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!