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Is Hosted CRM Viable?

Marc Songini of ComputerWorld emailed me to ask:

From a technology/market point of view–given the SaleForce.com crashes (and now that SAP is launching Hosted CRM) is Hosted CRM a viable source? Can we rely on it?

And I replied to him with this answer:

I think hosted crm will eventually get past these problems, but we’ve got a long way to go in terms of best practices for hosted alternatives.  SalesForce.com has just been too arrogant to acknowledge they are no where close to perfect yet.

Best practices may require maintaining all prior rollouts (except bug fixes) so that users can stay on the prior versions at least for a year or more, and upgrade (or downgrade) only when they are ready and the new release bugs have been shaken out.

The problem with what they do now is they rollout new versions and tell the users it affects "Sorry, too bad if you don’t like it. We like it and that’s what mattters." BaseCamp at www.BaseCampHq.com is especially bad at this, much worse than SalesForce.com even.

As for reliability which was the core of your question, I’m not sure the answer but they need to get to a lot more redundancy then they have now.  Ironically, a significant part of the answer might be to add software locally. But that would violate their "No Software" ideology which, IMO, is eventually going to back them into a corner from which they cannot extract themselves.

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