Is treading water?

Moderated by Lawrence Dignan | September 24, 2012 -- 07:00 GMT (00:00 PDT)

Summary: The company's momentum is undeniable. But what's under the covers of its expansive vision?

Dennis Howlett

Dennis Howlett




Phil Wainewright

Phil Wainewright

Best Argument: No


Audience Favored: No (50%)

Closing Statements

Treading water - or sinking?

Dennis Howlett

It is clear that despite Phil's valiant attempt at bloviating the Salesforce pitch, his evangelstic posture is way ahead of reality. That said, he makes occasional (although somewhat limp) points about aspects of offerings that are little more than vaporware on marketing steroids. If is treading water, one wonders whether it will be sinking under the weight of its acquisitioned melange of non-fitting technology in the coming year. We will see - but in the meantime, I know where I am placing my bets.

Trampling everything in its path

Phil Wainewright

There's one simple reason to vote 'no' in this debate: has become an unstoppable juggernaut that can't slow down. It's a latter-day Oracle, straight from the pages of Geoffrey Moore's classic Silicon Valley textbook, Crossing the Chasm. Back in the 1990s, Oracle's SQL database was hopelessly buggy, constantly behind schedule and suffered from dire customer support. Yet it had the momentum to succeed, simply because it was what the crowd was adopting, which meant it could afford to ignore the gripes of dissatisfied users and put-upon partners. Salesforce executives will know this story well, since many of them -- Benioff included -- earned their stripes at Oracle. Like it or loathe it, Salesforce is on a similar trajectory today: not so much treading water as trampling everything in its path. Vote 'No' or you're roadkill.

Debate is a snapshot in time

Lawrence Dignan

The most interesting part of this debate was the ZDNet community's vote, which was basically split down the middle.

Another thing to keep in mind here is that this debate on Salesforce is a snapshot in time. Given that Salesforce is coming off what I'd call an incremental customer conference, the treading water argument is obvious.

Phil made his points well, as did Dennis. In the end, Phil won the argument that Salesforce is pushing the enterprise forward. However, a year from now this debate could look different. In other words, Salesforce may be at the beginning of a treading water phase, but it's too early to tell.

Phil wins by a very slim margin.


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  • Not really gonna join this conversation.

    Not really gonna join this conversation.

    Never used them, don't know anybody who does, to be honest.
    Reply Vote I'm Undecided
    • Seriously CobraA1????

      I'd like to see the rock you're under. Their market share in CRM is huge. If you talk to anybody who has been in sales, they have at least heard of SalesForce, if not have used it themselves.
      Reply Vote I'm Undecided
      • I'm not in sales.

        "I'd like to see the rock you're under."

        No "rock." I'm just not in sales.
        Reply 1 Vote I'm Undecided
  • add?

    is this an add ?
    Reply Vote I'm Undecided
    • Meh, they've talked about salesforce for a while.

      "is this an add ?"

      I'll assume you mean "ad" (advertisement), not "add" (addition). Try to pay attention to spelling, please. The spell checker doesn't catch everything.

      Regardless of whether it really deserved the attention, it's been one of ZDNet's favorite companies to discuss for a really long time. This is really nothing new.

      So - I'd say not any more than they've done in the past.
      Reply 1 Vote I'm Undecided
  • Single talk point as valuation, is it more dangerous?

    Salesforce has been pushing the social platform before the business market was ready to catch up. As technical CRM\BI admin\ architect as well as a user that has never worked for SF, I believe that the folks tend to over react after a Dreamforce event and take Salesforce's future messages to seriously. I am voting no because of all of the features that will actually get delivered to the users in the near future will be more advanced and user friendly than any average CRM out there. In the technical community, we worry so much about under the hood that we tend to forget the users. I think this debate should be open to folks who uses the tool to generate their income everyday. We depend on Salesforce social platform to communicate every day and are looking into using it to brand our company. The users are looking forward to the mobile platform that SF has announced since last DF. So, can they meet the growth expectation? Only time will tell but my vote is no, they are not treading water. Social enterprise has been their theme for 3 years now, so I don't believe a product who tries to mature their product is necessary treading water. Please do not correct my spelling errors and or other opinions that does not pertain to the debate. Get over the fact the workforce is getting younger and can no longer spell. And no, I am not one of the young ones but am willing to adopt and change instead of staying in the time I felt more comfortable with 20 years ago.
    Reply Vote I'm for No
  • It's good... for small things

    I've been working with this platform or whatever they call it nowadays for half a year.
    They do put a lot of emphasis in marketing, self promotion, but most of their tools are flawed or poorly documented. The simple things are good enough, the rest is just glitter.
    Reply 1 Vote I'm for Yes
  • It may be hype, but it's brilliant hype

    Full disclosure, I'm not a fan. Even more full disclosure, Benioff is a billionaire sw developer and I'm not. That said, SFDC is hype and overcharging. Bad, flat file db with difficult to execute table joins required to do what should be simple searches across entities (Contacts, Accounts, Opportunities). If you search for L'Oreal or Estee Lauder, you'd better use the accent, except in the front page search box where it's not required, but it is in the interior search boxes. If you want to add contacts to opportunities from within their account, get ready to search the entire db, again, flat file. User interface is unchanged since the 90's. Outlook integration costs extra. Offline version is abysmally bad and syncs poorly (as of 2010, anyway) Zoho, Capsule Sugar better for early stage companies with short $$ SalesLogix best large company solution I've seen (no, I don't work there) But, ill informed people start and end the conversation w/Salesforce. Marketing hype.
    Reply Vote I'm for Yes
  • External App integration is going to move Salesforce forward

    With the new ability to plug Java and .Net apps into the platform I suspect we will see many more new customers and deeper enterprise integration with existing cusotmers. SFDC is a phenomenal product when properly deployed. Configuration time is very low, performance is acceptable and maintenance costs are next to nothing compared to on-premise products. Now that it can integrate with existing apps there is really nothing in the way to stop its momentum.
    Reply Vote I'm for No
  • I am a big fat No!

    I am a part of the Community, so while somewhat biased towards the products offered by Salesforce, I would say I have always struggled with their partial development and release cycle. I would love to see a more closer to fully developed product than several release iterations until it is worthy of full adoption. This is where I can understand Dennis Howlett's antagonisms towards Salesforce's methodology in general. Let's be clear though they are crushing SFA and there is tremendous company support for the now coined philosophy, within and without the company, for True to Core. They are also crushing Service to Phil Wainewright's point. I have full confidence that Salesforce's recent addition of Marketing Cloud will see even greater momentum in both functionality and tangible sales. I am somewhat surprised that Dennis Howlett argues against vendor add-on's to bolster the functionality. As a reminder to who owned the rights for the name the App Store? Benioff did. Who was one of the very first to build an entire ecosystem out of the notion of a platform for vendor's to build upon, and who supports the partnership with those vendors to maintain this reciprocal relationship. So I am for No!
    Reply Vote I'm for No