Monday, August 1, 2016 Functionality Erosion and Find Nearby Accounts

If you've used for any length of time, then I guarantee that this has happened to you. You find some nice little piece of code that mashes together some integrated functionality, like the Find Nearby Accounts app, you deploy it and your sales team gets excited about it. And then, the next thing you know, that free functionality is gone. And now, replacing that cool little functionality that made you feel happy that you were using the Salesforce platform, you learn that the climate has changed, the winds are blowing a different way, and the only way for you to get that functionality back is to buy some third party AppExchange add-on solution for the low low price of $$ per user per month. Or maybe the pricing is easier -- just one big flat annual payment.

Yup. It's the Salesforce functionality erosion game, and over the years I've seen it played out numerous times across different core functionality pieces. First there was Salesforce for Adwords. Wanna know where that Web-to-Lead inquiry came from? Now it will cost you $1000-$5000 a year. Or more. But hey, these new tools do way more than than the free thing you used to use. And besides, we can't support that anymore because Google won't let us.

And then there's Salesforce's Outlook integration. Yeah, that was free. But then they moved to Salesforce for Outlook; still free, but not as good (for a couple of years). And then, after supporting IMAP syncing, it suddenly didn't. But it works if you have an Office365 account and give Microsoft $15 per user per month.

And so they offer everyone else "SalesforceIQ" as the replacement email integration -- email sync with a brain. Except that the brain is rather unintelligent, possibly more annoying than helpful, but even better than that, they changed that to "Let's charge for that". If I only had a nickel for everytime another SalesforceIQ sales guy contacted me trying to get me to pay $10-15 per user per month, I might be the one with my name on a hospital.

And then there's Find Nearby Accounts. It was a great tool years ago. Initially, it was a free tool from Salesforce Labs, just something that they cooked up. Essentially, it was an example for how to do things in the Developer Cookbook. And then, they went through and improved it, made it more graphical, and turned it into a managed package. And for a while, it was even better. Then Google announced that they were changing the terms of their Google Maps API. Now, you could only use Find Nearby Accounts if you had a Google For Business license (the Google Maps API was used to locate the addresses and in plotting the map). And suddenly support for the App was gone. What about people with the Google business license? Bummer for you. Of course, you could always use a third party mapping app for $10-25 per user per month.

Invariably, it always plays out the same way. I'm not saying that it's a conspiracy, but clearly for any of the partnerships that they want to offer or the cross-functionality that they want to negotiate for, there is one inevitable truth. If the functionality is important to you, you'll pay somebody for it. Besides, software-wise, where else are you going to go?