Last week I was caught up in a number of projects, and wasn’t scanning the web as hard as usual (oh, and there was a thing called Labor Day). So it wasn’t until over the weekend that I learned about Salesforce dropping their file sync-and-share Chatterbox app. Actually, to be clear, Chatterbox was an add on to Chatter, Salesforce’s work management solution.
It looks like Salesforce has wised up to the fact that users don’t want to switch to a Salesforce solution, they want to use one of the leading file sync-and-share platforms out there, like Box, Sharepoint, and Google Drive. So the company has reswizzled its offering to integrate with these market-defining products and will be launching that as Salesforce Files. (By the way, naming a product something as innocuous as <company name> <noun used in a thousand ways> means that people can’t effectively search for it, even at the company’s website.) The product is in private beta, and pricing will be announced at the time of general availability.
This is another proof point of a transition in the industry, where file sync-and-share apps are forming the bedrock of functional apps, like Salesforce CRM. This is what I have been calling the Main Stream architecture.
This is a user-centric conceptual architecture, with the user at the top. We’re moving into an era where a stream-based work management solution (Yammer, Chatter, Podio, Azendoo, Asana, Trello, Honey, etc.) provides the baseline for communication, coordination, and co-curation between associates. Users still have direct access to their operating environment, the web, and non-social apps (Word, email, etc.), as well as direct access to functional apps. However, there is a strong trend to connect functional enterprise apps with the Main Stream: for example, accessing customer care tickets in the Salesforce Chatter stream, or getting a task assigned in Asana with a file in Dropbox attached.
The central role of the file sync-and-share is becoming more evident, and the enterprise leading players in that field, like Box, Hightail, Google Drive, and Dropbox, are going to play a more fundamental role than the work management tools.
Salesforce has accepted the fact that tight integration of these capabilities by a vendor might sound good in a sales strategy off-site, but doesn’t satisfy the desires of users who want to be able to make independent purchasing decisions at different layers of the architecture. And users might be lured by the more mobile-centric polish of many of these tools, or their greater attention to security, or their broader array of integrations.
I had hoped that Marc Benioff would say something interesting about this new shift at Techcrunch Disrupt, but the Hackathon shenanigans (like the — no kidding — Titshare app) overpowered every other bit of news there, it seems.
Disclosure: Hightail is backed by Alloy Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of GigaOM Research, Giga Omni Media.