PJ: I understand the value of Social Enterprise License Agreement (SELA): unlimited usage of all salesforce.com’s products with predictable costs as the goal. Still, isn’t this bringing you back closer to the on-premises practices, where you might not feel quite at home? In other words, these “all you can eat” arrangements have been the province of old-school vendors, which then results with "shelfware" or unused software. How will salesforce.com preempt those bad practices of the past?
SFDC: The net of it is that we’re not trying to force this on our customers (on-premises vendors typically used these things to allow CIOs to escape end-of-contract audit issues), but we’re offering this in response to our customers asking us for a simpler way to buy all of these new products. Trying to figure out how many so-called dynos you’ll need (a dyno is a single process of any type running on the Heroku platform) or how many topic profiles (in Radian6) all while you are trying to negotiate a purchase of customer relationship management (CRM) sales users is difficult.
So we say, use what you want and then we’ll right-size the pricing in the future based upon what you use. If you don’t like it, we’ll just turn the licenses off in the future after the contract expires. The principal aspect of the SELA is the customer “KNOWS” at any point what they are using from their central admin screen, which is a significant difference from an on premises perpetual license world where anyone could download the software and then at the end of the contract there was the dreaded audit.
PJ: When should one use Force.com (on the Apex code), Heroku Ruby, and Heroku for Java platforms? Are there any guidelines and demarcation lines provided by salesforce.com? In other words, if Heroku is designated by salesforce.com for creating customer (external) social networks, where does Radian6 fit?
SFDC: Force.com is optimized for employee applications--if the requirements of the application fit the characteristics of force.com (as most employee-focused applications will) then force.com is the right choice. For its part, Heroku is the perfect platform for building customer facing social applications because these applications need to be uniquely designed for a particular customer use case and goal.
Radian6 allows companies to monitor and engage with customers through social channels but it is not a development platform. A logical use case would be for a customer to build a customer facing social application on Heroku to achieve a specific goal and then use Radian6 to monitor and measure the impact of that application.
PJ: In light of touch.salesforce.com, your mobile offering, aren’t you worried about HTML5’s maturity as an agnostic mobile platform?
SFDC: We view HTML5 as the unification of various technologies designed to construct highly interactive Web applications. The specification is mature enough in its current state with clean implementations of modules important to the touch.salesforce.com project.
To that end, CSS3 (Cascading Style Sheets) enable advanced layouts with pixel perfect control. The spec makes it possible to render appropriately sized pages for the various form factors such as smartphones with small screens and tablets with various screen configurations--independent of the resolution. In the latest iteration of Apple iOS, transition properties used for scrolling, animation, and movement are now hardware accelerated, generating smooth interactions that can rival native applications.
Moreover, HTML5 Forms provide support for meaningful fields with semantic markup. For example, by adding a numeric attribute, an input field will not allow entry of alpha characters and will bring up the numeric virtual keyboard on a touch device, while an e-mail field will add the “@” and “.com” virtual buttons.
For these reasons, we are confident that HTML5 puts us on the right path for the future. A lot of these features can be demonstrated on request.
PJ: How do you feel about succumbing to the need for private clouds within the Database.com Data Residency Option (DRO), given your longstanding advocacy of public clouds?
SFDC: We recognize that large enterprises have regulatory and security requirements that potentially prevent them from taking full advantage of our cloud computing model. The DRO offering will make it possible for enterprises to move applications with highly specialized data residency requirements to our cloud computing platform. Our position is still that private cloud offerings are not really cloud computing and the DRO offering makes a stronger case for our cloud computing model.
PJ: Has Salesforce Chatter finally been opened to behind the firewall via Chatter Connect and Chatter Customer Groups? If so, what about data sensitivity and privacy issues here (i.e., what has changed in the meantime)?
SFDC: With Chatter Customer Groups, organizations using Chatter can create groups to share information, files, and updates with users outside of their firewall. This is an ideal solution for sales reps collaborating with prospects and customers, but can also be used for marketing teams to collaborate with agencies and contractors and other use cases requiring cross-company collaboration.
The feature has been designed to ensure the security of internal only information. “Guest users” from outside the hosting company can only see information inside the group to which they are invited – they cannot see any of the broader information in Chatter outside the groups in which they participate. Also, the user interface (UI) clearly signals to internal users when they are sharing information that will be accessible to “guest users”.
PJ: There was a brief mention of “collaborative forecasting” in Marc’s keynote, but no elaboration. Can you please elaborate on the concept here, and describe in which product it will be done?
SFDC: With the Winter 12 release of the Sales Cloud 2 (available in October 2011), salesforce.com has rebuilt our forecasting engine from the ground up with an all-new collaborative forecast tool. The new interactive UI now allows you to see your entire team's forecast at a glance, with complete details of each rep's deals and an accurate rollup in real time. As you expand and collapse different time periods, you can expose the related opportunities by rep, and can quickly drill in for more details.
Of course applying management insight is also key to an accurate forecast, and with Collaborative Forecasts you can improve the forecast by applying judgment to your team's forecast, with tracking of your adjustments and overrides, so you keep full visibility. Current features in the Winter 12 release include in-line editing, automatic calculations (no need to submit), override visibility, multi-currency, and custom forecast categories (see Figure 1).
PJ: Data.com, how is that substantially different from former Jigsaw, or it is just a change in name only?
SFDC: Data.com is not a rebranding of Jigsaw, but will be the premier source of business data, unified within Salesforce CRM. The new data offering will provide easy access to real-time data through a variety of sources, including Jigsaw for individual contact information and Dunn & Bradstreet (D&B) for company information. Data.com will be the exclusive provider of company information from D&B directly within Salesforce CRM, giving salesforce.com’s over 100,000 customers access to D&B information on 200 million companies.
This announcement signify salesforce.com’s vision of unifying the best-of-breed information sources under Data.com. That means company, contact, social, and other business data are now unified in Data.com and accessible through the cloud. Now, sales and marketing professionals have the information they need to effectively plan, target, and execute sales and marketing campaigns - all within Salesforce.
PJ: Where at salesforce.com are Sitemasher, Activa Live, Etacts, DimDim, and Manymoon? What are their names and purposes now?
SFDC: Activa Live has been rolled into the Service Cloud 3 and continues to do so. DimDim is a key part of Chatter (presence, instant messenger [IM], etc.). Sitemasher can logically be anticipated as one component of siteforce.
Manymoon--we will have announcements forthcoming, but look at the Google Web Store to speculate on its direction. Google has been very busy developing technology for us. Etacts is part of our build out of the contact profile and will be pervasive through salesforce.com. At the end of the day, all of these products are being integrated fully into salesforce.com.
PJ: As said in my preamble, there has been a good uptake of partner solutions on Force.com (PROSPricing, Ariba, BigMachines, Concur, etc.). Do you really need to create confusion with Heroku, WMForce, etc.?
SFDC: We have seen tremendous adoption and success with partners building applications on Force.com and listing them on the AppExchange but we are also constantly listening to our customers and partners and evolving our offerings to meet their needs. The new platform offerings are not creating confusion for partners - they are giving them choices, rather. Partners are incredibly excited about these new offerings and we believe they will lead to more and better partner applications that will ultimately make our partners and customers more successful.
With VMforce and Heroku for Java, ISVs who have invested in Java can build cloud applications that run on Heroku and are architected to store data in database.com. Our strategy is to build an open cloud platform that between force.com, Heroku, and Database.com gives developers and ISVs the tools they need to build any application they want to build.
PJ: Chatter for Service, why only now? In other words, doesn’t social technology lends itself well to customer service scenarios?
SFDC: Yes we agree--social paradigms such as the feeds, comments, sharing, follows, and likes lend themselves very well to customer service scenarios. In the past, self-service customers have had to waste too much valuable time hunting for answers on portals and websites, i.e., Maybe it’s in the Knowledge base? Maybe it’s in the Community? And if it isn’t there, they need to log a ticket.
We’ve taken what we’ve learned from Chatter and applied it to the self-service experience, making it as easy and as social to use as Facebook. With Chatter Service, customers can ask their question ONCE and the answer comes to them! Whether it’s in the Knowledge base, or the community, or from a customer service agent.
If the answer doesn’t already exist, you can ask the community of experts, or decide to get help directly from a service agent. And a case gets created in the queue for a service agent to handle. All of these different interactions happen in a single, social feed--eliminating the guessing game and getting customers the answers they need quickly.