Friday, March 28, 2008

Cloud Computing: Its Raining Ideas - Want a Cup of Starbucks?

I know I went overboard on metaphors in the title (cloud, rain, coffee) but then when you have the last few weeks like we have had at, its hard to not to have your head in the clouds. I know.

So here is the scoop, if you have been living under a rock: Starbucks rolled out its website powered by (Jeff Nolan was one of the first bloggers to pick this up). The press has had nothing but the nicest things to say.

Courtesy: by emergent007

As the software guy, here are my key takeaways:
  • Focus on Innovation, not Infrastructure: Starbucks could have spent its own time and resources building out the infrastructure, renting bandwidth and compute capacity etc. but it instead chose to focus on customer feedback and was able to deliver greater value to customers (and therefore shareholders), faster.
  • Simple is Beautiful: Starbucks website is really simple to use. A few neatly placed icons tell users exactly what to expect. You can view the ideas without creating a login. Voting and commenting require a login which makes sense.
  • Business Value: For the budding technologist who wants to be an entrepreneur - notice how a simple concept forums+voting can become a great product/service. I have often met technologists who are looking for the hard problems to solve rather than looking for simple solutions to real business problems.
If you have an idea for Starbucks, Dell or, please visit their ideas sites (all powered by Ideas).

If you have an idea to build an entirely new service that customers like Starbucks and Dell should use, come build it on and market it on Salesforce AppExchange.


Anonymous said...

Great post anshu. You can also link to's IdeaExchange as another example. In fact IdeaExchange was launched in October 2006.

For more best practices on creating your own community visit the Salesforce Ideas Blog.

Gopi Padakandla said...

Very good point Anshu. I agree that businesses should focus on building core competencies and maximizing value to shareholders instead of trying to pioneer tech infrastructures and I believe that's where SaaS innovations are of tremendous value. I expressed similar opinion on Talent Management SaaS solution at

Anonymous said...

I agree that listening to customers is right for starbucks, but the channel it chose is wrong. Something wrong to assume that all hardcore starbucks fans go to starbucks website to give feedback. Rather I would say add such electronic feedback kiosk in each starbucks. I won't mind giving my feedback while my coffee is getting ready. But I never visited starbucks website, nor will ever go there. This is not to blame salesforce. Hosting ideas apps is great, but not appropriate for satrbucks. It makes more sense for SFDC ideaexchange or any other internet driven business.

Anonymous said...

Great post! Very near to our hearts as we will explain.

The best form of flattery a vendor can give a customer/consumer is to listen to them. Even better, how about soliciting constructive comments -- that can result in profitable change? Here's a great example of all the Web 2.0 goodies that can be put to work for any organization.

If you are looking for a SaaS and enterprise friendly solution to make this happen, talk to us. Yup -- sounds counter-intuitive but we've built our solution solution acknowledging the fact that this solution has to co-exist in the enterprise eco-system. It also works if you are designing from a blank canvas :)

We will be doing a public launch later this summer, but let me know if you want a sneak peek. Our website is at and we will be adding more content over the next few weeks.