A number of prominent blogs including Renee Boucher Ferguson, Sinclair Schuller and Bob Warfield this morning wrote about the outcome of an informal straw poll conducted during a panel discussion hosted by Phil Wainewright at the OpSource SaaS summit this week.

In a show of hands, Out of 250 ISV’s attending the summit,only 2 were planning to use Force.com as their Dev Platform. (40 responded yes to building their own SaaS platform and 10 to a Software plus Services approach). Bob and Sinclair discuss their viewpoint on reasons why this was the case.

Some of these points included
1. Salesforce.com is not a neutral platform.
2. Its more of an “Extension platform” not a revolutionary one.
3. Bob adds that its too expensive an option.

So what is the sweetspot for Force.com? Bob rightly points out that it will appeal to Internal IT departments within Enterprise already using Salesforce.com as they are not as price sensitive. I agree with this as my experience at Dreamforce when Apex was first announced a couple of years ago, IT Department employees sitting at my dinner table were excited at the prospects of building their own modules, while the ISV’s sitting at the same table were lukewarm.

I believe Force.com will find its dominant niche in areas which are CRM related. So I actually think its sweetspot will be vertical offerings of CRM. http://www.verticalsondemand.com, a Pharma CRM system built on Force.com is a prime example of this.

The challenge of gaining a significant foothold into general SaaS platforms is a far greater one for Force.com. There are many SaaS solutions and ideas which are not customer centric at all. Maybe this is where Platform as a Service is heading? Specific Value Add platforms for specific business functions.

This was originally posted by the author, Troy Wing on his personal blog.

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