On January 6th, 2011 SalesForce.com (SFDC) purchased the web conferencing company DimDim for $31 million dollars. The strategy is to incorporate web conferencing within Chatter Premium Edition, SFDC’s social networking platform embedded within SFDC cloud-based CRM solution.
Chatter is fast becoming a major player in the social business space, and SFDC is uniquely positioned to capture huge portions of this market. In December 2010, SFDC released a “Free” version of Chatter, that does not require a full SFDC license. In today’s enterprises, many of the senior leadership are wary of Social Networking within the firewall, and SFDC already has a cozy relationship via their CRM platform.. This existing relationship could allow SFDC to convince C-Level executives that only SFDC has the ability to safely and securely introduce the positive power of Social Networking in a controlled manner within the company without any additional investment. Then when the employees demand more Social Capabilities, simply upgrading the free Chatter to the premium Chatter is a very natural evolution.
Now comes the purchase of a web conferencing platform to integrate with Chatter.
Brilliant move on their part for several reasons.
First, it gives them a key collaborative feature not in any top enterprise social networking platform, such as JIVE, Lotus Connections, or SharePoint. Cisco’s Quad and Novell’s Vibe have web conferencing, but they are nowhere as prevalent in Enterprises as those top three players. This means Chatter MUST now be thought of as a top player in this space, and given serious consideration for employee-engagement Social platforms.
Second, it will be a way to co-opt existing web conferencing contracts many companies have with WebEx, Microsoft’s LiveMeeting, GoToMyPC, by linking a key collaboration function every company leverages…web conferencing. I imagine SFDC offering web conferencing services embedded within Chatter premium edition which would save hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars for large enterprises.
Thirdly, it provides another positive step for enterprises to look towards moving other collaboration services to the cloud, of which SFDC could provide in the future. It begins to show how Collaboration, and Social Collaboration can be linked with a companies CRM for true “closeness” in customer engagement. If a company decided to go with Google Apps Premier Edition, which already tightly integrates with SFDC, and can now provide vast collaboration functionality to knowledge workers via the cloud.
Fourthly, CIO’s want to simplify their portfolios, and now they can combine the Social Networking and Web Conferencing with a trusted vendor. Rationalization of enterprise applications has been a big effort for CIO for the past 2 years, and as I mentioned above, this move helps ease the fear of new enterprise capabilities, yet does not put another vendor into the fray, which drives up costs.
I can easily see a situation where a company can now leverage Chatter (free version) to introduce Social Networking into its customer’s environments. Then move to the premium version of Chatter and get to leverage global web conferencing for everyone in the company, as they collaboration and leverage the social-ness of communities, profiles, and customer-engagement.
Well Done SFDC, Well Done!