Is Salesforce pivoting from its social enterprise rap?

The social enterprise movement may be running into a wall of culture, management and process. It's not about software.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Social enterprise software may not be that utopia originally foreseen by Salesforce.com. That's the argument from a Wall Street analyst who opines that Salesforce is backing off its social enterprise talk.

In a research note, Cowen & Co. analyst Peter Goldmacher said:

Despite making a big splash around Social at its user conference in October, conversations with the CRM ecosystem around weak "Social" pipeline conversion, a lack of customer traction around Social Marketing and accelerating declines in sales productivity lead us to believe that Salesforce’s latest marketing gambit isn't paying off.

Goldmacher also noted that Salesforce's home page is more cloud than social these days.

If Goldmacher is right a few questions emerge. The biggest one will revolve around social software acquisitions such as Radian6 and Buddy Media, two deals that cost Salesforce more than $1 billion combined. Another item worth pondering is whether Oracle's social push is denting Salesforce. 

Is Salesforce playing down the social on its home page?


The research note from Goldmacher sparked an interesting discussion on the Enterprise Irregulars list. The gist goes like this:

  • The social enterprise is about culture, management and process. It's not about software.
  • If that culture and process point sounds familiar that's because social software may be ERP in a new wrapper. ERP software changed companies fundamentally, but also led to spectacular IT disasters largely due to people, process and culture. Social with business process integration won't work.
  • Internal collaboration also creates social mojo. Collaboration goes well beyond software and frankly is difficult.

Now what? Like most technologies, social is following a familiar path. First there's the argument that the software will change everything. Then there's the realization that the latest tech won't magically cure your enterprise. Then there's the blowback. Quietly---and just as everyone writes it off---something else comes along as an enabler. The social enterprise may follow a similar route, but for now it's disillusionment time.

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