At the beginning of this week, Salesforce.com announced ContentExchange, a SaaS-based content management service, based on technology it acquired when it bought Koral (www.koral.com, which now redirects to Salesforce.com). Koral, a nine-person company, has been building its SaaS-based collaboration and content solution for awhile, and showed it at DEMO Fall 2006.
Out of the box, this application has a much more of an enterprise attitude than the recently announced Google Apps, Premier Edition. ContentExchange supports workflow, versioning, tagging, and the ability to subscribe to RSS feeds about documents. In fact, this solution displays an early version of what I call "content analytics," in that it displays usage information about the content as a way for users and the enterprise to decide what's important. Google Apps has access to this information behind the scenes, but does nothing with it.
True, Google Apps and ContentExchange are somewhat apples and oranges. Google Apps concentrates on collaboration during document creation, while ContentExchange helps workers collaborate amongst each other via already written documents. However, ContentExchange is part of a company that has product roadmaps (try and get one out of Google) and looks for enterprise capabilities to be built in from the get go (unlike Google, which takes consumer-based apps and slaps the Enterprise label on with minimal modification).
While Google Apps, Premier Edition, has been generating a lot of buzz within the Burton Group client base -- I'm convinced mostly due to its low cost, certainly not due to its functionality -- Google Apps is no longer the only SaaS-based content and collaboration service in town. Since I'm in the process of writing a Burton Group report about Google Apps, Premier Edition, I've been kicking its tires -- and they're looking a bit soft in places. While there are still unknowns about ContentExchange -- for example, its pricing -- in my view, ContentExchange is already on the list of SaaS-based collaboration and content packages that enterprises should take a look at.
It's going to take awhile for the market to absorb all these changes (Google Apps, Salesforce ContentExchange, and Cisco's entrance into the space via its acquisition of WebEx) and for enterprises to decide what's appropriate for them (stick with Notes, go with SharePoint 2007, or try out a SaaS-based solution). Whatever the result, this is a great time -- as we're telling our CCS clients -- to check your assumptions about collaboration and content. It's a whole new ballgame out there.