Salesforce Blockchain is Salesforce’s latest initiative to extend CRM – by delivering a fast, easy way to build trusted partner networks which share verified and distributed data. Underpinned by Salesforce Lightning and Hyperledger open source blockchain technology, participants can deploy and manage blockchain networks, workflows, smart contracts and apps. Salesforce claims this is “with clicks, not code“. The result produces increased trust, transparency and business speed.
“We help companies build for the future by making breakthrough technology accessible and easy to use—today we are doing just that with Salesforce Blockchain,” said Bret Taylor, President and Chief Product Officer, Salesforce. “Now, companies will be able to create new ecosystems and achieve new levels of interconnectivity through trusted partner networks.”
Salesforce , the cloud-based CRM service vendor, has announced Salesforce Blockchain. This is a ‘low-code’ platform which enables organisations to share verified data sets across a distributed and trusted network of partners and third parties.
Businesses must harness and share massive amounts of data with an ever-evolving network of partners and third parties – all without sacrificing trust. By bringing blockchain to its CRM platform, Salesforces hopes its customers and partners will:
- create blockchain networks, workflows and apps
- deliver new customer experiences.
The context: today, the ability to connect redefines both:
- how businesses operate
- the experiences customers expect.
Traditional delivery, however, has introduced high levels of cost and inefficiencies. To Salesforce, blockchain addresses the ‘trust gap’ via a distributed ledger which can save, trace and authenticate data across every partner (or node) in a network. Business, irrespective of industry or sector, can then leverage blockchain across multiple use cases including:
- asset tracking
- verification and authentication of goods.
By combining CRM workflows with blockchain data, businesses can introduce new business processes (and models) to accelerate the speed of business. These can span:
The technology base
Salesforce Blockchain extends CRM. It builds on the open source technology of Hyperledger Sawtooth. There is deep customisation for Salesforce Lightning. In bringing all these together, Salesforce Blockchain seeks to lower barriers for creating trusted partner networks – because businesses can bring together authenticated, distributed data and CRM processes.
According to Salesforce, with Salesforce Blockchain, anyone can:
- build networks with Clicks—Easily: this creates and maintains blockchain networks, apps and smart contracts unique to every business by using Salesforce’s low-code capabilities; in effect customers can share a blockchain object in the same process as any CRM data object — with ‘clicks, not code’
- automate data with Lightning Platform: this makes blockchain data actionable through native integration with Salesforce and layers complex blockchain data on top of existing sales, service or marketing workflows (like search queries and process automation); in addition, business can run Einstein-powered AI algorithms to integrate blockchain data into sales forecasts, predictions and more
- engage, by lowering the barrier to entry for partners, distributors and intermediaries to leverage Salesforce Blockchain: businesses can pull in APIs, pre-built apps and integrate existing blockchains with Salesforce via an engagement layer; businesses can also interact with, and add, third parties to their blockchain with minimal clicks plus (allegedly) simple authentication (thereby creating trust networks).
“IQVIA is pleased to be working with Salesforce, building out its new blockchain platform, as we explore the potential it may bring to a number of use cases in our industry,” said Tal Rosenberg, senior vice president, Technology Solutions, IQVIA.
Three early users
Customers already deploying Salesforce Blockchain include:
- Arizona State University
- S&P Global Ratings.
Arizona State University is a public research institution which is using Salesforce Blockchain to design and create an educational network that enables universities to verify and securely share information. This network wishes to expand the ability for universities and colleges to serve ‘learners’, for example, by saving student transcripts and accomplishments into a Learner Trust Record on a unified ledger – an approach which establishes a record of the entirety of a learner’s accomplishments. With Salesforce Blockchain, Arizona State University hopes to:
- provide ownership and control of learner records to the learners themselves
- reduce friction between institutions – enabling participating institutions to provide faster and more intelligent services to students.
“With Salesforce Blockchain, we expect that this educational trust network will allow us to better serve our diverse set of undergraduate and graduate student learners,” said Kent Hopkins, Vice President of Enrollment Services at Arizona State University. “This network has the potential to be a game changer for integrated, seamless learning—increasing transparency of student achievements and ultimately making the exchange process of academic records easier for both learners and institutions.”
IQVIA offers advanced analytics, technology solutions and contract research services to the life sciences industry. It sees blockchain, as an emerging technology with a potential to impact the life sciences industry and healthcare. For this reason, IQVIA is collaborating with Salesforce to explore a variety of possible blockchain technology initiatives within its sector. One of these is specific to regulatory information management and drug label processing. The benefits, if delivered, include:
- cost savings, via label automation and improved audit traceability
- quality improvements, based on agreed collaborative rules
- enhanced security from immutable content sharing
- real-time insights.
S&P Global Ratings provides ratings, benchmarks, analytics and data for capital and commodity markets. S&P Global Ratings is leveraging Salesforce Blockchain to reduce the time it takes to review and approve new business bank accounts. By operating on a shared ledger of know-your-customer (KYC) data, it hopes to be able to combine multiple reviews in one trusted location, thus establishing a more transparent and auditable review process applicable to employees, partners and customers.
“The KYC reviews and approval process is very time consuming and requires multiple parties to ensure each business is evaluated accurately and completely,” said Chris Heusler, Global Chief Commercial Officer, S&P Global Ratings. “Leveraging Salesforce Blockchain, S&P Global Ratings has created a trusted network of reviewers, where everyone can work from a shared, transparent and auditable review process—completely reinventing and expediting how we do KYC reviews for our customers.”
Enterprise Times: what does this mean
With Salesforce Blockchain, the vendor wishes to up-end existing antiquated processes, and rebuild. It hopes this will sees businesses place customers as the centre of focus (which makes sense if you a CRM provider). The touted attraction, with blockchain, is that data can securely flow beyond a business’ own perimeter – to embrace partners and their processes. Every party in a blockchain network can verify and see each transaction transparently: information is secure, trusted and — where appropriate — auditable.
Because Salesforce Blockchain is underpinned by Salesforce Lightning, Salesforce customers can declaratively build and maintain blockchain apps, networks, and flows which direct connect to customer records within Salesforce. Partners and third parties can, therefore, leverage Lightning to connect blockchain apps or networks. This alone should accelerate adoption, arguably one of the major constraints on blockchain acceptance.
Perhaps, however, the major attraction will be for businesses that they won’t have to recruit expensive blockchain developers. In theory, any Salesforce admin or developer can use Salesforce Blockchain (though this remains to be proved).
Salesforce Blockchain is available in 2019 to select design partners. It expects general availability in 2020.