It takes stones the size of King Kong to point your guns in the direction of Microsoft, but I believe that is exactly what Salesforce did yesterday when they announced Chatter Freemium.
Of course, Marc Benioff has some big stones. He took on Siebel and kicked their ass pretty good and they, at one point, were the big ape on the block.
First of all, when you choose a competitor, you don’t pick the smallest, newest kid on the block, which is what Yammer is. You pick the biggest, baddest mo-fo around, and in the case of collaboration software, it is SharePoint (see Behind the Cloud on how SFDC picks competitors). Not only is SharePoint the biggest and baddest (worst?), but it is also the antithesis of what Salesforce is all about. SharePoint is big, clunky software that is hard to install, expensive to manage, impossible to keep current and no one likes it.
Here is the real issue – everyone bitches about adoption of SharePoint. Everyone knows that no one uses it because it is a nightmare. CIO magazine writes:
80 percent of respondents with SharePoint access continue e-mailing documents back and forth, even though SharePoint software was designed to prevent this clunky process.
That is embarassing, but MSFT doesn’t care because they either give a huge discount because their customers are on an enterprise license or they promise the world and that it will all be fixed in the next point release.
You know what doesn’t have an adoption problem? Salesforce. Most companies say “hey, if you want to get paid, you have to use Salesforce”. They say it to the sales team, the marketing team & the support team. It is an easy way to encourage adoption. If your opportunity isn’t in Salesforce, you won’t get paid on it. If your working a case and you want to get paid, make sure it is in Salesforce. Try that with SharePoint and you’ll have a mutiny on your hands.
Added bonus – once you get those teams on board, teams like Finance, who need to see that the deals are there and Product, who need to help with support all fall in line and use the system too.
No adoption problems there. Where you do have a problem is in things like finding people, having a quick conversation, editing a proposal or building a team to work on an RFI. These are all business processes that would have historically happened in SharePoint, but along comes Chatter, which does, per TechCrunch:
- Status Updates
- Real-Time Feeds
- File Sharing
- Chatter Mobile
- Chatter Desktop
To me, that sounds an awful lot like what SharePoint has done in the past with more social functionality than SP2010 has to offer, plus faster development cycles and a more supportive development channel.
While I’m not predicting the immenent demise of SharePoint, I do believe that SFDC has a great opportunity to strike a massive blow to an important piece of the MSFT picture.
Am I crazy? Is this right on? Let me know your thoughts in the comments and tell me what you think.