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Q&A: Salesforce AppExchange’s New GM Woodson Martin on his Salesforce Journey and the Future of Marketplaces

Salesforce AppExchange, the leading enterprise cloud marketplace, has a new leader on board. Woodson Martin took the reins as GM of AppExchange last month, entering a new chapter of his 14-year long Salesforce journey. Woodson has worn many hats at the company, ranging from roles in corporate marketing to recruiting, and has served as CMO of Marketing Cloud, and most recently GM of Salesforce IoT.

AppExchange is an innovation hub for partners and customers alike, with more than 5,000 solutions that extend the power of the Salesforce Platform. Woodson brings his breadth of experience with the Salesforce ecosystem, technology and operations to AppExchange as it continues to grow. In this interview, Woodson discusses his deep Salesforce roots, his vision for marketplaces of the future, and what differentiates AppExchange.

You’ve been with Salesforce for 14 years. What were you doing before joining Salesforce, and what drew you to the company all those years ago?

Prior to my time at Salesforce, I spent nine years at a software company called Business Objects, where I led the purchase and implementation of Salesforce as our CRM system in the early 2000s. That’s how I got hooked on the potential of the cloud.

As I learned the ins and outs of Salesforce, I couldn’t help but notice the community of innovators who built apps on the Salesforce Platform, empowering our customers to better serve their customers while growing their businesses. The way an ecosystem was growing around Salesforce from the very beginning struck me as incredibly powerful.

You started at Salesforce before AppExchange existed. Can you tell us about AppExchange’s evolution over the years?

Even in the infancy of the company, Marc Benioff pushed everyone to think broadly about giving customers the ability to build applications on Salesforce tailored to their individual needs. It became a requirement for working with the world’s major corporations. Then Marc got the idea from Steve Jobs that Salesforce needed to have an "application ecosystem," and in 2006 that turned into AppExchange, which was the first enterprise app marketplace. Our customers and independent software developers quickly embraced this idea, and today the AppExchange ecosystem has more than 5,000 solutions and nearly 90 percent of customers have installed an AppExchange app.

What do you think differentiates AppExchange from other marketplaces, and what do you think our biggest opportunities are?

Our Trailblazers—the community of innovators who use the Salesforce Platform to drive change across industries and around the world—make AppExchange different from any other marketplace. AppExchange provides a unique and unrivaled flourishing of business application development and collaboration to meet the needs of the more than 150,000 companies who rely on Salesforce to transform their businesses. They extend Salesforce into new industries, unlocking opportunities around the world, and their innovations will contribute to the creation of 3.3 million new jobs, and projected collective GDP impact of $859 million, by 2022.

And we’re passionate about helping them succeed. Just last week, we welcomed a cohort of 11 partners into Salesforce Accelerate, a program designed to help partners bring their apps to market faster and grow with AppExchange. These partners includes Proximity Insight, Prodly, Metazoa, enosiX, Samanage, AscentERP, Sitecore, Fielo, TaskRay, TalkDesk and Sitetracker, and we’re thrilled to work closely with them to drive customer success. Our partners, like those selected for Accelerate, are the Trailblazers who will propel AppExchange’s success in the years to come.

What do you think our global community of Trailblazers will expect from AppExchange in the next 10-20 years?

As our global ecosystem grows, providing our partners with a breadth of connected resources will be imperative. Our customers have a wide variety of needs that require a broad set of capabilities to address. They want these capabilities to be easily accessible and deeply integrated with Salesforce. And beyond our own technologies, customers want the Salesforce solutions they use to integrate with external platforms and legacy systems. That’s why welcoming MuleSoft into the Salesforce family last year was a pivotal move—Mulesoft will be crucial in creating connected experiences across the Salesforce ecosystem, extending the capabilities of AppExchange solutions.

Convergence in the channel is increasingly common, with SIs acting more like ISVs and vice versa. What’s your vision for how marketplaces can adapt to this trend to better serve partners?

Marketplaces of the future will remove the hassle of sifting through thousands of apps to solve customer needs. They will leverage AI to make smarter recommendations than ever thought possible, surfacing the right ingredients to help customers deliver smarter, faster and cost effective solutions with the help of the right people, processes and technologies. Eventually, the traditional structure of the marketplace will shift to a future where the unit of utility isn’t necessarily at the “company” level—marketplaces will anticipate individual customer needs and connect solutions from across the ecosystem.

What excites you the most about the opportunity to lead AppExchange?

The people. The AppExchange team is full of leaders with hundreds of years of combined Salesforce experience, and our ecosystem is full of partners who are building their businesses on our platform with unprecedented innovation. I’m privileged to collaborate with the top technologists, the best business minds, the most courageous investors and the most creative marketers in the game—and I’m fired up for what we’ll accomplish together.


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