Zendesk has had a pretty amazing few years, and now has over 20,000 companies using its product for customer support. And a lot of those companies also use Salesforce for CRM. So they released an integration some time ago between the two products to break down the silos. But it was an first-go effort, and now the company has upgraded to something much more deeply integrated and fluid solution. In particular, Zendesk now has developed Zendesk Ticket, which allows complete history of a support ticket to be sent into Salesforce. Better integration of Salesforce information in Zendesk has also been developed, as well as reports and dashboards that include information from both Zendesk and Salesforce.
Sound like a merger in the works?
But I want to go past the specifics of this particular case and use it as an example fo what I call ‘going horizontical’. Social tools usually start out being focused in one of two major dimensions. Tools like Yammer or Twitter are horizontal in nature: they are designed to provide a small set of capabilities that have applicability across vertical domains of work or play. A tool like Zendesk on the other hand was planned from the beginning to go deep in a specific area: customer support tracking.
However, over time, Zendesk’s focus — ostensibly a strength — became a problem in that users wanted to share the information siloed there in other contexts, and most specifically in Salesforce. We can say that these areas — support and sales — are adjacent to each other in business process terms.
Zendesk solution has been to create a connector between the two tools, and to package up information on both sides, allowing a controlled transfer of information from one silo to the other. There was no general messaging tool to build on, so in essence Zendesk built a horizontal messaging architecture, and used that to bridge across verticals: they went horizontical.
And I wouldn’t be surprised if Salesforce decided that the bridgework involved is just as valuable an asset as Zendesk’s customer support implementation, when they sit down to discuss the almost inevitable acquisition.