Cloud Service Providers Scale Back Features to Reduce Operating Costs

We wrote earlier in this blog on LinkedIn (http://www NULL.linkedin NULL.com). Specifically, we commented that we saw too little value in LinkedIn’s subscription offers to justify maintaining a paid corporate subscription for any significant period of time. We now need to update our earlier observations to add that it appears to us that LinkedIn is reducing the amount of information provided about contacts that we would refer to as “distant”, meaning 3 or more steps removed from a LinkedIn user. Of course, it is understandable that the cost of services, over time, will escalate; but we think LinkedIn should be providing some greater value to users to justify increases in cost of service, rather than stripping services of the basic features that users have come to take as basic to the service. Looking at this product development tactic from a prominent cloud service provider like LinkedIn from 30,000 feet, we have to note that the product marketing effort seems pretty amateurish to us.

But LinkedIn is not the only cloud business to wield the feature-reduction sword as a method of raising cash. One of our clients maintains a paid account (a group subscription) with Salesforce dot com (http://www NULL.salesforce NULL.com). Months ago we could reach support personnel on a telephone call when problems arose with Salesforce. Recently we needed some support configuring activity reports. We were disappointed to find that the only method available to us of reaching support was to submit a request for support via email. Further, the request form was peppered with questions at to the “severity” of our issue, which we took to be a pretty crude method of justifying a slow rate of response for requests that were not submitted as “critical” or “urgent”. Of course, most honest users will not attempt to characterize a request for some support as “urgent” if, in fact, systems are working and users can still process their work.

It took Salesforce support 3 business days to get back to us on our request. We think that amount of time is unacceptable, regardless of the level at which a business is subscribing to the service. But the worst part of this experience was the fact that the support technician who reached out to us informed us that what we were looking for was not available at our level of subscription at all. We should explain that we were merely trying to produce 1 activity report for efforts made for “leads” along with efforts made for “accounts”. We can’t see how this request is very sophisticated, at all, and, by no means the basis of a big change upwards in subscription cost.

Finally, we read today (December 7, 2012) that Google is dispensing with its free “Apps” offer. Here we go again.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

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