Community - the product that isn't, yet

  • 16-Aug-2012

Earlier this week, noted SaaS vendor Salesforce announced a new offering called "Community," which appears to try to compete with Jive and others to provide external customer community services. As a closely watched company considered by many a key "disrupter" within the enterprise IT landscape, anything Salesforce announces is sure to garner a lot of attention.

Unfortunately, you can't actually use Community today. Or even try it. Right now they're providing journalists a short demo of something planned for piloting later this year and general availability in.... H2/2013 . Pricing and packaging remain unknown. If Microsoft made such an announcement, they would be pilloried, but in my experience, analysts and other pundits tend to give Salesforce a pass.

The reality is that Salesforce has underwhelmed in its recent bespoke software development. The company has struggled with both Chatter (which we evaluate in our Collaboration and Social Software stream) and (which we evaluate in our Web Content & Experience Management stream), in some cases referencing features that exist on the roadmap, but not in the documentation.

The typical Salesforce answer is that their "rapid development cycles" will bridge all shortcomings. There's a sliver of truth to this, but only a sliver. Succeeding in the enterprise space requires more than just disruption, but also execution. Salesforce is good at executing press releases.

To be sure, Salesforce offers an excellent hosted CRM platform for small- to mid-sized businesses, along with a very mature (if awkwardly quite upscale) social media monitoring platform that they acquired in Radian6. But customer-facing applications are a very different animal, and Salesforce has struggled here in the past. Test early versions of Community -- or any other product -- very carefully before signing on.

Our customers say...

"As high-end web consultants, we use a variety of research tools to keep on top of the evolving technology platforms. Among these, Real Story Group is by far the best--a sort of bible for our CMS consulting practice. We've used The Web CMS Research both to get a jump on understanding products in advance of a formal CMS selection, as well as to start the conversation about potential partnerships. It's also great when a client asks you about an obscure product -- and you can get back to them within an hour with a grounded, thoughtful appraisal of the product, knowing that the information is accurate and written by analysts with real perspective."

John Berndt, President and CEO, The Berndt Group, Ltd.

Other Web Content & Experience Management posts

Tech Selection Tip #3: Setting the Right Business Foundations

  • May 22, 2017

Take a clear approach to decision-making to keep the process moving and ensure that decisions reflect broader enterprise priorities. You also want to ensure you have an accurate picture of enterprise maturity and capabilities to incorporate new digital capabilities....

Updates to WCM Vendor Reviews

  • May 19, 2017

Major forces are buffeting the Web Content & Experience Management (WCM) marketplace, and key vendors and open source players are tacking in different directions in response. Some are expanding the scope of functionality, others are narrowing their focus, while others simply sail on like it's still the good old days....

Selection Tip #2 - Build the Right Team

  • May 16, 2017

The main point here is that people with different expertise and responsibilities should have input into the process, although a business leader ultimately drives the decision-making with significant IT input....