Occasionally I stumble upon polarizing issues, and then promptly beat them into submission on this blog. I’ve got some pet peeves (yes, I have stupidpeopleitis… therapy helps… a little…), and some easy targets (outages), and whatnot. I didn’t start this blog as a popularity contest… I’m quote happy being a ‘behind-the-scenes’ guy. Hard to believe, I know…. In the last few weeks I’ve been getting more and more emails and I was perusing some interesting ideas over on the idea exchange earlier today and it all came together:
If Salesforce.com is selling Customer Relationship Management software (it’s core business by any definition) they why do they constantly hinder the users efforts to maintain a good (clean) relationship by ‘branding’ all over the place?
Case in point - if you’re a Bandwidth.com customer, do you really care if Bandwidth.com uses Salesforce.com? Do you care of Cisco does? Does their use of Salesforce.com make Cisco’s routers more stable, Bandwidth.com’s VoIP service sound clearer? Should the fact that your company uses Salesforce.com change the way your customer should interact with you? For example:
Your product is crap!
Sorry you feel that way
— Powered by Salesforce.com —
Oh, you use Salesforce.com. I guess it’s ok thet your product set my house on fire, threw me off a balcony, and made me fall into a vat of acid. Sorry to bother you.
As you can see - it makes all the difference.
Salesforce.com: Is it really so hard to let your customers manage their relationships without throwing your name all over it? Back when you used (still use?) Sun servers all over your datacenter, Sun didn’t throw some branding message at the bottom of every email your sales people sent out… Why should you do that now?
If you want to talk about Software as a Service look for a moment at most hosting companies that rent servers (yes, Hardware as a Service, but I digress). You won’t find any one of the major players meddling in how their customers serve up webpages, emails, or most anything else on those servers, so why do you?
It’s time to take the SaaS model back to the ol’ OEM whitebox days. You got a network card in a white box with some random chip on it and there was no obvious branding, no flashy logos, you didn’t care who made it — it just worked. In many case you’d have to dig to find the manufacturer. SaaS should be no different.]]>
Just a quick update on my previous posts regarding obnxious advertising in the SFDC UI….
Fifedog has submitted a request to the Salesforce.com “Ideas” site entitled Be Gone Sawbanners Please Ge Gone. Those of you who think that advertising to your users on a service you pay for should be opt-in, not opt-out please hop over and promote the idea.
If users whine to their admins, and SFDC never hears it… did it really happen?
Hot on the heels of the AppExchange intrusive ad is a brand new “Unlimited Edition” advert… Same thing, same obnxious locaiton, new code to disable it:
For instructions on how to use this code, please see my original post on the topic.
As I previously covered in my “Dare to Dream” blog entry I outlined a scoring system for the Winter ‘07 release. Now that Dreamforce has passed, and hopefully those at Salesforce.com are well into the post-Dreamforce recovery period we can take a look ahead into the new release. Scott Hemmeter over at Arrowpointe wrote a nice summary of the announced features over on his blog.
I’ve taken most of the publically available information and added it to my scoring spreadsheet, available as a PDF: Winter ‘07 Preliminary Release Scoring
Please note that I’ve generally erred toward a higher score, with a few exceptions, and I have not gone through my list of bugs yet. It would be premature to speculate as to what they may, or may not, have fixed until it is finally released. As the release approaches I will post my excel spreadsheet so that everyone can score the release for themselves.]]>
OMFG - If I read one more blog entry this week that has a link to the ‘Apex isn’t vendor lock-in’ blog post I’m gonna hurl. But first….
I gotta give some kudos to Marc (it’s with a “c” guys, not a “k”) and the Marketing Team over at SFDC. The aggregate hype and spin that was spewing forth from this years Dreamforce was nothing short of, Salesforce-esque. In one move you announced your most important announcement ever (so far), completely overshadowed the next release, and hyped a feature that won’t go into beta until 2007. But what really impresses me (and I’m actually not being sarcastic - in this sentence) is the number of press pundits, bloggers, and tech writers who have completely missed the boat and tied Apex solely to the Winter ‘07 release.
I’ll be accepting donations of antacids and valium sent to….
I spent a total of 6 hours last week talking to clients, prospective, current, and former, about Apex. Every single one wanted to know when Winter ‘07 was going to be released so they could start using Apex. Then I start seeing this “Vendor Lock-In” comment and blog entry poping up left right and center like I mistyped a domain name or something.
I don’t really know when we all became so accepting and/or jaded in what we see and how we see it but I’ll be short and direct with this:
Damn dear every product has some sort of vendor lock-in. Where can you take your integration with any software package and without having to change it in some way get it to run with another. My point is this - I can’t copy/paste Apex script and get it to run in SAP, Oracle CRM, Peoplesoft, etc. Even if SFDC used pure 100% Java, you’ll still have to screw with it. Data formats change, APIs are different.
Every vendor has some degree of lock-in, the question is can you justify the PITA factor of switching for the savings/functionality gain/loss? It’s a balance question, not a yes or no. Apex is a lock-in, just as the SFDC API is a lock-in, just as you get locked-in if you have to convert your data to put it into SFDC — you were locked-in to the old format/vendor.
If SFDC wants to claim no lock-in (not that I believe this claim is from them in the first place) submit your API / scripting language as an open standard so we can make our code portable between services. You’ll also gain the approval of a standards body and probibly get sone great improvments out of the process too.
Now that’s throwing down the gauntlet.]]>
Now I know I said I wouldn’t be blogging anything Dreamforce-specific, but I think you’ll forgive me a bit.
So the cat’s out of the bag finally on Apex. It’s a really cool hybrid language that allows us to run code on the salesforce.com server. No more back and forth with the API for alot of stuff. It’s an aweful lot like Java in many respects, but I think I see a hint of Python in there as well. (Why we need another full-blown language aside — couldn’t we just have used Java?)
I haven’t yet been able to get hands-on with it yet, but its features seem VERY cool. It even allows you to expose your code on the SFDC server thru the SFDC API.
In keeping up to date with my various RSS feeds I came across Dan Farber’s blog entry from today over at ZDNet.
I couldn’t attend Dreamforce this year, but I do have several collegues snapping photos and recoding video for me. They all confirmed the confrence hype of being the first to offer this. In fact the SFDC web page for Apex says, ” Apex is the first on demand programming language and platform….” That said, Dan Farber highlighted an email from Zach Nelson, CEO of NetSuite like so:
As Benioff was heading on stage, I received an email from Zach Nelson, CEO of salesforce.com competitor NetSuite, who took issue with the salesforce.com claim that it is creating the world’s first on-demand pogramming language and platform. “It’s a shameless lie. We introduced SuiteScript, the first on-demand programming language, six months ago, and its predecessor (NetSuite Custom Code) over a year ago,” Nelson said.
Whoops? Here’s the NetSuite page on SuiteScript, admittedly a bit barren on technical details, but I’m still excited about Apex and what it can do to help solve ALOT of issues with the SFDC platform. Then I read this last bit from Dan’s blog entry:
I talked to Adam Gross, vice president of developer marketing at salesforce.com, about the rollout of the Apex programming language. It goes into beta in 2007 and no idea when it will be out of beta.
Well #$%#. Nevermind.]]>
I’d be hard pressed to find a Salesforce customer who doesn’t know there’s 3 days until the start of Dreamforce now… You could barely miss the advertising — something akin to using a nuclear warhead to clear out a tree stump. If you want to meet me I won’t be at Dreamforce this year. My operatives will be in place, so I’ll pass along anything major that goes public. Me and 50 other blogs.
I haven’t been very deep ‘in the loop’ with this release like I normally try to be. It’s a culmination of a number of factors, but mostly I want to take a step back and really evalaute this release without all the inside information and getting caught up in the hype and anticipation. So in keeping with that idea I won’t be blogging anything dreamforce specific, however I do plan on scoring the new release.
Herein likes the fun. I’ve been kicking around a scoring-chart amoung some other SFDC admins and consultants for the last few days getting opinions on how I’m weighting things. Every time I kick it around I make so many changes it goes back out and around and around and around. So My plan is to publish my scoring rules and template over the weekend before the conference so everyone can score along at home (or at the keynote / hands-on). But the current system works something like this:
I will likely alter this system a bit before I settle on it. Your opinions are welcome.]]>
In my last post I basically ripped apart an SFDC AppExchange advertising campaign as being overly obtrusive and obnxcious.
Gareth Davies followed up with an excellent blog entry on his “Where’s the Upside?” blog. It’s a great read, and he raises some excellent points:
How can partners sell their new products to end-users? In the B2C market it’s easy. They guy using the product has the power to purchase and install it. No-one else is involved, in B2B that’s not the same.
If you haven’t read it, go take it for a read, well worth a few mintes of time.
I had a reply to his post I was going to place on his blog, until I realized just how long and varied it got and thought I’d express it here as well.
Gareth raises several good points, especially from the provider side of the equasion.First off, I don’t dispute that in order to make the AppExchange model work for vendors looking to turn a profit, keeping marketing and sales acquision costs low is extremely key.
The point I raise is that no matter if you are SFDC or the Red Cross looking for Katrina donations, obnxious impeading advertsing is going to annoy (some) people. That said…
I see the AppExchange as a grand experiment. No more, no less. I see the theory being tested here as: Can a sub-economy of SFDC tools survive in the on-demand market.
I don’t yet know how it will play out - but I do see some interesting things. First there’s a good number of free addons that are of good to high quality. This attracts admins to get some ideas, and users to poster their admins for stuff. and SFDC gets soem added marketing lines, all well and good. (Unless your the perster-ee)
There are also a number of reasonably priced add-ons that provide functionality far above and beyond the basic capabilities of the platform.
These segments I see growth in, first the free items because it’s in SFDC’s best intertest to _not_ have the AppExchange protraied as another enterprise cash-sinkhole, and 2nd to spur other development and ideas. The latter segment because it provides above-and-beyond functionality and a reasonable cost.
That leaves the two areas I see painted with bullseyes. The overpriced items and the for-cost extensions that only slightly to moderately enhance platform functionality.
Not to pick on them unduely, but I’ll use PartnerForce and the Email marketing addons as posterchildren for this argument.
PartnerForce is a multi-thousand-dollar addon to SFDC for managing your channel partners. The price tag alone ($1500/partner if I recall correctly) tends to price it out of reach of anything but a good sized enterprise. And in looking through the dirth of documentation — is what it does really worth that kind of spend?
Second are the various email mareting addons for SFDC. I see these as being very short term items on the AppExchange as I have to wonder just how long it will take the user base to realize that SFDC is imposing arbritary limits on Mass emails (built-in feature to the platform). Without that limitation (or significantly raised) how many customers would need these partner apps? What kind of load is it really to send a few thousand more emails a day per org (or a few hundred/user) when the SPAM rate on the internet is so high. One would think the email servers could handle it.
Lastly I wonder about the long-term viability of the AppExchange model for vendors. As a user I expect SFDC to add more and more features to the platform over time, as they have done in the past. As a developer I expect that my add-ons will continue to work and SFDC won’t take my ideas and implement like-functionality in the base platform. At what point do these paths cross in such a way as to drive the developers/vendors away? Look at the Sendia acquisition as a means to an end in this regard.]]>
I don’t know about most people but I tend to go quite a long way to block pop-up, pop-under, roll-in, roll-out, roll-over, auto-click, and other obtrusive, annoying kinds of advertising seen around the ‘net. I also don’t know quite when SFDC decided to put one on the home page after you log-in either…. I’m not one to stand for things that really annoy the living hell out of me, especially when they get in the way of clicking the too-often-used Setup link. (Admittedly I should Bookmark the thing but….) So instead of, well, raising my concerns with SFDC, I took matters into my own hands. Here’s the ad, read on to see how to disable it.
So I’ve got this client who is a customer of a company currently using Salesforce.com under the “Communications & Media” category. The services being provided to my client are more then over their heads so I’m acting as point of contact thru implementation. (Not an uncommon thing really.)
Unfortunately this has been one of those Murphy-like projects — if it can go wrong it will, and in the defense of the C&M company not all the problems have been their fault. But if I get one more SFDC-based email template from these guys I’m gonna flip my top.
Now going down the list, I don’t mind the ‘Welcome to XXXX’ email that we started with. Now they apparently open cases for their, ‘installations’ to track what needs to be done after you sign up. Ours wasn’t assigned until, really, after we had basically semi-turned-up service with them. Why? No idea. And it really doesn’t matter to me either. We had so many problems up through that point we were already dealing with the 3rd / 4th level of engineers, so it was moot as far as I was concerned.
Then I got the 2nd welcome email, sent when the install engineer was assigned, asking me for some information so they could turn on our service, this was over 2 months after the case was opened. Nevermind the service was, for all practial purposes, up and running. Now I can admit, having been the recipient of 100+ note cases/tickets in the past not wanting to read through all 100+ notes. But sending out requests to customers blind asking for information you already have just looks bad.
Now those of you who’ve read my prior blogs, or my posts on the SFDC forums know what happened next. I called him out on it. Now the response was especially interesting as he called it a ‘formality’ and that the information wasn’t in the case. So, mentially, I’m thinking, “lets add ‘not documenting cases’ to the list of problems…”. And we move on. (Yes I gave him the information in my first reply too, I’m not a complete ass. )
So 10 days later, still experienceing problems, and open issues galore I get another welcome email telling me our installation is “complete”. Now apparently the thing is it’s supposedly complete-enough to start billing. (That’s debateable, but really not an installation issue by any stretch.) The “complete” email is sent when billing starts. Now this installation has been, really, nothing but problem after problem after problem after problem, and to get an email saying it’s complete would infurate most people. It sure infurated my client when I sent it to him.
So that brings me to my thought for today….
Before you write an email template — or tell your users to use them, please make sure you know exactly how they are being used. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line — your users will not want to have to re-read every email going out to make sure it fits 100%. But the image your company gets when your user takes that shotcut can make you look like idiots. It’s the difference between being quality and being quick. People remember both.]]>