Salesforce users know that a major selling point of the platform is third-party offerings.
One of those third-party providers is Conga, which offers applications that work on top of the Salesforce platform. Relationships like this help Salesforce dominate the CRM landscape, despite Microsoft becoming the leader in terms of revenues in the SaaS marketplace as a whole, according to a recent report.
Conga helps Salesforce customers generate many types of documents and reports that don't require manual entry of Salesforce application data. For that reason, it is the most frequently downloaded paid-for SaaS service from the Salesforce's App Exchange, according to Conga CEO Matthew Schiltz.
As such, it's a key representative of the many third parties that help Salesforce round out what its CRM platform can do. Conga, with 8,000 customers and 200,000 users, is the largest generator of revenues on the Salesforce App Exchange, Schiltz explained in an interview.
"Salesforce has made CRM software-as-a-service a mainstream application. It's essentially a platform" for many different users, and as such, needs third parties to help it satisfy the many uses to which it's being put, he noted.
Before Conga, Schiltz worked at Blue Box Group -- now part of IBM -- as well as Tier 3, which was acquired by CenturyLink.
Conga was founded in 2006 -- seven years after Salesforce started -- as an online creator of documents filled with data from Salesforce CRM apps. Conga's applications run on Amazon Web Services cloud. They can be used to offload data from Salesforce apps in order to populate a business's sales proposals, marketing statements, or customer contracts.
Salesforce customers don't need Conga to do that, said Schiltz. They can isolate Salesforce data on their own and re-enter it into Word documents, but the process will be more laborious and error-prone than it would be when the document builder tells Conga what data to retrieve. Conga can assign a regular retrieval to a workflow that automates building a report or document each time the document owner calls for it.
Earlier this year, Conga decided to expand its offerings through three acquisitions.
First, it acquired ActionGrid, which takes Salesforce data from multiple applications and plugs it into a spreadsheet-like grid, where it can be sorted or used to develop a big-picture report. It can assemble information on current sales prospects, for example, so that a company's sales team can see what it knows in total about each prospect.
[Want to learn how Microsoft took the lead in SaaS? Read Microsoft Seizes SaaS Lead From Salesforce.]
"We can save a lot of keystrokes, a lot of data entry and re-entry," Schiltz said.
Conga also purchased the Novatus software-as-a-service supplier, dubbing its contract management system Conga Novatus.
Finally, Conga purchased CRMCulture, a system integrator that it frequently worked with, to become Conga Services, a professional consulting branch that helps customers implement Conga services to work with their Salesforce applications.
In that sense, Conga is a company that is finding ways to add to the Salesforce ecosystem. It aims to allow Salesforce users to get more value for their subscriptions. Schiltz said that he's impressed with Microsoft's growth as a SaaS vendor as well, and that there's no reason Conga's data handling and document preparation wouldn't work with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
But Conga has its hands full with Salesforce customer growth and isn't really interested in that alternative now.
"Salesforce has been an amazing partner for us. For now, we're really happy with them."Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive ... View Full Bio