Yesterday I had the opportunity of attending the eBay Developer Conference in downtown San Jose. It was a great opportunity to listen, learn and talk to folks about the future of e-commerce. I particularly enjoyed Gene Alverez from Gartner and his take on how the convergence of Web 2.0, Mobile, e-Commerce, and Social Media will change how we do business on the internet. In Gene's words, things will change at the speed of light.
Gene spent some time focusing on context aware computing which included four dimensions: identify (who you are), location (where are you, and what is around you), processes (buying, selling, learning), and communities (if an e-commerce site knows who your friends are, this is a powerful tool for leveraging recommendations). What it all boiled down to, however, was that e-commerce solutions need to for on me—the buyer.
It is a logical extension that any good e-commerce needs to manage their customers well. Salesforce provides the worlds best CRM solution, but it is also built on an amazingly extensible platform called Force.com.
The power of convergence was very visible during my presentation with Jon Jessup where Jon demonstrated his company's application for managing eBay listings and fulfillment from within Salesforce: combine best in class CRM, flexible platform and the worlds largest marketplace, and you get incredibly intuitive, customer centric solutions.
Imagine taking the Free Force.com Edition, connecting it to eBay to manage your marketplace listings and the long tail of the customer buying experience (shipping, returns, complaints etc), and with very little financial investment (for the first 100 users, the Free Force.com Edition is just that—free!) you can have a e-commerce solution that rivals the biggest names in the business. Throw in a smattering of Chatter to have inventory items tell you when they are getting low, when new customer orders are delayed, shipped, etc…and I think we get very close to Gene's vision of context aware computing.
If you are interested in learning more about Free Force.com Edition, make sure you attend the Developer Conference on June 22nd where I will be hosting three sessions that will take you from design, to build all the way to go-live of a production quality Request Tracking Application. It is going to be a great event, so bring your laptop and be prepared to leave with a live app!