This week I am in San Francisco for the Salesforce.com user conference they call Dreamforce. Over the past few years I have really seen this organization scale in amazing ways. This year's conference is focused on "cloud computing" - an idea that removes some of the burden of technical infrastructure from enterprises. This is a particularly good idea for companies that experience elastic technical demands. So if you need a lot of technological heavy lifting one day, and light use the next, it's a really good idea.
Another concept that's being highlighted is about personal connectivity. Everyone seems to be struggling to monetize social networks like Facebook - which has about 120 million users today (gasp). Salesforce.com is providing a platform for launching apps on Facebook (example: helping HR find good candidates through social networking).
So from a marketing perspective, what's right about this?
Well - since good online marketing has long been about being found, rather than trying to interrupt someone doing something else online, there's an attraction to being visible and viral in a huge ecosystem like Facebook. There are an awful lot of eyeballs there. Next, pushing repetitive yet important services (like hosting or databases) out to the "cloud" sounds like a good idea.
Now from a marketing perspective, what's missing with this?
B2B Apps on Facebook: If my Facebook page is all about my personal life (i.e. photos of my kids, my pet projects, the social organizations I like, etc.), do I really want it to cross over into my professional world (i.e. the HR application example)?
Computing in the Cloud: It has to be a good idea to start with. All the on-demand servers or platforms in the world are not going to successfully launch a flawed concept. How does the ability to launch an application quickly change the way we think about startups? Do ideas become more disposable when they are aggregated by the thousands on Starbucks customer idea page? Does the cloud complicate my life, or simplify it?
I'll be contemplating all of this tomorrow and issuing another post. One of my favorite authors, Malcolm Gladwell, is speaking tomorrow afternoon. Stay tuned.