Thursday, June 24, 2010

Salesforce “Chatter” or is microblogging the killer feature of CRM

There’s been a lot of talk over the last 5 or so years about making CRM (customer relationship management systems) more “social network”-oriented. Pundits have discussed what that could mean to an organization – namely everything from knowledge management to drastically improving customer relations.

To be perfectly honest, I never really had a place in my heart for Salesforce – they always came off as arrogant and overpriced. However, they keep doing the right things – they nailed the platform-as-a-service with and now they are introducing “chatter” – a twitter for CRM that brings the records activity into one’s peripheral vision and allows level of collaboration that wasn’t possible before. Watch this video to get the idea:

I still have a bone or two to pick with Salesforce. I think their pricing is predatory by Web2.0 standards - $125/user/mo and they are charging a separate fee for chatter?!
Having said that I think this feature will be hugely successful as it finally makes the data stored in the CRM useful and actionable. I will be surprised if other CRM’s don’t follow the suite very soon..

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

PBWorks to introduce a CRM


Looks like PBWiki has been busy.. very busy..

It's been a while since I've looked at their offerings, and was pleasantly surprised at the amount of work they've done.  In time that takes most companies to revise a single-function software product, they've introduced an equivalent of 3-4 full-size SaaS titles. 

Specifically, PBWiki (or PBWorks as they call themselves now) now sports:

  • Collaborative Page Editing (this is the old wiki functionality)
  • Document Management
  • Tasks
  • Integrated Presence / IM / Chat
  • Microblogging
  • APIs

They wrap all this functionality nicely in "Workspaces" - the approach that I find very, very helpful and long overdue as the work is done by project anymore, not by companies or org units.

So with all that said, what is the natural extension of an already beefy feature-set?  Well, a CRM of course!  That is what PBWorks announced at the Enterprise2.0 conference.  Due out Q3 2010, workspace-centric CRM makes sense for “high-activity” sales.

Here’s a paragraph from PBWorks’ announcement:

How is this different from a traditional CRM solution?

  • Traditional CRM solutions are great for sales managers and CFOs.  They handle contact management, forecasting, and reporting.  But they don't actually touch the customer.  All the actual customer touches (sharing documents, coordinating activities, negotiating contracts) take place via other means that might get logged in your CRM system--if you're lucky.
  • PBworks Customer Relationship Edition supplements or enhances traditional CRM solutions by providing a customer-facing environment for vendors and customers to work together on presales (document sharing, coordination, negotiation) as well as postsales (project rollout, support & follow-up) activities.

This development highlights couple of things:

  1. All roads lead to a CRM!
    Regardless what functionality they start with, connecting to the customer is the holy grail of SaaS, and most SaaS offerings eventually end up offering a CRM function
  2. CRM selection is becoming even harder with all the would-be single-function-products embracing the CRM functionality

Exciting times!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Lazy, Hazy, Crazy: The 10 Laws of Behavioral Cloudonomics

for those of you in the SaaS business, a very insightful read from Joe Weinman via GigaOM:

Behavioral Cloudonomics — the intersection of psychology, economics, and the cloud — can help us to make the most of the appeal of the cloud and understand and address barriers to adoption.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Comparison of online spreadsheets

by TechJotter:

Unified Search from Zoho

Yesterday Zoho introduced a unified "actionable" search.
Now, maybe that doesn't sound too exciting at first, but once you start using it, you get the feeling that you typically get from Apple products.. Product managers call these features "delighters" - it's those largely unsolicited/unexpected features that give the user that special fuzzy feeling of "I didn't know I needed it, but it's so cool!"

I don't know about you, but my behavior as a user of windows completely changed when they introduced system-wide indexing - now instead of trying to find that application or remember which folder i saved the file to I just type a name into the app launcher and it finds what I'm looking for! What Zoho did is an equivalent of that - it looks through all the files, emails, discussions in Zoho world and shows results. The second part of this feature is being able to do something with these results without having to open the "application" - you can reply or forward email, share a document, etc.. right from there.

I've mentioned before that I like what Zoho doing and how they are doing it. They are not perfect, but they are innovating and showing their commitment to this product! And that is commendable. Not to mention that they beat Google to the punch at their own game (search).