Salesforce.com introduces today the Salesforce.com Contact Edition and is approaching for the first time the small enterprise segment. This edition is basically an easy-to-use and simplified UI to a subset of SFDC’s existing CRM business logic. It is targeting small enterprise customers that are currently using, for example ACT (owned by SAGE), Goldmine, SOHO or others. The Contact Manager Edition comes with import and synchronization capabilities to the most common PIM systems like Outlook, Lotus and can also deal with CSV files.
Salesforce.com is going to market with an extremely aggressive pricing of only 9$ / months / user, but early users should read the terms and conditions carefully, the subscription runs for min. 12 months.
It not only offers similar features to the competitors in this space, the Contact Manager Edition also leverages the cloud computing paradigm. The application is operated as a SaaS application and all data stored at SFDC’s datacenter. And even more – new to the small enterprise segment – social network links such as linked-in, facebook and twitter are seamlessly integrated in the environment. Furthermore mash-up scenarios with Google applications are considered. All together an attractive mix of capabilities.
However, Salesforce.com is attacking this market segment for the first time and will face a couple of challenges:
- Sales Channels are different for small enterprises. Many large enterprise vendors such as SAP had to learn painfully, that sales in the small enterprise segment works totally different. A lot of local freelancer or one/two people IT shops help the small enterprises locally. SFDC has to learn from both successful small enterprise vendors like Intuit, and form SaaS channel experience such as Google’s App-Channel program.
- The Platform market momentum in small enterprises works different. While Salesforce.com is the market leader in Platform as a Service with their force.com platform, small businesses have totally different requirements and infrastructures. A personal cloud perspective could be an orchestration of traditional software, packages SaaS apps like their Contact Manager edition and specific extensions on a PaaS platform. However Salesforce.com is not leading, or even visible in this emerging PaaS market for small enterprises. Thus they have to partner and collaborate not only with Google’s apps, but also with PaaS vendors like Intuit.
- The competitive landscape is new to Salesforce.com. Back to start-up mode, SFDC might have to establish a new salesforce to approach this new market segment. Existing sales reps would always try to achieve their quota with large enterprise deals of a significant deal size. Only dedicated sales reps that know the local small business lobby, can help to turn this into a success.
- Small Enterprises and SMB/Large Enterprises are collaborating. One tenant in salesforce.com always runs in one specific edition. However, larger enterprises have subsidiaries, suppliers, or partners and like to convince them to run the “same” system. SFDC is currently missing the ability to turn some users only, or a subsidiary of one tenant into a simpler edition. The basic communication between SFDC tenants available today has much room for collaborative clouds across company size and organizational boundaries in the future.
Let me know if you subscribe to this new edition or you are considering to use it in one of your projects. I am curious about user and developer feedback.