The biggest casualty of Salesforce's surprise acquisition of contract management vendor SteelBrick last year was competitor Apttus. After all, Apttus is built upon the Salesforce platform and has focused pretty much exclusively on Salesforce ecosystem opportunities. Indeed, last year's Dreamforce conference, Salesforce's annual mega-party, featured Apttus very heavily -- a not insignificant investment from the well-funded, but small, vendor.
Despite its insistence that the SteelBrick acquisition wasn't a problem, it was hard to see how Apttus wasn't hurt by the move. Today's news would seem to validate that perspective.
Apttus is launching what it calls an "Intelligent Cloud" that it hopes will shake things up in CRM land. The idea of the product is that anyone, no matter what CRM they are using, can take advantage of what Apttus is doing. After years of making waves as Salesforce's top-performing partner, Apttus is about to debut on Microsoft Azure.
Beyond Salesforce's SteelBrick connection, this news is interesting from another perspective: Bboth Salesforce and Microsoft are using unicorn Apttus to provide sales and revenue applications to their customers. Alongside the news that Apttus is broadening out to be able to support any customers, the companies are jointly announcing at Microsoft's Envision conference this week that Microsoft customers can now use Apttus for quote-to-cash apps covering end-to-end sales and revenue operations.
In terms of what Apttus is offering, the platform includes the suite of Apttus solutions:
- The Full Apttus Quote-to-Cash Suite: Configure Price Quote (CPQ), Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM), Omnichannel E-Commerce and Revenue Management solutions.
- Incentives Suite: promotions, sales compensation, rebates and alerts. Additionally, Apttus' X-Author solution allows Microsoft Word and Excel to function as user interfaces for CRM platforms.
- Deep-Learning Intelligence: a tool that makes dynamic recommendations to help make relevant, informed action across the enterprise.
Not one to understate things, Apttus CEO Kirk Krappe is effusive about this move:
"Apttus pioneered the quote-to-cash category and introduced the world to end-to-end revenue operations in the cloud. Today, we've made our entire suite and newest breakthroughs available to Microsoft customers. The Apttus Intelligent Cloud gives our customers unique business advantages and dramatically increases revenues. We look forward to working hand-in-hand with Microsoft, as we have for many years, to bring these capabilities to all forward-thinking organizations."
The move was for Apttus to make and, backed into a corner by the SteelBrick deal, the company had little option. The fact that the news comes soon after another competitor, Icertis, announced its own integration with Microsoft (as well as Salesforce) shows that these vendors are concerned about tying themselves to a single vendor. Apttus has the cash and momentum to execute -- one only wonders what its future holds given its somewhat complicated history.
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