With the Winter 07 release, Salesforce announced AppSpace, a sort of mySpace portal for enterprise customers. The idea, according to Kendall Collins, vice president of marketing at Salesforce, is to provide Salesforce users with a branded, portal-based environment (thats not really a portal)—a place where companies can go to meet with their customers to discuss ideas and exchange applications.
"The problem with portals is theyve been closed, been proprietary and theyre expensive to install," said Collins, in San Mateo, Calif. "We [wanted to] reinvent the concept of a portal."
As with everything at Salesforce, there is a tie-in back to the companys products, both CRM [customer relationship management related] and development, or Apex, related. For $995 a month, an AppSpace user and 200 friends (really, customers) can share three different types of applications: those found on AppExchange, Salesforce.coms application marketplace; Salesforce CRM applications; or the 80,000-plus custom objects developed by customers and partners.
"Any of these applications can be dropped into AppSpace," said Collins, who cited examples of use cases from document sharing to project management.
Built on the Apex platform (which has both development and integration capabilities) AppSpace supports things like custom tabs, custom objects and workflow—functionality to help users customize a space to suit their needs.
Salesforce has used its own customer community—IdeaExchange, where users suggest development ideas, others rate and Salesforce developers troll for ideas—to build additional upgrades for the Spring 07 release. Two big ideas that have been incorporated include customizable search (which received 2,630 promotions on IdeaEchange) and time-based workflow (which received 2,700 promotions). The search feature lets users sort search results by column and create search filter layouts to help find specific types of records. Time-based workflow lets users schedule business processes to trigger time-based actions.
The Spring 07 release is available now to Salesforce.coms subscribers. AppSpace is scheduled for a limited release in April, with general availability in the third fiscal quarter of 2008.