Rypple and Salesforce.com: It’s about Identity.

Salesforce.com announced that it has acquired Toronto-based Rypple – a social performance management provider. Given my preference for fix-a-problem social software, I’ve always appreciated that Rypple injected the needed context to illustrate why collaborative approaches and in turn, social software mattered to core enterprise process.  No head scratching on use cases when you saw the product for the first time, here.
Here’s what Rypple does:
Designed to build a transparent, results-driven work culture, Rypple replaces the traditional performance review with an easy, social and collaborative approach. People always know where they stand, and are accountable for achieving their goals.
For a run down of what’s what, take a look at Constellation Research’s Yvette Cameron’s post which details insight from Salesforce.com EVP John Wookey and Rypple CEO Daniel Debow. Most of the commentary out there thus far is about how this shakes up HCM or how it doesn’t,
In my mind there are many ways to play in the enterprise software space in this next cycle of 21st century wargames but only two ways to win. On one hand, unhinge incumbent software by offering superior experiences and convenient delivery, and we’ve got natural contenders to point to who have the technology, distribution and the green to do so. The second one is about owning the profesional employee graph and backfilling core HR features, organically or via ISV partnerships. I’ve detailed what employee intelligence really means in detail here ( comments here).
This acquisition is about the second approach.
To me, this is more about strengthening SFs ownership of the professional social graph first and foremost. Radian6 gave Salesforce.com more intelligence into the prospect and customer social graph and the ability to infuse said insight into their front line apps such as Sales and Service Cloud. This purchase, along with Chatter and Chatterlytics strengthens SFs control over exactly who is good at what inside the organization and allows them to federate this information into SF apps today and into AppExchange apps in the near future. That moves this intelligence data set to the front office and right at the point of employee decision making, as opposed to just HCM insight for HR professionals.
These two approaches to winning are obviously not mutually exclusive. And one of the endemic challenges in the enterprise social software space to date has been relatively non-defensible IP which has led most traditional enterprise software buyers such as Oracle,  TIBCO, Cisco, IBM and even Salesforce.com (with Chatter) to go the build vs the buy route for foundational social technology. So expect to see such features organically provided by the rest of the forward thinking HCM provider market, soon.
I’ve said this publicly and privately: Salesforce.com is ring-fencing promising technology that gives it command, control and clout over professional identity. And this move is very consistent and in line with SFs approach to widening its enterprise footprint by focusing on owning all sources of prospect, customer and employee identity . That’s exactly what “Facebook for the Enterprise” should have always meant. Not the Facebook feature emulation exercise that’s been played in the enterprise social software space, thus far.
Again, I have always had preference for social software that fixes a problem and so, whilst the terms of this deal have not been disclosed, I hope the Rypple team was adequately compensated for steadfastly designing social software that had a rudder in place, from the get go.


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Kazi Hassan
Kazi Hassan

Hi Sameer, Really enjoy reading your Blog. Enlightening.              Just a few random thoughts of my own ...              I think there is a difference between "Facebook for Enterprises" and "Facebook for Professionals". In the long term "Facebook for Enterprises" will not survive, it's the "Facebook for Professionals" that will triumph.              I remember Marc Benioff saying how a simple question (Why isn't all software like Amazon? ) led to the foundation of a successful company and a movement. This time around he asked the second iteration of that same question: why isn't all software like FaceBook ? And it led to the development of chatter and related tools.             I have respect for Marc. He is a true visionary. But I believe, although first time he was correct in copying Amazon at the surface level, this time he is wrong in starting with FaceBook streams.            FaceBook came and freed/opened up a side of human self: let me call that Consumer Self. On the other hand "FaceBook for Professionals" will have to free/open up another side of human self: let me call that Professional Self. So what needs to be copied is: Freedom.            And this poses a completely different set of unique challenges for "FaceBook for Professionals".

Emanuele Quintarelli
Emanuele Quintarelli

Sameer, I always love your pieces but this one is really brilliant.  If I correctly understand your thoughts, I start to see some meaningful differences in positioning among incumbents. While quite everybody talks today about adding a social layer on top of traditional enterprise applications, some companies are planning to also own the underlining layer: profiles and relationships information that constitute the nervous system that in turn potentially connects both the system of records and the system of engagement. That would mean owning the (cloud based) foundational platform on top of which everything else has to be built, instead of just aggregating status updates still coming from forever separated silos. Where I'm not exactly convinced is how much Rypple itself can be that foundation. To me, performance information can let emerge most valuable contribute, expertise, efforts but it is still built on top of the enabling underlining layer (the identity). It can dramatically enrich profiles and how users leverage them (and here gamification can play a huge role) but I'm not able to see it as the place where profiles reside. In any case, it seems Salesforce is playing a very interesting long term game.

Larry Hawes
Larry Hawes

Brilliant analysis, Sameer. Marc Benioff spoke at length about the importance of building and owning the "social profile" in his Dreamforce 2011 keynote. So your contention that Salesforce.com's goal is "owning all sources of prospect, customer, and employee identity" is not at all far-fetched. "Facebook for the enterprise" indeed!

Sameer Patel
Sameer Patel

Thx, Emanuele. V kind. RE: Rypple being that foundation - No. Its a set of socialized objects that adds intelligence to the profile as you imply. But its the kind of critical stuff that truly gives both HR managers and fellow employees the insight needed to know who to rely on and when. The system of record still is and will always be a combination of whats in the core HRIS system, and these newer forms of implicit and explicit data points that truly expose the value and capabilities of a participant. Thanks, as always, for the thoughtful comments. - )

Sameer Patel
Sameer Patel

Thanks, Larry. Looking forward to seeing these investments rationalized/operationalized. 

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