The blogosphere is ablaze this morning on the formal announcement that Salesforce will be bundling (is it still called bundling when it’s SaaS!?) Google apps along with it’s CRM offering. There’s a bunch of analysis out there;

Phil Waineright says;

This is a huge validation for Office 2.0

Basically saying that Google benefits from SFDC’s patronage. But as we’ll see later, SFDC’s cred today isn’t neccessarily a good thing for the continuation of Office 2.0

This will spread faster than people expect or realize

Ease of use will create viral uptake – all those happy SFDC users will all of a sudden embrace Google apps – and there’s very little chance of that IMHO

This is a showcase for on-demand integration.

A poster child of aggregating SaaS – can’t argue too much there – nice use of APIs and all that

Salesforce for Google Apps is a PaaS offering.

Think enterprise level collaboration environments – Sort of… true integrating Google Apps will lend itself to more document collaboration and business process tracking. But to my mind, a god PaaS offering is more neutral than this – now if SFDC offered Google apps, Zoho and Buzzword, that’d be different

Over on Zoho blog however they’re saying that;

Very Expensive + Affordable = Still Very Expensive

SFDC is an expensive offering, teaming it with a free one is strange. SFDC is also a marketing driven bloated business model that doesn’t blend nicely with Google’s viral one. Some might say it’s a way for SFDC to get a little more hip but I’m not sure Benioff sees it that way.

So… what do I think? I have to say I’m in the camp of the detractors. Sure I love SaaS and dig aggregation, but this aggregation doesn’t make sense to me. Let’s see why:

  1. Google docs is a reasonably lightweight, primarily consumer focused offering while SFDC is a heavier true business grade one – I don’t see a huge intersect between traditional Google apps users and traditional SFDC ones – so the upside for either company is negligible
  2. Sure the ability to create docs from within SFDC is nice, but if you’re creating those docs within an app that hasn’t achieved acceptance within your organisation, it’s just a feature you’ll turn off by default
  3. If you want light(ish)weight SaaS apps along with CRM, you’ll go straight for Zoho which already has both (and very interesting to note that SFDC tried to buy Zoho or shut down their CRM offering
  4. If you want enterprise grade you’ll (and yes I hate to say it) use sharepoint/MS office and work around integrating that with your CRM

Over on Smoothspan Bob is correct when he says that;

However, the history of CRM is not 100% encouraging…..  Many salespeople view it as a necessary evil while their management uses it mostly as a forecasting tool (how much will we sell this quarter) which it does a very poor job of.  This latter creates a huge misalignment between management and the users of the CRM/SFA (Sales Force Automation) tool.  Understandably, there is a lot of pressure to close deals.  Equally understandably, salespeople may not want management to have a total surveillance view of every bit of data associated with the deal.  Most of the time what’s in Salesforce and other CRM system is a pretty carefully prepared presentation of what the salesperson wants management to see as the current status of the sale.

So the potential is there, but the true nature of CRM system may mitigate how much of the potential is realized.

Fake Steve Jobs makes an interesting point (as an aside has anyone noticed that FSJ is much less tongue in cheek and more “real world” these days) when he says that;

Benioff himself is getting disrupted by little guys like SugarCRM. You know why? Because Benioff, ironically, has built his business around a bloated, overly expensive, outdated business model, a model that comes straight out of the late Nineties — he’s running his own data center, and he’s using Sun servers and Oracle software….. Meanwhile the rest of the world has leapt ahead onto Intel architecture and Linux. For Benioff to survive into the era of the cloud he’ll have to rip up his entire architecture and rebuild it. Yeah. It’s like that. He’s stuck. And he knows it. He’s not doing cloud computing. He’s doing what we all already recognize was a precursor to the cloud.

So SFDC and Google is akin to Microsoft and Yahoo marrying – and that’d never happen…. would it?

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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