Salesforce.com Customers Say New Analytics Should Be Included in Core Fees

Salesforce.com customers are sounding off about the fact that an upcoming Analytics Edition of the CRM (customer relationship management) software will have an additional price tag, saying that the functionality it includes should be part of their base subscriptions.

The company announced Analytics Edition, which will be part of its Spring 2012 release, last year. Analytics Edition will include several capabilities, such as joined reports, data "bucketing" and cross-filtering, according to an official blog post written in December.

"In general, features that you'd find in a BI tool would go into Analytics Edition, other features would be included with the other licenses," the post said. Salesforce.com plans to also continue enhancing the reporting features included with its CRM software, such as by increasing the number of filters on dashboards, it added.

But Salesforce.com customer Jeremy Farber, president of PC Recycler, a Virginia company that recycles computer equipment, isn't happy with the vendor's decision to price Analytics Edition separately. He began calling attention to the issue this week through various social media channels as well as Salesforce.com's website. "I'm trying to get people fired up about it," he said.

"They have things they come out with that they charge extra for, and I understand that," Farber added, citing the example of Salesforce.com's website builder, Siteforce. "I can understand them saying, 'Hey we want to charge you extra for that.' But [the planned Analytics Edition functionality] is at the core of reporting, and quite frankly, their reporting hasn't been that great."

Farber is also upset because features like those in Analytics Edition were suggested by many customers through Salesforce.com's IdeaExchange portal, where users can submit ideas for ways to improve the company's software.

"I've never seen them take what the community says should be core functionality and then turn around and charge for it," he said.

"Their software is amazing," Farber added. "It's done amazing things for our company. It's really cut a lot of costs out of our company. But I think they've got it wrong here, truthfully."

Farber's effort this week comes amid a rising drumbeat of complaints from other Salesforce.com customers over the pricing issue during the past several weeks.

"Reporting has been a very poor part of Salesforce's solution for years and [with] each renewal we've been told that better reporting functionality is coming," one wrote on the Analytics Edition blog post.

"Analytics is a sore spot for Salesforce, and you are just adding salt to the wound as the saying goes," another user wrote on the IdeaExchange. "Knowing that so many users have been asking for a very long time for this kind of functionality, and then making us pay for it is like holding our data hostage."

Asked for comment on the flap, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff said via email on Friday he was not familiar with the details of Analytics Edition, and referred the query to Salesforce.com's public relations department.

"As a social enterprise, customer success is always salesforce.com's number one priority," a spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "Many of our customers have been asking us to bring the magic of Salesforce to the aging BI market. Traditional BI is not delivering value to companies and is ripe for change."

"Our Salesforce.com Analytics Council, which is made up of dozens of Salesforce.com customers, advise us on the features and pricing based on their needs as a social enterprise," the statement added. "The pricing for Analytics Edition reflects an entirely new model for BI, delivering higher ROI for companies and individual employees."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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