I recently read this piece regarding the launch of HP’s new Unison program, a big part of which is their new partner portal. Like many other technology companies they chose to build it on Salesforce.com.
One extract from this article struck me above all else …. 300 developers, 18 months, and $100m dollars no less!!!
Originally touted as the ‘end of Software’, and the appealing alternative to massive ERP style implementations, there is a certain irony to hear these kinds of numbers.
I had a real sense of déjà vu going back a decade to my early industry experiences...
The SAP years
Back then large enterprises were investing incredible amounts of money on major SAP implementations. At the time my company (then known as VLI) was providing a range of bespoke tools and solutions to large enterprises working with complex partner communities.
Along would come highly paid consultants and internal implementation teams claiming that SAP would provide the solution to everything and that the tools we were providing would be redundant as a result.
The reality? SAP generally failed to meet the specialist requirements of the Partner Communities and some of the systems we built back then are still around today.
The Salesforce years
Now let’s rewind 6 or 7 years - the beginning of the Salesforce.com movement.
The same consultants have now decided that agile development is the future and Salesforce will provide the answer to all the problems.
Today? After huge investments (and significant bespoke development) companies have customized Salesforce to levels that were unthinkable under a ‘no software’ banner. Partner facing systems are still ineffective. Some of the systems we built more than ten years ago are still in use.
See the pattern?
So maybe HP have done better than most to launch something they are proud of and that their partners seem to like. But if the only way to ensure success is to invest this amount of time and money (in an erawhere everything dates quickly) the decision to build everything on Salesforce surely needs closer scrutiny.
Yet we see this again and again. Virtually all the major technology vendors I know are drinking the Salesforce kool-aid. Spending enormous sums of money and investing monumental development energy trying to create the nirvana we hear about at Dreamforce (only to be told the product they just used is now obsolete in favor of a new platform Salesforce just acquired).
Don’t misunderstand me. Salesforce has some great technology and is a very important part of the Enterprise landscape. But it is not the answer to everything. The companies who will succeed need to think about the solution they want to provide, not the technology they want to use, and then make decisions based on this.
And if you want to deploy a peerless partner experience in 3 months, with no developers, for an awful lot less than $100 million you might want to give Webinfinity a call :)