Disclosure – I was assisted in attending the recent Enteprise 2.0 conference in Boston by Intuit – however, while they are mentioned in the post, this is not a look at Intuit in particular, rather generally at platform plays.
After spending time talking to Intuit about it’s Partner Platform a few weeks ago, and getting more of an insight from talking to them face-to-face in Boston recently, I thought I’d touch based with some vendors banking on success through platform presence.
VerticalResponse is an eight year veteran in direct mail and email marketing and its flagship application enables businesses to run their own email campaigns. They have around 60000 customers worldwide (or as wide as the English speaking world – their product is only available in English thus far). Breaking the mold somewhat – VerticalResponse does way more than simple email campaigns. It is also allows for such varied direct marketing needs as postcards, online surveys, image hosting, marketing calendars as well as wrapping it all up with some community attributes (there is a “marketing lounge” within the VerticalResponse site for marketers to leverage the knowledge of their peers. I spoke with CEO and Founder Janine Popick on life sitting on a platform.
This post isn’t really a review of VerticalResponse however but I’ve placed a screen capture of their dashboard below – both to show how it looks within the Intuit platform but also to give you a taste for their offering – it’s well worth a look. You’ll notice the ability to seamlessly use an organisation’s Workplace data within the VerticalResponse application itself.
VerticalResponse has a history of joining platform plays, they have been involved with salesforce.com since 2003, even before the advent of the appexchange and at that time had to rely on people within salesforce remembering the integration between their own application and VerticalResponse. As such Popick is well placed to see the difference a customer facing platform makes, with it enabling the increased visibility of individual applications. VerticalResponse is in fact the number one downloaded application hosted on the app exchange.
I specifically wanted to get Popick’s view on foregoing some revenue in order to harness a larger potential customer base that a platform play may offer. Her answer to my question regarding the risks of being seen to be heavily “in bed” with any particular platform player was that;
It’s one of those things where, however the customer wants to use us we want to make the customer happy. So if they want to use us through [a platform] we’re happy that they use us through that. If they want to download and upload data because they have their own way of doing things we’re happy with that.
I think that there’s a definite case for making platforms more independent from the companies that sit behind them. While Intuit is less demanding of its platform partners on the IPP than salesforce.com is of it’s ones on force.com, both platforms arguably run the risk as being very focussed on the respective apps (QuickBooks and salesforce respectively) – the best way to avoid some of this tarnishing of the platforms is to let them run as an independent entities.
I’m going to watch with interest how the platform battle develops.