4.20.2006

Exactly my point...

One of the comments to my last post pointed me to http://itredux.com/blog/office-20/my-office-20-setup - Very cool stuff. Essentially Ismael is trying to do everything in a browser that's typically relied upon on with desktop applications.

Of course, it's great to see salesforce.com in categories like "database" - but look at all the alternatives. This, coupled with the StarOffices and Apples of the world, does seem to suggest that Microsoft had better wake up. With all of these options...and hopefully with clear winners in the pack coming out - and the appropriate consolidations and buyouts, Microsoft has some worrying to do.

And I did read that article about the "calm before the storm" of Microsoft... that Microsoft has some master strategy plan of dominating this whole thing before it gets too far ahead... But the fact of the matter is that's too late, in this completely biased blogger's opinion. Too many smaller companies being run by very smart people are too hungry to let that happen. A PM at Microsoft isn't nearly as hungry as the guy who can't feed his family if his brilliant web application fails. We'll see how it all pans out in the end. I think it's too big of pie for Microsoft to fully digest at this point. Will they come out with something to compete? Yes. But with so many alternatives and (hopefully) having them all standardize on formats, I don't feel compelled to use the products like I did in the 90s.

My next post will have nothing to do with Microsoft (if I can help it).

5 Comments:

Blogger Jon Wilson said...

The referenced Office 2.0 setup is clever and geeky but not practical at all right now. Each web app stores personal files in completely different ways and locations. Each app requires different methods of access and authentication. Most apps cannot interact with eachother. And, the elephant in the room, what in the hell do you do when there is no internet connectivity? I see this as being a horribly handicapped way of using a computer and the only reason it is interesting is because it has "geek cred".

That being said, I'm sure there will be a solution on the horizon (if the web 2.0 community can agree on some standards).

- Storage: Hard drive storage that synchs to online storage which is fully accessible by standard APIs.

- Access and Authentication: Would probably require some kind of universal login (I didn't say Passport!).

- App Interaction: Every app would need to be able to access the centralized online storage, be able to authenticate against a universal login, and be accessed through a standard API.

- Offline: Every app would need to make its code available so that they could all run on virtual servers on the laptop when no connectivity is present. Then, when the laptop is connected the offline storage would synch the files to the online storage and the offline apps would synch any config changes to the online apps.


So, we have a long long long way to go for all that to happen and happen well.

4/20/2006 10:01 AM  
Blogger Omega said...

You're dead on accurate.

They're overcomeable issues though - as you suggest. And that's what gets me excited about it - and, frankly, being at salesforce.com. There seems to be a growing movement in the organization to help solve these problems.

Are we the end all be all white knight that can do this? No. But I think we can make some tools and offerings available to help us down this path.

Marc has said a few times that he wants salesforce.com to be the on demand platform of the "business web". We're not there yet - by any stretch of the imagination. But of the companies that are out there I'd say there are only 3 or 4 that are positioned to do this. Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and salesforce.com (admittedly, we're the smallest fish in the pond). The nice thing about where we're at is that we've actually got a number of the mechanisms in place to solve the problems you mentioned...
General storage for all (we've got one of the biggest online user modifiable databases out there). General means of Access and Authentication (399k+ users today and able to handle way more than that). App Interaction (Fundementally what the AppExchange (www.appexchange) is all about. Room for improvement, but taking the right steps). Offline...(Certainly the trickiest of the bunch...but we're thinking about that too. We've already got our offline edition bringing down custom tables - but your point is taken around the custom code).

I'm not saying we're even close to solving these problems to an acceptable degree - but it's nice to know that there's at least a multi billion dollar company focusing on solving these types of problems. The first one that does takes down our MS big brother.

Google's obviously doing a lot of this as well... Writely, Calendar, Gmail, etc. etc. They're still consumer focused but that's bound to change over time (as evident of their recent enterprise initiatives mentioned a few days ago which included some collaboration with sfdc). I might even say they're better positioned than we are. Frankly I'm in favor of either of us doing it. The main point is that it has to be done.

Ultimately I could see google solving this at the consumer level and salesforce.com solving this at the enterprise level. Again, I admit I'm biased and deep down I know google can do both... But they're very busy solving the consumer challenges and we're focusing entirely on the business challenges. Maybe we'll meet somewhere in the middle...

Giving business users an honest to goodness viable choice other than Microsoft that doesn't impact productivity is what gets me going... I'm doing what I can do at salesforce.com to make that happen. Sticking to standards, staying friends with our fellow on-demand partners, and always keeping the end user in mind is the path to get there.

4/20/2006 10:40 AM  
Anonymous Ismael Ghalimi said...

Some of Office 2.0 bugs you've identified are listed and discussed there:

http://itredux.com/blog/2006/01/27/office-20-bug-tracker/

4/21/2006 7:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that MS has nowhere to go but down, but I warn you against overestimating the desire of the average computer user for change.

If you look at the reality of business on the ground, what you see is that by and large businesses don't need to be highly mobile and connected. And even if a percentage of documents need portability, there are a number of cost effective solutions already out there for making them portable that don't involve storing everything on a remote server. Hell, a $25 USB chip will allow you to haul pretty much anything you want down the hall or over to the next building for a meeting.

4/21/2006 10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SFDC is doing some great things. And having competed against them during my time at SEBL, I can attest to the quality of their product and their competitive toughness. It's clear Omega is inspired to work there and that's always great to see!

But does anyone else see the irony in Benioff's SEBL-bashing given the similarities between the two companies? Meteoric stock appreciation, hard-charging sales culture, significant emphasis on customization and feature/function, and a pretty arrogant culture embodied in the form of a brash CEO. In fact, there are now a bunch of SEBL folks over at SFDC at all levels of the company.

Don't forget that SEBL too for years emphasized its focus on customer satisfaction. And SEBL enjoyed a long run during which it's biggest rivals (the suite vendors ORCL & SAP) struggled to gain any discernible traction. Those suite vendors, by the way, are still in business and SEBL is not. Beware the praise of analysts -- many were gushing over SEBL at $120/share!

As far as destroying MSFT is concerned, let's keep things in perspective. 7 years into it SFDC has 400,000 users compared to about 10 million for Office. SFDC's average deployment is 399K/20,500 = < 20 users. You've got some great initial customer wins, but 7 years into it SEBL had much better stats in terms of revenue, # customers and average deployment size, and they were a multibillion dollar company too, but they hit the wall.

Any time a bunch of companies are pounding away for *several years* at a "market" they deem to be only 5-10% penetrated, you have to wonder if that market really exists, or at least is anywhere near the size they claim. I think for many companies, slightly beefed up contact management is all they really need. MSFT or maybe GOOG, whether or not their PM's are "hungry," are well positioned for those types, which appear to be 90% of the market.

The platform play is good. But the higher you go up market in enterprise software, the more people want solutions, not building blocks. I would watch out for ORCL. Ellison obviously buys into hosted with Oracle Outsourcing, majority ownership of NetSuite and seed investment in SFDC. Now he owns Siebel CRM OnDemand. He has a proven track record taking out his former proteges (Siebel, Conway). He loves to compete. And in terms of a platform, tons of enterprise customers already know & like ORCL tools. And by the way, your service runs on his databases.

It will certainly be interesting watching it play out. It looks like the battle may truly benefit lots of customers. Maybe its sour grapes on my part, but I find it surprising how much mileage SFDC has gotten to date.

I thought the web originated as a robust military communications mechanism where info could make it from Point A to Point B even if one or several communications lines were down. Yet more irony with SFDC's "business web" facing significant service disruptions.

4/21/2006 1:40 PM  

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