Crowd-Sourcing, Customer Data and Choice in the Salesforce.com Cloud Model

My recent post on Salesforce.com’s acquisition of Jigsaw garnered a lot of comments. First of all, thanks for everyone joining the convo – I would love it if more people chimed in to every one of mine or Mitch’s posts to really make this a great hub for thinking out load about CRM, social media, cloud, etc.

I wanted to say a few more things – maybe clarify my points here. Again – in theory I think the concept behind Salesforce.com combined with Jigsaw’s cloud-based data service makes total sense. The ability to augment data sets, and the crowd-sourced notion of Jigsaw is very cool. It gives a CRM system another level of power – making it a more “living” system rather than a static or mildly stale data repository that sales reps hate using.

But…and this is a big but…Salesforce.com is a HUGE company, with a ton of different types of customers from all over the world, and across all industries. The issue with Jigsaw’s free and open data model (remember, they along with SugarCRM were part of the open data initiative) might mean that some of their operations may not exactly jibe with the privacy mandates of these geographies, industries, etc.

Now, that does not mean that Salesforce.com is doing something bad. The issue is, that Salesforce simply has to be very careful about how it leverages the complementary nature of its huge customer database, and the crowd-sourced data service of Jigsaw. What feeds which system, so to speak, could have huge consequences.

I can only assume a company of Salesforce.com’s size and stature has thought about this, and is developing controls and other methods of allowing those who do not wish to have their data added to the Jigsaw system to easily opt-out.

The issue here is choice – Salesforce.com HAS to offer choice in this manner. While choice is sometimes a privilege – here it is a must. And ultimately, I think that is the only potential snag in what on paper is an interesting value proposition – one we have long held and which resulted in our data Cloud Connectors.

2 thoughts on “Crowd-Sourcing, Customer Data and Choice in the Salesforce.com Cloud Model

  1. First – hats off to Salesforce & Jigsaw this is a real disruptive combination.

    I think we’ll see some tension created on the PR side of this strategic buy. Salesforce has created not only the definitive go to best choice, market dominating CRM product but a brand that is trusted. The path to maintaining that position while crossing over to a more social & crowd sourced company is really narrow. The trust portion of their brand in my opinion is arguably their larger asset at this point in their market/company position. They need to be as transparent as possible and communicate to the world how they intend to continue to deserve that trust. I believe that Salesforce has consistently demonstrated that they’ll be able to not only continue to innovate but also keep pace with product features offered by competing companies. By itself – that’s a pretty impressive kudo for their business and the folks that make it happen. However, as a customer entering your leads, business relationship details, opportunities, and pipeline – how are you going to feel when companies and contacts that you’ve entered are now finding their way into a list that other Salesforce customers are exchanging for points? Let’s imagine that they got these contacts from some other 3rd party source – but as a customer do you have any doubt about it? Is the data your enter to do business then sold to someone else? Trust is really hard to get and even harder to get back after it’s been lost. What exactly can they do with or what will they do with the Jigsaw data and the data you enter as a CRM client? I wonder if they plan to use information entered by corporate CRM customers to validate, scrub, cleanse etc. the Jigsaw contacts. Would that be fair? They wouldn’t actually be sharing or selling the information you enter about your contacts when you use the Salesforce CRM product but they might just use it to clean up Jigsaw contacts on a ongoing basis. Or they may use it for company discovery to make sense of the contacts. I wonder if they plan to address that data use and hedge off concerns? I think we’ll see some additional strategic mergers to make sure they can append valuable / necessary company information to contacts without dipping into the data users provide as a CRM customer.

    Anyone agree or disagree?

  2. Jerry –

    I think this comes all comes down to offering choice – and as you say nurturing trust, inside the SFDC customer base.

    If this simply becomes the de facto way SFDC uses data – sharing it with others so that no one owns their data nor has control – this could sink their ship in some ways.

    I have to believe SFDC is a large and smart enough company to set access and sharing controls for their users. This has to be OPT-IN, not OPT-OUT – as companies may leave their data feeds open by accident, and get in to trouble.

    Even if SFDC makes this a feature, with strong controls – I smell more than a few lawsuits once someones data gets shared that can not be, due to industry or government mandates etc.

    -MS

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s