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Salesforce + Google = Goal Over Task/Document Orientation

Salesforce.com and Google have just announced integration between Google Apps and Salesforce.com.  It’s a moderately interesting story, a poorly kept secret, and many have written about it since it was expertly seeded to the blogosphere, so the news value here is limited.  I’ll stick to giving an overview on the reporting so far and finish with my take on a major user interface opportunity with this kind of mashup/partnership.

First, coverage so far:

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what’s really new and interesting here if it isn’t the world’s first seamless connection between two SaaS offerings (it’s not!)?

As I said in my title, I think it opens the door to changing how we approach information and tasks on the computer.  Phil Wainewright is sort of right and sort of wrong.  He is right that this could be hugely viral.  The governing factor is to what extent the workgroups that Phil refers to view Salesforce.com as their hub.

Many workers have that one application that is their bread and butter.  The show up, log into it (or bring it up), and it is there all day long for them.  Sometimes the application is about a particular kind of data.  Graphic Designers may live (primarily) in PhotoShop, for example.  This is task orientation.  PC operating systems saddle us with a task+document orientation.  You either double click on a document, or open a the task (application) and load the document.

But neither of these really reflects how people think.  We’re a level of abstraction above pure tasks or individual documents.  Those are low level tools.  I would say we are more goal-oriented.  I need to push my sales along today.  Or, I need to close the deal with Kimberly-Clark before the end of this quarter.

CRM wants to control these goals for salespeople.  In theory, if the app works well for this, pairing it up with Google Apps is very powerful.  It can serve as a model for many more domains which often have a similar workflow/business process hub associated with a particular goal.

However, the history of CRM is not 100% encouraging along these lines.  Many salespeople view it as a necessary evil while their management uses it mostly as a forecasting tool (how much will we sell this quarter) which it does a very poor job of.  This latter creates a huge misalignment between management and the users of the CRM/SFA (Sales Force Automation) tool.  Understandably, there is a lot of pressure to close deals.  Equally understandably, salespeople may not want management to have a total surveillance view of every bit of data associated with the deal.  Most of the time what’s in Salesforce and other CRM system is a pretty carefully prepared presentation of what the salesperson wants management to see as the current status of the sale.

So the potential is there, but the true nature of CRM system may mitigate how much of the potential is realized.

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