My call with a marvelously friendly and knowledgeable Frenchmen who is one of the Senior Product Managers has just ended. He graciously answered all of my questions and I feel I have some good information to move forward with our own implementation of Knowledge and some helpful information to share.
One of the biggest concerns surrounding the newly released Knowledge was the costing factor of which I included the link to my Idea in my original post. The understanding here is that this initial release of Knowledge came with a price for many different reasons. The primary one that made sense to me is kind of backward thinking but still makes sense. Eventually SF will replace Solutions, which answers why they are not investing in further development in regards to it. What they will be replacing Solutions with is a slightly scaled down free version of Knowledge. It seems based on our conversation that the strategic vision for Knowledge is much larger than what Solutions presents for us today and therefore SF feel justified in associating a cost with the Knowledge Application out of the gate and then following up with a free version sometime in the not too distant future. Stay tuned for a possible Winter 2011 release or at least somewhere within the 2011 release windows. Did I say Winter 2011? Ok that could float over to 2012 or what the heck maybe even 2013.
The second concern, that I had at least, was the seeming targeted focus that SF Knoweldge scalability to the large public facing SF Customer that channels like web searchable Knowledge Article and access to Article via Social Networks have a big contributing factor. Apologies, a mouthful of a sentance I know! I was thinking “what about us SF Customers who cannot serve our Customers Knowledge in a public fashion but have to serve them something that should be worthwhile and usable none the less!” Here I am concerned about the self-service angle. Where is the Suggested Article for the Portal User to encourage self-closure of their Cases and where is the Create an Article on Case Closure functionality that maybe I have come to be secure in because let’s be honest it’s all we have had to serve up Knowledge to our Customers to date. Thankfully functionality that has not been forgotten and enhanced upon. These capabilities will be available, hopefully, in the Summer 2010 release along with some API functionality and a probable migration tool/wizard to handle the gap between all those Solutions and how the heck to turn them into Knowledge Articles.
So what else do we have to look forward to in SF Knowledge? Obviously these are raw and not promised and by no means comprehensive a list but the Spring 2010 release we can look forward to Analytics surrounding Knowledge and also User Permissions and Security. There is a big play to position the underlying Dimensions engine in other aspects of Salesforce with the inclusion of that engine and the availability of Articles in the Answers Object/Arena. Answers is a sort of Ideas sort of Forum capability still in the process of being released by SF but it will be a solution to those of us with Portals and the desire to build private communities as well as the public sphere.
Anyhoo that kind of sums up my conversation with the SF Knowledge Product Manager and hopefully helps anyone reading this who is interested that Knowledge is going to be a very interesting and worthwhile ride.
P.S. I forgot to mention yes Knowledge will become available for Salesforce 2 Salesforce sometime after the API work is done, probably not until 2011 and there is a package of sorts that SFDC Professional Services have put together to handle your migration from Solutions to Knowledge. I am sure a call to Professional Services will unearth it, albeit with a cost.