Data.com: Apps without Data are Dead

August 31, 2011 Appirio

Ryan Nichols
Very exciting to see Salesforce announce Data.com today, in partnership with D&B, the leader in business data. Over the last year, D&B and Appirio have partnered to bring D&B’s rich set of company information into SaaS apps people use to work… including Salesforce and Google Apps. We’re excited to see this capability brought into Salesforce’s new offering.

The launch of Data.com adds the important layer of “data as a service” to the traditional (and over-played) division of cloud computing into software as a service, platform as a service, and infrastructure as a service. And its a critical layer to consider: without Data… “nothing else matters,” to quote an upcoming Dreamforce presenter.

Apps without data are dead. And for most business applications, living behind a firewall, data is hard to get in and even harder to keep up to date. Apps in the cloud are different– they’re open, so its easy to get data in. And they’re social, so the data is easier for anyone to keep up to date. That’s why our enterprise customers have been so interested our work bringing together D&B, Salesforce, and Google Apps.

Having a CRM that’s tightly integrated with company information from D&B and contact information from Jigsaw will be a powerful combination indeed. It makes clear how ridiculous the argument “but I don’t want my sensitive customer information in the cloud” has become. The reality is that much of the most valuable information about your customers is in the cloud already– it doesn’t belong to you. And much of the proprietary customer information you’re trying to protect is obsolete.

The rise of SaaS has already shown us the power of sharing application infrastructure across thousands of different companies. Applying the concept of shared infrastructure to data and offering “data as a service” offers many of the same benefits:

  • Instant Elasticity: Your data can grow with your business. Entering a new region or market segment? No need to start with an empty lead database. 
  • Continual improvement: Your data just keeps on getting better over time, without you having to invest in expensive, ongoing cleansing. 
  • Focus on core vs. commodity: And most importantly– you can focus on generating unique insights about your customers instead of maintaining commodity information about them. 

The launch of data as a service is one of those “only in the cloud” phenomenon– Salesforce is able to make this new capability available to their global customer base, without any upgrades. Can you imagine SAP shipping you a pre-populated CRM system? We’re hoping that we see as much innovation and disruption from this layer of the cloud computing stack as we’ve seen in the others.

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