Being April 1st, this post will take a satirical but true look on what life could be…
I was looking back at my old High School yearbook and the most common “status message” for the individual bios was:
Some people see things as they are and say WHY? I dream things that never were and say WHY NOT?
(By the way, this was taken from the eulogy from Edward Kennedy to his late brother Robert)
So that got me thinking…
If there’s one trend in IT, it’s the fact that software is getting more and more like bloatware.
Take a look at Microsoft Excel. I think for the average user, the Excel 97 version will probably suffice. Even Google Docs and Spreadsheets is enough for most people with the most rudimentary features including formatting, tables and simple formulas.
Really, who needs advanced pivot tables?
It’s the same with an Operating Systems. In the early days, you needed to buy a separate browser (remember Netscape?), antivirus, anti-spyware, zip file compression, CD/DVD burning and countless other modules and software packages to fill the gap.
Today, it’s one stop shopping… or one throat to choke.
So when it comes to Enterprise Software, it’s only natural to see the trend evolve.
Bloatware in CRM
Let’s talk about CRM.
I’ve always been an advocate of having VoIP and conference calling features built in. A video add-on would be a plus. To me, it makes total sense to have a voice and chat component to a sales and contact center, and have the call logged in your CRM. That’s why Salesforce bought DimDim (see DimDim alternatives here)
Let’s talk about ERP.
Doesn’t it make sense to have your ERP system closely tied with your CRM? Or have your CRM tied to your ERP? (and I’m not promoting Oracle’s Exadata/Exalogic, even though it might appear so) In most cases, it’s the ERP legacy systems that have evolved.
The recent news about SAP’s new Sales OnDemand as an extension to its on-premises ERP is a good example of this ERP/CRM integration.
I agree, the competition is fierce because traditional CRM software was designed for managers, who wanted to micromanage data so everything relevant gets tracked and reported. Apparently Sales OnDemand is built for salespeople. We’ll see the final verdict.
Now that we’re on the topic of bloatware, here are a couple more “why not” questions to ponder:
- Why doesn’t Google have a CRM?
- Why doesn’t Salesforce have a Marketing Automation module?
- Why doesn’t Oracle’s OnDemand CRM have a Facebook-like (i.e. Yammer, Chatter, or even the new Convofy) feed for users?
- Should Salesforce get into the datacenter business?
- Should Salesforce get into the back office business?
Google Apps CRM?
The most important item to ask is, “What do you want your CRM to do for you?”.
It can be simple contact organizer, like Outlook or Salesforce’s Contact Manager. Or you can use many of the social add-ons and plugins like Xobni, Gist, Rapportive, Plaxo,
Etacts, and MailBrowser Cloudmagic. It can turn your email system into a mini-CRM with social functionality. For some people, this is all you need.
For a more robust CRM, you need some workflow rules and reporting.
Google Apps top product for CRM based on downloads is Zoho CRM in their marketplace.
Lauren Carlson at Software Advice wrote an extensive piece titled Will Google Enter the CRM Market? My thoughts was Salesforce would have been a prime target for acquisition when the stock was at $70. Now hovering around $140 makes it a bit too expensive, but never say never. Especially to Google with deep pockets as big as their datacenters.
The diversity and depth is the reason why Google has not positioned itself in the CRM market. It is a search company, and slowing making its way into the Enterprise Software world with Google Apps. They are even in the PaaS space with Google App Engine and Google Storage.
Salesforce Marketing Automation?
The big rumor mill at DF ‘10 was why doesn’t Marketo get acquired by Salesforce?
Mike MacFarlane from Marketing Automation Software Guide wrote The Importance of CRM Integration in Marketing Automation. in the article, he lists 6 advanced functions and gives 10 questions you should ask when evaluating a marketing automation platform.
He sums it nicely by saying you want access to any piece of data that will help you communicate and sell better. That’s the bottom line.
So when are we going to see a Salesforce.com Marketing Automation?
Oracle’s OnDemand CRM with Chatter?
There’s no argument about a Facebook-like Enterprise app will increase engagement. This month will see the Yammer/Chatter equivalent called Convofy.
Whether or not it increases productivity is another story. I think you need a certain critical mass in company size to make it worthwhile. And effective.
For more insight on this topic, Erika Morphy has a good read on this titled: How Long Until Other CRM Providers Come Out with a Salesforce.com-like Chatter?
The way we do business today has changed, and going social is just part of the equation.
Salesforce in the Data Center Business?
With the recent earthquake in Japan, my initial thoughts about the company was Salesforce’s new data center. Parker Harris quickly noted the new DC is in Tokyo and not affected by the natural disaster.
I personally believe Salesforce should build their own datacenter, and Rich Miller’s article on datacenterknowledge.com goes in depth with an interview with Frank Guerrera, Vice President of Technical Operations at Salesforce.com:
Salesforce.com currently operates seven data centers around the U.S. and Asia spanning about 76,000 square feet of space, with two data centers apiece in Chicago and northern Virginia, along with facilities in San Francisco, San Jose and Singapore. The company is preparing to open a new data center in Japan, and expects to open a facility in Europe next year.
With the increased usage of storage, owning datacenters might be the most cost-effective approach.
Salesforce in the Back Office business?
With the announcement of Database.com, along with recent acquisitions of Herouku, Radian6, and DimDim, it is clear they are sticking to the formula of Open Cloud, Social and Mobile. That was my take home message from Dreamforce 2010.
But what about the back office? My take is they are going to concentrate on their partner base like Remedy and FinancialForce. And growing. Goggle Apps have been very successful with their Apps Marketplace.
As always, Denis Pombriant article on Benioff’s Front-Office Vision gives great insight on what could be next.
One thing is certain: everyone wants a piece of the pie. Whether it’s front and back office, or Oracle’s Hardware and Software engineered to work together, you want to grow deep and wide.