CEO Marc Benioff is the main speaker at the Salesforce World Tour sessions (Photo: Salesforce)

MUNICH - With 7,100 guests registered to attend the German part of its World Tour, is sending a clear signal that it aims to grow its presence in Europe.

The San Francisco-based business software group has been on a roll worldwide, with sales jumping 32 pc in 2014 to 5.37 billion dlrs. Co-founder and CEO Marc Benioff says he wants to be a 10 billion dlr company in record time.

Driving that growth is the Salesforce1 platform, which offers customers cloud-based and fully mobile access to a host of CRM tools provided by the company and its myriad partners. And with more companies overcoming their initial resistance to the cloud, Salesforce has seen its business grow as well.

The ambitious worldwide goals are echoed by regional Salesforce managers. Joachim Schreiner, who heads the German and central European operations, told the World Tour audience here that his goal is to become the biggest software company in Germany.

Next month, Salesforce is taking a big step to boost its European business when it opens a data center in Germany, its second in Europe. The German facility is operated together with T-Systems. Salesforce opened a UK data center, its first in Europe, in October last year.

For Salesforce and other US IT companies local data storage has become increasingly important following revelations that US agencies have regularly gained access to data stored in the US. That has made many European companies hesitant to hand over their data to IT companies that hold them in the US.

Since its founding in 1999, Salesforce has been pushing cloud-based services and wholesale digitization of business processes as the logical way to streamline IT, especially in the area of customer relations. Salesforce has been at the forefront of simplifying CRM.

Now, Benioff said at the World Tour gathering here, the next major change is taking place. "We are moving from systems of engagement to systems of intelligence," he said. Analytics and big data play a big role in this transformation.

salesforce-munich-2015-floor-300x171 The exhibition at the World Tour features a range of business apps from Salesforce and partners (Photo: Arjen Bongard

That's one of the reasons Salesforce announced Thursday that it is rolling out its so-called Analytics Cloud in Germany. The software, which was unveiled late last year, lets end-users perform various data analysis functions on their smartphones, tablets or PCs. "Customers in Germany will be able to gain insights into their business and their customers in a completely new way," said Alex Dayon, president products at Salesforce.

During the Munich convention, which looks and feels like a mini version of Salesforce's annual Dreamforce exhibition in San Francisco, the company also published the results of a survey it commissioned on the economic impact of its software.

Researchers at IDC, which polled business executives in 27 countries, said that, in Germany alone, tbe Salesforce ecosystem will contribute 2.8 billion euros to the country's GDP by 2018.

IDC also said that roughly 75 pc of all IT spending continues to go to the maintenance and upgrading of legacy systems. Cloud computing, IDC said, allows companies to shift some of that legacy work to the cloud, which, in turn frees up funds for more IT innovation.

More and more automotive companies are also using Salesforce applications. In 2013, Daimler China started the rollout of a Salesforce-based CRM system for the fast-growing market. But the premium car group has opted not to deploy the same system at its headquarters in Germany. Other car companies are also in talks with Salesforce, whose automotive business is headed by former Renault COO Patrick Pelata.

At the CeBIT high-tech fair in Hanover in March, T-Systems launched a customer-facing system for dealers, repair shops, cars and drivers based on the automotive version of the Salesforce Customer Experience Management (CEM) program.

T-Systems, the business services division of Germany's Telekom, said CEM Automotive, which aims to improve sales and service processes, is in use at 10 German dealer groups, but the company is also talking to dealerships in China, Taiwan, Mexico, Brazil and the US.

CEM Automotive offers various modules, which include mobile service check-in and the option to provide potential customers targeted information about a particular vehicle.

-By Arjen Bongard