Salesforce.com is about a lot more than customer relationship management these days. Perhaps one of the most interesting facets of the product is salesforce.com as a trusted platform for enterprise cloud computing; together with Salesforce AppExchange, which it describes as "the world's leading business apps marketplace". Although, as I think that most businesses still run on in-premises hardware behind the firewall even now, I'm not sure how much real competition there is for that title (unless Apple and Android see themselves as supporting business apps, as they almost certainly do).
Anyway, whatever the status quo now, I really do think that a switch has clicked over and most people are prepared to consider, at least, trusting cloud apps these days - which makes developing them an interesting career choice for developers.
To stimulate this opportunity further Salesforce announced a 5 million Euro challenge to start-up developers at its Customer Company Tour in London this week. Start-ups will get the chance to approach investors with their ideas for apps at a series of Innovation Challenge events throughout Europe (September to November 2013), negotiate investment funding - and then the winners will be able to build, package and sell their apps on the Salesforce AppExchange.
This idea apparently even attracts the endorsement of Boris Johnson, hardly my first idea of a tech guru: "London is brimming with tech talent which is breeding a wave of innovative start-ups with the potential to grow fast", he says. "Salesforce.com's Innovation Challenge presents a fantastic opportunity for London's silicon entrepreneurs to take their business to the next level of success". That is probably true - although, in my opinion, London's developers may face stiff competition from elsewhere in Europe (or even just from elsewhere in the UK)...
Of course, to share in this investment pot, the apps will have to be developed on or ported to the Saleforce.com cloud platform. I guess Saleforce.com is a success story, so that won't worry developers too much, much as being a Microsoft developer never worried anyone much, but in these days of cross-platform development for Android and Apple, I guess I wouldn't want my apps to be only on Salesforce AppExchange.