Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cloud CRM – a definition

CloudCRM Cloud Computing is replacing SOA as the buzzword in 2009. I spent some thoughts on how this will influence CRM 2.0 in technical and business terms.

SalesForce.com is currently heavily pushing their “Service Cloud” solution, which is a little misleading in its naming I believe. The Service Cloud is not exposing any services into the cloud but utilizing some public APIs from platforms like Facebook or Google.

This is adding new channels to the contact center (and such enhancing the customer experience) and feeding solutions from customers back into the knowledge base – good thing - but what really has all this to do with Cloud Computing? My opinion… nothing!
Maybe this is just a way to get something out of the buzzword and sell new contact channels as a brand new product?!

Their example of Orange and Plantronics is nice to view, but what happens if I am not a SFDC customer? The SalesForce to SalesForce interface is (like all the others) a Point-to-Point integration and not even based on any standards like Web-Services, I believe (correct me if I’m wrong).

Having said this, what is my vision of ‘real’ Cloud CRM then?
For me, Cloud Computing means that I (as a user) do not know where the processing power or storage resides physically. In contrast Software as a Service (SaaS) is a piece of software that is running for a dedicated user at a known location (I count the url “www.salesforce.com” as a known location…).
Now if we use standards to communicate with the services in the cloud, this would make them pretty much completely exchangeable. Of course this is not a good thing for the vendors of these services and hence Amazon, Microsoft and Force.com introduced their own proprietary structures and interfaces.

In an ideal world – and we are far away from that, yet – all vendors would agree on one open standard and the consumers (i.e. users) would have the choice to dynamically exchange and combine services from the cloud to create their individual CRM platform that perfectly scales and performs as required. But how would ISVs feel if their customers had a zero vendor-lock-in? If they could exchange the CRM service with a couple of mouse clicks and the new service would still integrate seamlessly to their ERP or OSS?     Maybe then even the producers of CRM software will have to think about a CRM 2.0 strategy… (I like that idea)

Ok, stop dreaming now! We are in 2009, facing global recession and I am delighted to see that SFDC is integrating to social platforms like Facebook (more to come I suppose) and help companies that are looking to implement a CRM 2.0 strategy by giving them the right tools to execute such a vision. The IdeaExchange functionality is a good (though proprietary) starting point to gather feedback from customers and get the involved – a first step to collaboration and co-creation.

There is a long way to go until Cloud CRM becomes reality. Standards have to evolve, security has to be ensured and SLAs have to be controllable. SaaS is (only) a first step into this direction.


  1. Good post. Totally agree that the success of the cloud will be based on open data standards for customers (accounts, companies and people). Like to hear some of your thoughts on sharing, permission, archiving, retrieval and privacy too. @robtyrie

  2. Hi Rob,
    thanks for the comment. I plan to go into the details in my thesis (when I'm arriving at this chapter) and will post the results here then - stay tuned.
    One (additional) critical aspect of Cloud CRM is fraud. I am sure it is only a matter of time until the first DoS attacks will be run on such services or data will be stolen or manipulated. That might alienate many customers and make them stay away form this concept... just some thoughts, more to come...


  3. Read this article Guido. It addresses a number of your statements

    http://www.tradingmarkets.com/.site/news/Stock News/2145237/ Datamonitor's perspective on the salesforce.com Service Cloud vision

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