Salesforce.com's (NYSE:CRM) hold over the customer relationship management (CRM) space over the years has been instrumental to the company's terrific growth. What's impressive is that the company has managed to keep up its momentum despite competition from bigger players such as Oracle, Microsoft, and SAP, and management's ambitions indicate that the enterprise software specialist won't be stepping off the gas.
CEO Marc Benioff has made an ambitious pledge of achieving $60 billion in revenue by 2034. So Salesforce believes that it will be able to clock double-digit revenue growth over the next 17 years. Salesforce could achieve this ambitious target provided it can carve out a bigger share of the CRM space, as the overall market itself is expected to grow at almost 8% annually through 2025.
The company reportedly held a quarter of the overall CRM market at the end of 2016, but it will need to do better if it plans to outpace the industry's growth. But how does the company plan to do that, especially considering that its well-heeled rivals are also trying to get a slice of this lucrative market? Well, Salesforce is following a well laid-out strategy of enhancing its service offerings, cross-selling and upselling to existing customers, and reducing customer attrition rates, among others.
This means that Salesforce will have to stay on top of its product development game if it wants to keep the upper hand -- and recent moves suggest it's doing exactly that.
Tapping hot CRM trends
Salesforce has been banking on emerging tech trends to extend its lead in the CRM market. The company had unveiled Einstein -- an artificial intelligence-driven solution -- to enhance the customer relationship management experience of its clients less than two years ago. The good part is that this platform has gained terrific traction since release, powering more than a billion AI-driven predictions daily.
This is a clear indication that Salesforce customers have warmed up to the adoption of AI in the CRM space, so the company has decided to step up its development efforts. For instance, in Nov. 2017, Salesforce released the Einstein Prediction Builder, which will help its customers predict outcomes based on the data they save.
This feature will come in handy for those companies who don't have AI expertise, as the Prediction Builder doesn't require coding of any sort and can be operated simply with the help of a visual editor. As such, Salesforce customers can determine hundreds of outcomes thanks to this new tool based on the data they feed into it, and then make crucial business-related decisions.
Such initiatives will help Salesforce future-proof its business and also allow it to supercharge its growth, because spending on AI-equipped CRM capabilities is expected to grow almost six-fold in the next five years.
Moreover, Salesforce recently made another move that will go a long way in boosting its addressable market. It is buying MuleSoft (NYSE:MULE), an enterprise applications integration company, for $6.5 billion. MuleSoft helps enterprises integrate their applications and data into a single connected location with the help of its integration software, and it is plying its trade in a massive market.
MuleSoft anticipates that businesses will spend $800 billion this year on integration initiatives. An average organization reportedly has 1,020 individual apps deployed across the entire breadth of the business, but just 29% of those are connected to each other. Now, 80% of the organizations surveyed by Gartner believe that they will need to integrate these apps with one another within the next five years in order to reduce costs and speed up the decision-making process.
So the MuleSoft acquisition will help Salesforce amplify its top-line growth as it can extend its reach into a new market and also cross-sell the former's solutions to its existing customers. What's more, MuleSoft believes that its top line could jump from $296 million last year to $1 billion in 2021, so this acquisition can play a key role in helping Salesforce achieve its ambitious long-term target.
What's in it for investors?
Salesforce massive growth won't come cheap. Investors have to shell out about 60x forward earnings to get a piece of the action. However, Salesforce's bottom line is now taking a turn for the better. It expects adjusted earnings of $2.03 per share in the current fiscal year, up from last year's $1.35 per share. Analysts believe that such impressive growth in Salesforce's earnings is sustainable, estimating that the bottom line will grow at a compound annual growth rate of almost 30% over the next five years.
This isn't surprising given the strings that it is pulling to grab a bigger piece of the CRM pie, so investors should definitely keep an eye on Salesforce as it could deliver strong upside for years to come.
Teresa Kersten is an employee of LinkedIn and is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft. Harsh Chauhan has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Salesforce.com. The Motley Fool owns shares of Oracle and has the following options: short June 2018 $52 calls on Oracle and long January 2020 $30 calls on Oracle. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.