A Research Note On Salesforce.com's New Site.com

Salesforce.com Unveils the Next Generation of the Social Enterprise, Dramatically Expands With Salesforce Rypple and Salesforce Site.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Salesforce.com, the enterprise cloud computing company announced Salesforce Rypple and Salesforce Site.com - two new products that extend the social enterprise to reach every employee and every customer. The next generation of the social enterprise leverages salesforce.com's social, mobile and open cloud technologies to develop social profiles of customers, create employee and customer social networks, and connect with public social networks. Salesforce Rypple will enable companies to engage and align people and teams with social performance management, extending the employee social network to reach every employee. New Salesforce Site.com delivers a consistent brand experience to every customer by empowering marketers to deliver fresh, relevant content across websites, portals, landing pages and public social networks. Now companies can transform the way they collaborate, communicate and share information with employees and customers to stay competitive in today's social world.

"Salesforce.com is seeing unstoppable demand for the social enterprise as companies see their customers and employees become more social and mobile by the day," said Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO, salesforce.com. "With Salesforce Rypple and Salesforce Site.com, we're excited that companies will now be able to extend their social enterprise to reach every employee and every customer."


As a follow up, Nucleus Research released a Research Note concerning Salesforce.com's announcement of its Site.Com:

THE BOTTOM LINE
Salesforce.com is setting its sights on the Web content management space by expanding and rebranding its Web site Software-as-a-Service offering, Site.com. With relatively low initial and ongoing costs, Akamai caching to support high availability, and support for social and mobile access, Site.com has the potential to be as disruptive to the Web content management market as Salesforce.com initially was to on-premise CRM. Companies moving from traditional ECM to Sites are likely to save twothirds on software license maintenance alone. On March 15 at Cloudforce, Salesforce.com announced rebranding of Salesforce.com Sites to Site.com and expansion of its capabilities to support social interactions and mobile access. Site.com enables developers to build and deploy public Web sites and applications using Force.com, the Salesforce development platform. Sites can be assigned custom domain names so they appear as internal company Web sites.

Developers can use Site.com to rapidly develop corporate Web and intranet sites, microsites, and dynamic Web applications available through a Web browser. Site.com charge per site and per Website developer user. List pricing starts at one site and one developer user for $1,625 per month.

TCO alone should drive exploration for companies not currently exploring a Web site refresh. Nucleus’s data from content management case studies shows the average large company spends $340,000 on Web site software license maintenance alone. For approximately a third of that price, companies could build and support social and mobile-enabled sites on Site.com without additional hardware investment.

THE WEB SITE ROI EVOLUTION
The first corporate Web sites were built by HTML developers and required developer skill and time to update, which was fine when sites were largely static in nature and needed to be accessible by only a limited number of Web browsers. The first wave of Web site ROI came with Web services frameworks and templates from vendors such as BEA and IBM, who provided platforms for reusable code and workflows for business users to suggest and review content – but they still required a Web developer. Web content management providers such as Vignette and OpenText provided the next wave of Web site ROI by enabling business users to make some changes to content and supporting more sophisticated capabilities like

XML – but developers were still largely responsible for Web site architecture and significant content and format changes. Google sites was arguably the first product to put Web site development and updating into the hands of the business user without developer skills, but Google’s challenges in embracing the enterprise (in areas like version control, security, and structure) kept it from being a compelling replacement for traditional Web site platforms.

Salesforce.com announced Sites in 2010 but its new announcement this week drives it into the mainstream as a potential replacement for traditional Web site content management vendors for a number of reasons:

  • Lower initial and ongoing costs than traditional Web content management. Most organizations are still running their corporate Web sites on traditional Web content management platforms, and paying software license maintenance as well as the cost of qualified technical staff to make changes. Significant changes still require consultants or developer resources. Site.com is available at a fraction of the cost of traditional software license maintenance and changes or microsite launches can be managed by business users.
  • Support for social capabilities and mobile access. Companies that rolled out new Web sites based on technology only a few years old are struggling to integrate social capabilities and provide easy user access from different mobile devices. Salesforce.com’s early focus on these areas may make social and mobile capabilities alone a compelling reason for a move.
  • Flexibility and agility. Unlike traditional Web site platforms that involve slow and consulting-intensive waterfall development models, Sites.com enables rapid iterative development and changes.
  • A penetration pricing strategy. As part of its March 15 announcement, Salesforce.com has announced a special promotion available through April 30 that enables customers to license two publishers, two contributors, and one published site for a lite price of $825 per month.
  • Caching outside the Salesforce.com data center for scalability and availability. Although Salesforce has not widely publicized this, it has partnered with Akamai to provide caching for static portions of large corporate Web sites – reducing the reliance on the Salesforce.com data center for spikes in traffic to Web sites with a significantly different traffic pattern than internal Salesforce.com deployments.

Nucleus has already seen companies migrate their custom Web application content from Lotus Notes to Site.com. Companies struggling with the high overhead and limited flexibility of their traditional Web site platforms may find Site.com an attractive alternative. Companies should also not discount Site.com as a simplified or limited Web content management platform. Nucleus has seen Salesforce.com partners such as Appirio that have built complex multimedia Web sites to rival those of Open Text and Vignette running on the Force.com platform.

CHALLENGES FOR SALESFORCE
Salesforce has the potential to be as disruptive to on-premise Web content management providers as it initially was to on-premise CRM – but it is not without challenges. First, Salesforce.com has to beat the perception that it can’t support the scalability and high performance required for customer-facing Web sites.

Second, it needs to show that it can support multiple development environments and that customers won’t be “locked in” to Site.com if they move to the platform. Finally, it has to show that it can support the complexity companies have built into their corporate sites with vendors such as OpenText and Vignette. On the third point, support for social capabilities and access by mobile devices are a good start.

References will speak louder than marketing, and Salesforce is playing it right: Nucleus has heard that Hewlett-Packard, Haagen Daas, and others are already using Site.com to support their public-facing sites (which Nucleus will verify). Haagen Daas is particularly interesting, it can set a standard architecture and let local franchisees use content and customize certain portions of the site – such as promotions – to meet their local needs.

CONCLUSION
A recent Nucleus survey found that 53 percent of companies are still struggling to determine their social technology strategy, and majority of companies are still running their corporate Web site on applications that were architected long before Facebook. Site.com presents a potential opportunity for companies rethinking their corporate Web site strategy to consider a SaaS provider with social and mobile capabilities and a proven record.

For Salesforce.com, capitalizing on the Site.com opportunity enables it to move beyond CRM and the shackles of per-user pricing for service, sales, and support. This furthers its goals of extending beyond CRM, insulating itself from Wall Street expectations based on a per-user model, and engaging more customers with a social enterprise license to drive further penetration of its technology. For companies spending more than $200,000 a year on Web site content management license maintenance, Site.com offers a gateway to both lower ongoing costs and greater flexibility and diversity of access to exceed the demands of social and mobile consumers.

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