Thomas Cole was a painter who created the painting series The Course of Empire, where he showed the rise and fall of a city in five paintings, demonstrating what he felt were “universal truths about mankind and his abiding relationship with the natural world.”
The Consummation of Empire
The third painting in the series is called The Consummation of Empire, where human creation really takes center stage. The architecture, statues, crowds, and vessels are meant to show the empire at its peak. People are having a great time.
This does not last.
The next painting in the series is called Destruction, where total chaos erupts. Enemy warriors have penetrated the walled city, sailed up the river and are now ransacking the city and killing its residents. Buildings are burning. People are dying. Many more will perish from this violent offensive.
Why am I showing you this?
Well, it sounds scary, right? As soon as I saw David Liu’s most recent video, this painting series came into my head. If there’s a feeling David was trying to evoke out of his viewers/readers, it was the anxiety that Destruction is on its way to kill Salesforce and your career that you worked so hard for.
Here’s why I’m not fearful and why you shouldn’t be either:
- it’s not worth stressing over things out of your control (and I don’t think Salesforce will fall out of favor anytime soon)
- you will have plenty of transferable skills if Salesforce goes away
I’ll also give my thoughts on what “the writing on the wall” for Salesforce’s demise looks like.
Don’t stress over things you can’t control
“Every great company will fail one day.” - David Liu
Like Thomas Cole’s painting series touching on universal truths about mankind, David’s quote highlights the universal truth about businesses (specifically Salesforce).
And yes, Salesforce will die. It probably won’t happen in three years. When it does die, what companies would pick up the pieces? Startups? Dynamics? Zoho? Should you learn how all these new technologies work right here and now?
Who cares! It doesn’t help to worry about what we can’t control. Focus on building up your technical and people skills, and you’ll be able to apply these to the next Salesforce that comes along. Which reminds me…
Your knowledge won’t be useless
David argues Salesforce admins can’t stay admins forever because their earnings will be capped early in their career. He also contends that since admin jobs are drying up, that their Salesforce-specific knowledge will be useless when “Salesforce inevitably goes 💩.” Let me tackle these points:
Are admin jobs drying up?
Admin jobs aren’t disappearing, but they are evolving. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to break into the Salesforce ecosystem as an admin when the supply of new entrants to the market has shot up, which is partially attributable to the “if you get one cert, you will now make $100,000+ without any effort” marketing lie that Salesforce (and Salesforce-adjacent) people promote.” I’m here to say that certs alone will not get you that first job. It will take a lot of hard work and dedication, and it will pay off.
Your skills aren’t going to waste
When the time inevitably comes, Salesforce professionals will have to lean on the skills they learned while on the platform to continue their careers.
Let’s take a nuanced approach to the doom-and-gloom Salesforce prediction by taking stock of the skills you have because they’re likely very transferable. Here are some that come to mind:
- understanding the purpose of a CRM: why would companies want to use a CRM in the first place? What business problems are they solving by purchasing and investing in their CRM implementation?
- you will need to understand the limitations of CRM and still meet business needs: inevitably, CRM customers will find the out-of-the-box solutions don’t satisfy their business requirements and will need to customize and maintain the solutions to meet the demands of the business
- you can’t be a good steward of your CRM implementation w/out collaborating with people: working with and being able to influence people is a crucial part of creating a successful CRM strategy.
You’re always learning now, anyway
Salesforce has three major releases each year, and it’s jam-packed with all the new features to learn. I don’t write in Visualforce anymore, but was that knowledge useless? No. It gave me a better understanding of proprietary markup language. Be positive and you’ll find there are lessons to be learned from technologies you no longer use.
What’s the “writing on the wall” for Salesforce’s demise?
“The industry is super hot right now, but even these people should be stressing over their long-term career because it won’t last forever, and I’m starting to see the writing on the wall.”
David never mentioned what writing on the wall was, so I’m going to lay out some things Salesforce does or could do that would hurt their market share in the long-term:
Content with the status quo
Salesforce is currently the market leader in the CRM space, by a long shot. That level of distance between them and their next largest competitor might make them get too comfortable. I’d suggest reading Lessons from the Death of a Tech Goliath, which talks about Siebel’s fall from grace. There’s great stuff in there about how poisonous maintaining the status quo can be.
This one is a little more tactical. For companies that are too deep in the Salesforce sauce to move to another platform, this is something they’ll have to deal with. Eventually, it will get old, and some customers will need to create a CRM migration plan.
Lose trust with customers
This one will cause the most significant harm to Salesforce in the short-medium term. If I’m putting myself in David’s shoes, this one is top-of-mind for me. There’s a running joke at large enterprise tech companies that “you can’t trust trust[.salesforce.com]”. Quotes like these are emblematic of “crayon on the wall,” but the writing on the wall is customers leaving in droves for a CRM they can trust.
Customers get frustrated by everything being behind a price tag, but I get it; they’re running a business.
You will reinvent yourselves many times throughout your career. If Salesforce is still around and you want to grow in it, that’s totally achievable. If it’s not, you’ll have a wealth of knowledge and skills that are transferable.