Like other technology companies known to "acquire and forget," Salesforce.com needed five months to provide details for its SaaS-based entrance into the content management market, a foray originally announced back in April.An effort originally thought to be named ContentExchange has been rebranded Salesforce Content and is being touted "the world's first community-powered content management solution," whatever that means.
You have to respect Salesforce.com, if only for its track record in the CRM market, but what makes its Salesforce Content offering different from other SaaS-based content management solutions?
Salesforce.com hopes to answer that question by presenting the four most compelling features:
* Sharing Salesforce.com wants to strip away the complexity and stodginess traditionally associated with enterprise CMS. Following the example YouTube set for sharing video, Salesforce plans to help users share and manage everything, from documents to multimedia files. There's no denying the widespread popularity of YouTube, but does it make sense to compare the two vastly different user communities?
* Community Tagging While YouTube-like sharing may be a bit a of stretch, Salesforce.com may be onto something with community tagging. Based on the success of tagging in Flickr and "labels" in Gmail, Salesforce Content is betting that users don't need strict taxonomies and confusing multi-tier folder structures imposed on them (indeed, they can create them on their own). One has to wonder when or if a point of diminishing returns will be reached with a wide open tagging strategy.
* Community Ratings We have to say a simple "thumbs-up/thumbs-down" type rating system is of little value for most business documents, but here it is: an open door for the "anonymous coward," courtesy of the enterprise. It will be interesting to see how full-featured the rating system is when it becomes available.
* User Subscriptions The need to check one more inbox has hurt the rate of adoption for many content management systems. The increasing popularity of RSS, along with new versions of Outlook that natively consume feeds, make the ability to subscribe to feeds associated with documents, authors, workspaces, or topics extremely compelling. This could be the feature that defines the success of Salesforce Content.
While the above functionality set may be hit or miss, Salesforce's desire to leverage and expand on its dominance of the SaaS-based CRM market makes expansion into the CMS space a logical move.
The only remaining question is: When will it be available? Unfortunately, all we can tell you is that Salesforce Content should appear on the market in late '07.
For more information about Salesforce Content, please visit the website.
What is your take on this strategy? Is it risky or logical? Chime in with your thoughts in the comments section.
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