutions for Salesforce orgs of all shapes and sizes.

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