Somehow I missed this post from Sarah Lacey in December, when Yammer crashed for a day, and Pandodaily’s entire work flow crashed along with it.
Let this be a warning for companies trying to run their business on freemium cloud apps. And as a business owner, here’s my response to cloud companies: If you expect me to run my company on this, it has to work. I don’t give a shit how pretty the UI is. I don’t give a shit about your mobile app. I don’t give a shit how cutesy your name is or if your company has a mascot of some cute animal. I don’t give a shit if I’m paying you or not paying you. It has to work. And should something go wrong, you owe me some sort of communication letting me know when it’ll be back up.
In the early years of Salesforce.com, the users would go apeshit if the service was down at all. This was even before the era of social media when venting was a lot harder, but the outcry was still huge. CEO Marc Benioff used to sigh and point out that the software was up more than 95 percent of the time — something that users should be impressed with.
But the message was loud and clear: If you want us to stop using on premise software and use this instead, it has to work. Back in those days, people used the analogy of electricity with on-demand or SaaS or Cloud software. You just turn on the light switch, and there it is! Like magic! If that’s the pitch, you have to deliver with the reliability of electricity or plumbing or whatever your utility analogy is.
And because Benioff understood selling to customers and marketing, he got this. And Salesforce got rapidly better.
The problem with so many of the new generation of software moguls and the obsessive move to the “consumerization of enterprise” is that they don’t know how to build enterprise-grade software that doesn’t crash. As consumers who just want to Tweet witticisms, we can forgive a Fail Whale. When a Fail Whale can bring your business to its knees, it’s simply not acceptable. It’s when launch first and iterate later will cost you your entire customer base.
Especially enjoyed the description of her team trying out a bunch of alternatives to Yammer, desperately trying to get up and running again.
And this one-liner:
Using Chatter is like watching your dad trying to moonwalk. “Hey, look, kids! We can be cool and social too!”