David Berlind wrote recently about Marc Benioff’s (CEO of Salesforce.com) response to Steve Ballmer’s recent proclamation that Microsoft is going to give Salesforce.com “a run for its money.” In in an e-mail to the press, Marc wrote:
Microsoft’s failed enterprise software strategy has let the industry down. We have competed against them in the CRM market since 2002, and they have failed to deliver a competitive product. They just cancelled version two of that legacy application and skipped ahead to three. In the meantime, we are on the 18th generation of our service in just six years. Customers are tired of waiting for Microsoft to innovate.
What Marc didn’t mention in his e-mail to the press is the fact that Salesforce.com already has a serious leg up on Microsoft in the web services arena with its sforce web services platform (something I wrote glowingly about at InfoWorld almost three years ago now). My experience as a customer of Salesforce.com at InfoWorld was largely what really made me “get it” when it comes to web services. Anyone thinking about “Web 2.0” and “web as platform” in the non-enterprise context owes a debt to the the smart folks over at Salesforce.com. They were “Web 2.0” before it was cool. I don’t know if they get enough credit for their vision, probably because it’s so ingrained in the way they think and operate that they don’t remember how cool it really is. (Hey Marc, it is really cool).
Salesforce was a Web 2.0 pioneer, but they certainly aren’t sitting still now. Check out their AJAX toolkit (released in late July) and the ultra-cool Spanning Salesforce, a third-party app developed by Charlie Wood’s Spanning Partners which uses the sforce API as the platform to deliver sales leads via RSS. How cool is that?