I am a long time customer and fan of Salesforce.com. As cloud adoption soars, Salesforce has transformed itself from a CRM into a cloud platform as a service.

The problem, is while Salesforce is chasing after new opportunities as a PaaS company, making acquisitions, and expanding its reach to sustain growth, their core SaaS suite has been collecting dust. Salesforce.com wants to be THE platform for cloud Business Applications which is why I am investing and integrating our CMaps Analytics location intelligence tools. As a customer, SFDC no longer provides value to centralize all facets of customer engagement, which is a shame.

For the last 3 years, I have been compromising customer engagement by using Salesforce.com.

The approach to Salesforce.com is to throw money at licensing and development to get to a solution; makes sense as a PaaS.  The problem is that Salesforce charges a “solution premium” for a development platform and charging that same premium for customer facing apps. This model just doesn’t scale and I found that the cost/benefit of using Salesforce.com for customer facing applications forced my company to find a new solution.

Simplification through OpenSource and WordPress

2 years ago, I noticed the development community for Wordpress exploding, and the technology growing more powerful with each release. I have used WordPress to power a variety of public cloud apps and sites with great success. Now, the same portal where my customers get knowledge, training, templates, and other materials will be my hub for logging cases, providing software downloads, and other customer engagement / community activities.

My total cost savings by dumping Salesforce for customer facing engagement will be close to $5,000 per year. My total Amazon hosting and 3rd party licensing costs under $1000 per year and will allow me to scale to my thousands of users instantly and grow without paying money for resources I am not using.

It should be an interesting experiment now that I have launched phase 1 this weekend, which also moves our e-commerce and license delivery to CentigonKnowledge.com. Ultimately the goal is to driving more value to customers who invest in our technology and increase engagement. While we make this move, we are also testing solutions from ZenDesk and UserVoice.

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