I just returned from Salesforce.com’s annual conference – Dreamforce, in San Francisco. Something like 15,000 people attended and the scale and hype were impressive. Marc Benioff launched the Collaboration Cloud with Salesforce.com’s next product, Chatter, which is essentially a Facebook-like collaboration application. I think it may have some opportunities inside an enterprise as a way to share information with your teams, but time will tell. As many observers have noted, the “cloud computing” hype has reached a near crescendo, which can only result in unmet expectations in the short term. It’s interesting though, when I mention the term to non-IT people, most of them have never heard the term. Even Salesforce.com is a company that a lot of people are unfamiliar with outside the technology sector.
Regardless, apart from the “Chatter” hype at the conference, there were a lot of incremental product announcements that should render the core Sales and Service applications even more useful. And I was impressed by the range of vendors marketing applications around the Salesforce.com eco-system. I’ve wondered about the consulting model around these products, as it doesn’t always seem practical to have the same sort of leverage that you could build a business around with typical Enterprise Applications (and pre ‘ERP’). But in talking to some of the large integrators in the US, it appears that it is much the same in the enterprise. Although configuration times are shorter and there is less IT infrastructure to worry about, that extra effort can be re-focussed in business process design, change management, and user adoption which traditionally got short-changed. This will be an area of emphasis at in the CLOUD