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Salesforce Outage Leaves Organizations Scrambling to Cover Core Processes for CRM

Salesforce is a well-established player in the customer relationship management (CRM) space, with compelling plays in adjacent markets such as marketing automation, customer service, and customer collaboration software. Salesforce is a market titan in CRM, with over 400 in-depth reviews submitted on (far surpassing any other vendor).

On May 17, a global outage struck a large number of Salesforce’s customers. Instances of Salesforce that had Pardot were hit by an endemic permissions issue, which caused Salesforce to heavily restrict access to common objects as a measure to protect sensitive customer data. The outage first occurred Friday morning, and was not fully resolved until Saturday evening. While the Salesforce technology team was able to isolate and fix the issue, the damage was done. Sales and service operations at many of Salesforce’s customers ground to a halt, as commercial staff were unable to access critical account, opportunity, and case information.

The incident underscored that even popular SaaS vendors such as Salesforce are not immune to outages. While we expect the reputational damage to Salesforce will be relatively short-lived (and the overall shift to SaaS CRM solutions will continue unabated), it does provide a wake-up call to IT leaders. IT must have a cogent strategy to communicate quickly and effectively to affected teams when an outage occurs, and have contingency processes and operating procedures in place to deal with outages (such as fallback applications for account note-taking that can later be ported back into the core CRM environment).

Our Take

  • Salesforce is an established market leader in CRM, as well as adjacent areas such as marketing orchestration and customer service platforms.
  • Salesforce experienced pervasive service outages on May 17, 2019.
  • This outage is unlikely to dent the firm’s long-term prospects or the widespread market move to SaaS CRM, but it still underscores the need for IT to have contingency processes in place for dealing with outages in critical enterprise systems.

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