Sometimes less is more, and Salesforce.com is counting on that with Thursday's release of Salesforce Rypple, a social personnel performance review system. The optional add-on to the vendor's cloud-based CRM service was set to be announced at an event in San Francisco along with a revamped Site.com website publishing and hosting service.
Salesforce aquired Rypple late last year soon after SAP announced it would spend $3.4 billion to acquire SuccessFactors, a cloud-based provider of a suite of human capital management (HCM) applications. Oracle responded in February, announcing it would acquire HCM vendor Taleo in a $1.9 billion deal that has yet to be completed.
In contrast to SuccessFactors and Taleo, which offer extensive suites including performance review, recruiting, workforce planning and analytics, compensation planning, and succession planning applications, Rypple is a dead-simple social goal-setting and performance review system with gamification features that let users win badges for completing goals, landing a big client, or otherwise doing a good job.
It took Salesforce just six weeks to integrate Rypple with its Chatter social collaboration platform and key activity data streams, such as leads, accounts, and service cases, within the CRM system. According to Salesforce, Rypple is less hierarchical and more collaborative and engaging than conventional performance review systems, so it's far more likely to be used.
"HCM vendors have focused on the wrong problem by trying to build as big a suite as possible and up their sales price, but that hasn't changed the fact that people hate performance [review] systems," said John Wookey, an SAP and Oracle veteran who recently joined Salesforce.com as executive vice president of social applications. "People actually use Rypple, and we think that's more important than the buying center feeling good about having a comprehensive HR suite."
Wookey said Salesforce intends to grow its HCM capabilities, with customers expressing interest in recruiting, onboarding, and incentives, but its first goal was to expose the performance system where people actually do their work. Salesforce Rypple will be visible within standard Chatter and CRM interfaces. The basic service, which supports personal and group recognition and feedback, is $5 per user, per month. A more extensive service supporting goal setting and printing of formal performance reviews is $9/user, per month.
"Companies will need more than just performance reviews, but it's a good starting point. And if even 15% of Salesforce customers move to Rypple, that's a significant chunk of revenue," said analyst Ray Wang of Constellation Research.
Salesforce.com has also revamped its Force.com Sites content management capability with Site.com, a template-driven website publishing and hosting service that is tied in with the vendor's sales and service capabilities and the Chatter collaboration platform.
Salesforce executives said Site.com will enable its customers to easily build out sales- and service-related pages without the heavy-duty coding and integration work that a separate system would require. For example, a page related to a marketing event or a job posting could incorporate a Web form tied in with Salesforce leads. The form could be published once and pushed out both online and through the vendor's mobile services. And once the form is completed, the data would go directly into Salesforce.com and a thank you e-mail message could be triggered by the CRM system.
Partner applications will also be able to take advantage of Site.com, according to Salesforce, but details were not available on available Web analytics (site performance measurement) or integrated campaign management capabilities.
"I'd consider Site.com a first step," Wang said. "There's more in the long-term roadmap, and users still need something easier to use than APEX code." APEX is the proprietary version of Java used with Salesforce.com's Force.com cloud-based development platform. Site.com is largely template-driven, but custom integrations to the site would require APEX coding.
Site.com-published sites are $1,500 per month, plus $125/publisher per month and $20/contributor per month.
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