Salesforce.com Debuts Work.com at Dreamforce, So What Now?
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By Micah Fairchild
Work.com: The Top 5 Truths About Salesforce’s Latest Venture
Not too long ago, we dedicated some time to a topic that we thought would have little to no interest or impact on the HR software industry: Salesforce.com’s acquisition of Rypple. While we were certainly taken in by the point that Salesforce was now getting into the HCM technology world, the fact of the matter was that at the time this buy seemed to do little more than add value to Salesforce’s Chatter. This past week however, anyone following Salesforce’s progress (or attending the company’s user conference Dreamforce) finally got a glimpse into what Benioff’s company has really been up to: the build-out of a new application called Work.com.
To be truthful, Work.com is in all actuality a rebranded and upgraded version of Rypple (which Saleforce purchased last December). And while more extensive from a feature sets perspective (e.g. new private workspaces for employees/managers; newer rewards systems, etc.), little has changed in terms of what Salesforce can do in the HCM software market. As to be expected given all of the recent activity in the HR technology space of late though, hype for Work.com has been at a fevered pitch; with several analysts even indicating that this latest offering from CRM-stalwart Salesforce.com could be changing how HR does business. Although we wish that we could share that sentiment and get swept away in the tide of publicity, unfortunately, for us this seems to be more adulation than substance. That’s not to say that there aren’t some notable aspects of Work.com, but they hardly measure up to the hype. To get at what you should really know about this latest Salesforce development though, we’ve put together a quick top 5 list.
Work.com Point #1: Facebook
As if there weren’t enough reasons already to see that Facebook is looking to get into a more well-defined role in the HCM space (remember Facebook’s recent job board announcement?), Work.com is in part the product of a collaboration between the social media giant and Salesforce.com. In fact, one person explaining the new application at the Dreamforce conference was none other than Facebook’s CIO Tim Campos; who’s largely credited with being the sponsor of Work.com’s goal setting, review, and feedback system. Campos is also credited (by Benioff no less) as being the brainchild that proposed the idea of the Rypple acquisition in the first place. Facebook had already been heavily leveraging Rypple themselves and used much of that insider knowledge to develop the feature sets that Work.com customers will see. And according to Campos, “Facebook will need tools to understand how to grow the workforce…and Work.com is helping do that”.
Work.com Point #2: Cost
For many would-be customers, the $5/employee charge seems like it would be a god-send. And on the surface, that’s a paltry amount to pay for functionality that might not exist in a company’s current HR software package. Consider this though, the average performance management component of an integrated HRMS (or talent management) suite generally runs around $1.50 per employee, and is already attached to your compensation, learning, system of record, and more. Considering the fact that this is an added cost on top of what you’re already paying for those other functional areas, and to us that seems like too much—particularly in light of the fact that most providers at this point are developing (or have already developed) functionality that is similarly social in nature and based upon continuous feedback (which is after all one of the hard and fast best practices of effective performance management). As is the case with most point solutions, for now Work.com is a complement to an already-existing system rather than a standalone solution.
Work.com Point #3: Salesforce.com Integration
Perhaps the news with the biggest potential for payoff coming out of the Work.com announcement is that it will be fully integrated into the massive Salesforce.com community. With the Work.com announcement, Rypple officially moves from being simply an acquired company to an integral Salesforce.com tool—becoming fully integrated into the venerable Sales and Service clouds, as well as Chatter. What exactly does that mean? Well, for the company’s current 150K+ customers, that means that all they have to is flip a switch and they have access. No further installs; no HR portal to log into; it’s already there and ready to be used.
Work.com Point #4: Partnerships a la Workday & More
As if Workday needed to add another nail in the coffin of the on-premise deployment model, the announcement of Work.com also came with an equally important message that Salesforce and Workday were entering into a strategic partnership that would seamlessly integrate Workday’s HCM software with Work.com. And while big news (which hints at the possibility of something bigger down the pike), as Dennis Howlett from Enterprise Irregulars puts it, “Provided the two companies can show a seamless yet loosely coupled integration, both parties win against SAP/Oracle in deals where they can play the white knight full ERP role against vendor lock-in AND offer compelling ROI”. And although this partnership in and of itself has the capability of turning some of the industry on its head, the Workday announcement wasn’t the only strategy broadcast. Specifically, Work.com has also entered into an agreement with Amazon.com for incentivizing employees via gift cards to the online retailer; an update that, while small, could have a big impact on a rapidly growing segment of the rewards and recognition market.
Work.com Point #5: Sales Productivity and Performance
Above all, the big thing to take away from this announcement is that Salesforce.com now has a firm lock on the lifecycle of sales professionals’ productivity and performance needs. We’ve criticized Rypple in the past as not being widely applicable outside of sales and that still stands even with the Work.com announcement. However, the latest upgrades to Rypple do allow for businesses to be able to leverage these social performance/recognition capabilities without deploying the full breadth of the Salesforce.com application. It’s expensive if already utilizing another talent management or HRMS solution, but if productivity and performance are your company’s main areas where improvement is needed (and social looks to be utilized), leveraging Work.com might be in your organization’s best interest.
Salesforce’s Work.com Announcement – Final Thoughts
As we said before, Salesforce.com’s entry into the HCM world via Rypple is far from earth-shattering. However, as the market continues to move around the idea of more socially-integrated goal-setting and performance management processes, the fact of the matter is that Salesforce has solidified its place among some of the biggest players in the HR technology industry. The question for Benioff and his team moving forward then, is how that position can be best leveraged for the future. Though his staff indicate that no further plans to offer additional talent management capabilities are on the table, you can’t help but wonder whether the integration efforts thus far are simply setting the stage for what could be an entirely separate HCM suite dedicated to the sales professional vertical. After all, Salesforce.com has had a near unrivaled capture of the CRM industry, and has now added functionality to help manage those employees alongside the work they're already doing. This could mean big things for Salesforce, but only time will tell.
With the Work.com announcement, Rypple officially moves from being simply an acquired company to an integral Salesforce.com tool—becoming fully integrated into the venerable Sales and Service clouds, as well as Chatter.