Zendesk is best known for its customer support services, but it thinks it is ready to challenge larger players in the broader world of sales and marketing software with a new customer-relationship management development platform.
Zendesk Sunshine will be immediately available Tuesday morning, and it was designed to let companies pull application data from across different applications and connect it on Amazon Web Services, which is hosting the new service. It represents an attempt to go after bigger customers that are already familiar with Zendesk’s core products but need flexible data-management applications.
“We think it’s very much a different type of platform for the era that we’re in right now,” said Sam Boonin, vice president of product strategy at Zendesk.
He’s referring to the shift in thinking around data, from amassing and analyzing Big Data to connecting data sets across different parts of a business. Customers using Zendesk for responding to different types of inquiries, like customer service or technical support, would like have easier ways to cross-reference customer data learned from those encounters using their own tools, Boonin said.
Sunshine will be part of Zendesk’s basic services, and the company is introducing three components of the platform Tuesday.
Profiles will allow customers to build a central, well, profile of their customers by pulling data from across Zendesk interactions, and Events allows developers to build a history of those customer interactions in a timeline. Users will also be able to pull in data from outside sources through Custom Objects, which has been in a beta period for a few months.
The company believes that building on top of AWS makes it more appealing than other CRM development platforms, in that it’s not asking Zendesk developers — who are likely familiar with AWS — to learn new custom tools and policies, Boonin said. He believes that could set Zendesk apart from companies like Salesforce and its Lightning development platform, which has its own way of making the donuts.
About 60 percent of Zendesk’s business comes from small and medium-sized companies, but the rest comes from the big ones, and the company believes this development platform will make it more competitive for those bigger deals, Boonin said.
AWS has also been part of Zendesk’s own infrastructure strategy over the past year or so, moving Zendesk services from its own servers to the AWS cloud, Boonin said.
“It’s not just a cheaper place to host our software, we rebuilt the better part of our back-end architecture on AWS, he said, “and we realized we’re gaining a lot of developer productivity.”