Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Endless Frustration: and Email Sync

With support for the Outlook Connector coming to an end with the roll-out of the Winter '16 release, Salesforce admins everywhere are researching email integration solutions. That is, of course, unless you're someone who had already previously found Salesforce's default level of email integration to be way too crappy.

As an Salesforce Admin, I'm not too engaged in day-to-day customer activity, so my own need for email integration has been rather limited. Additionally, since I live on a Mac and most of our users are on PC (and like using Outlook), the ugly dark pit of Outlook integration was something that I tried to hand off to the IT organization -- my best efforts were usually applied to a strategy of "I didn't get any on me, did I?" In that context, one of the reasons we actually chose as a CRM platform was that it was actually better at email integration than some of the other options that we looked at way back when. Funny, right?

The great "shift" to Salesforce for Outlook by Salesforce was the first big "Fuck You Customer", at least in the domain of email integration. At the time it was introduced, new 64-bit Windows systems were being rolled out, but the Outlook Connector didn't work with them. Instead, Salesforce decided to go down this path of Salesforce for Outlook. Sure it doesn't work with a lot of older systems. Sure it only syncs emails to leads, contacts and opportunities (like email to Salesforce). Sure we've put in specs that say that it requires Exchange. But you can administer this one from the cloud -- sort of. The bottom line was that it sucked. Hard. And when I spoke to the product managers at Dreamforce, they told me, "It should work with POP/IMAP -- we haven't really seen any issues -- you should just move forward using it." And they also said, "basically, you just need to use it, because this is the future -- there will be no more development on Outlook Connector." It sucks. Just eat it.

Now, here we are several years later, and instead of making it better for all of their users, they've alienated whatever percentage it is that does not use Exchange. You could look at it as a mistake, but four years of IdeaExchange complaining about email integration and an overall lack of any sort of rapid response is a pretty good indication that this is no accident. There's no one over in charge of email sync saying, "oops, this looks like it was a roadmap mistake, our bad." No, instead this has the aroma of a plan.

What I think that we're missing here is the "hidden" price increase. Now, you will pay for email integration to It is an ala carte option, available only through their partner network -- unless you are Microsoft email customer. For Microsoft email customers, Microsoft will subsidize the cost of your email and calendar integration.

It's moves like these that push you to consider competitive solutions. In the bigger picture, what that means is that Salesforce is increasingly moving the company into a place where they are ripe for disruption. As someone who has gone from the strong like end of the spectrum to the really dissatisfied end, I'm sure that I'm not alone. Given the right circumstances and the right solution, I could see a mass erosion of the Salesforce customer base -- sort of like the death of Syquest.

I still haven't determined the best path for email integration. Right now, I'm looking at Match My Email, which seems to be the best balance of Gmail and Outlook support. But, as I look through the details, I can't help but wonder -- why doesn't Salesforce do this themselves? Oh, because Fuck You Customers.

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