Salesforce.com (s CRM) today announced Jigsaw for Salesforce CRM, a crowd-sourced business data service exclusive to Salesforce CRM customers. Initially Jigsaw was a standalone product that leveraged crowdsourcing via its member community to create a highly accurate contact list of business throughout the world. Salesforce acquired Jigsaw back in April, and as I opined at that time, Jigsaw is a good example of a new entrant in a traditional market area disrupting the incumbents. It’s the ultimate business, the very data Jigsaw is selling is created, sorted and updated by its paying customer.
Since the acquisition, Jigsaw has been re-architected to work better within the Salesforce application, including a deep integration with Chatter, Salesforce’s real time status update service. With the new application, sales leads, changes of contact information and organizational profiles can be viewed within the salesforce application, all generated from up to date data created by real business interactions.
While the real time, highly accurate nature of the Jigsaw data is appealing, there is a significant barrier to the adoption of a crowdsourced approach. Many organizations consider the contact data for their customers to be an inherent part of their intellectual property and competitive advantage. Changes in the role of an important contact offer the business an opportunity to steal a lead on the opposition, and businesses are unlikely to be comfortable with leveling the playing field such that all their competitors share that same information.
Similarly, with so much data accruing about individuals on the social web, the fact that Jigsaw limits the data it collects to data entered by sales people misses a huge opportunity to be gained through the combination of contact information with social web content. New entrants in this market such as Etacts and Rapportive, both covered previously, are doing a great job of serving up social information about a contact within Gmail – services of this kind are attempting to span the divide between the social web and CRM – so-called social CRM offerings.
At $29 per user per month Jigsaw will appeal to sales teams that make use of contact lists. However for more progressive companies, aware of the value that lies within the social web, Jigsaw will offer little of value beyond the data cleansing aspects.
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Ben Kepes is an independent consultant and contributing writer for GigaOM. Please see his disclosure statement in his bio.