A while ago Blackbaud released Blackbaud Enterprise CRM. For me as an observer of all things Blackbaud related I don’t remember exactly when BBEC was released. There was no big announcement but instead there were small releases of information over an extended period of time. First it was snippets of information about the Infinity platform, then announcements that various organisations had selected BBEC and then finally mutterings of information about RE8. The gradual increase of information about the product range has, over time, increased the expectations of Blackbaud’s customers towards the release of RE8. This was no bad thing. Such releases of information, whether officially from Blackbaud or just speculation from within the community creates a buzz around the product. (Such a model has worked wonders for each of Apple’s releases). Unfortunately buzz can lead to hype which can lead to frustration. RE8 has this mythical quality about it. While most people realise that it is more than just vaporware (given the release of BBEC) there is nothing, as yet, tangible.
When Blackbaud went from RE6 to RE7 there was a lot of criticism that the product was not finished. There was a lot of dissatisfaction with the initial product because it did not work as expected. BBEC could not be released quickly due to the nature of implementing an enterprise wide system. It takes time. With RE8 there is a dilemma and, as such, an associated risk. If released too soon then much of the functionality will not be sufficiently mature. On the other hand, if Blackbaud waits they run the risk of frustrating their clients and creating a lot of bad will.
As it stands now it appears as though an upgrade process will move the RE7 data to the new RE8 database. It will not upgrade queries, exports, custom reports and customisations. The big risk for Blackbaud is that if organisations are going to have to reproduce these areas of the application in RE8 which will no doubt take some effort, they may investigate the alternative software available to them.