Massive amounts of investments have been made trying to create online communities around online sites. Most of those efforts have been failures. Salesforce.com is making the case that a big reason most of those efforts fail is the fact that most of those communities are built on top of a platform that was never designed to be that engaging.
With the launch today of the Salesforce1 Community Cloud, the provider of customer relationship management (CRM) and other marketing and services applications in the cloud is looking to change all that.
Lisa Hammitt, vice president, business operations for the Salesforce1 Community Cloud, contends that for all intents and purposes, a community that consists of customers, partners and employees is already swirling around Salesforce applications in the cloud. The Salesforce1 Community Cloud provides a dedicated application environment where all those interactions can be harnessed as a seamless extension of existing business processes.
Hammitt says this approach not only makes it easier for customer service representatives and salespeople to more naturally participate in those communities, it also means they can take advantage of the Salesforce1 platform to access those communities at any time from any mobile device.
With more than $3.5 billion expected to be spent on enterprise collaboration applications and services in coming years, Hammitt says Salesforce.com already has commitments from 2,000 organizations to use Salesforce1 Community Cloud. In addition, Deloitte Digital is announcing today that it has created an entire collaboration practice around Salesforce1 Community Cloud.
Online communities generally require a level of critical mass to succeed. Salesforce.com is definitely in a position to help organizations create the level of interest needed to build “systems of engagement” as an extension to the applications already running on the Salesforce.com cloud. The challenge going forward isn’t so much the technology being used to create those communities as much as it is being able to tie all those engagements to a business process that gives people a meaningful reason for continuing to participate in a community.
After all, sharing your thoughts, suggestions and insider knowledge about a product or a service just isn’t very rewarding when there is actually no one there to see, hear or read what is being shared in the first place.