Salesforce.com Adds Portal Tool Kit to CRM Package
Salesforce.com Adds Portal Tool Kit to CRM Package
SAN FRANCISCOSalesforce.com Tuesday previewed a new partner portal development tool and an updated version of its Sforce application-integration tool that are key elements of the Summer 05 edition of its hosted customer relationship management package.
The Sforce Partner Portal Toolkit is designed to make it easy for companies to build Web-based portals that allow them to share information and do business with partners, according to Salesforce.com Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff.
The Java-based portal kit provides all the source code and components for rapidly building portals for sharing sales leads, business contacts, design documents, and specifications for products and equipment, Benioff said.
Salesforce.com also announced Tuesday that the company will release its major Sforce tool kits, including the new Sforce Partner Portal and its STAPI (Salesforce Telephony API) tool kit, as open-source code on its Sforce Sourceforge project Web site.
The STAPI tool kit allows customers to build telephony features into their Salesforce.com applications, such as the ability to make outbound calls directly from within Salesforce.com using the customers existing telephone switch.
Benioff said Salesforce.coms overall goal isnt to grow its business by expanding its product line with individual applications to serve specific customer needs. Its goal is to give customers tools so they can rapidly assemble applications they need without heavy programming to serve their own organizations and to work with partners, he said.
Building online links with business partners used to be a complex process that required a lot of IT department involvement in building extranets or other secure portals to enable trading or information sharing.
With the hosted-portal tool kit, businesses can build applications for project management, product development, customer information, scheduling, time tracking or any other need.
Magma Design Automation Inc., a developer of electronic chip-design automation software, has become an early user of the portal tool kit so that it could build Web sites that allow it to share design and bug-tracking information with individual customers.
The portal provides a way for Magma Design to keep up with all chip technology development that its customers are working with so its software development can keep pace, said Dave Brooks, director of CRM with Magma Design in Austin, Texas.
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Magma Design produces software that is used by most of the world chip and electronics producers, he said. "The rules keep changing all the time," Brooks said, and that means, "our software is never done."
For customers, getting the latest software updates and bug fixes is critical because if they miss shipping dates for their latest chip designs, "they may not recover their money, because the industry moves very fast," Brooks said.
The Salesforce.com Portal Toolkit allows a timely, two-way flow of information about bug reports, design changes and new product specifications, Brooks said.
The portal tool kit is an effective tool for building new application objects or tasks in as little as 15 or 20 minutes. Magma can configure these objects to be visible only to the managers and employees who need access on both sides of the partnership, he explained.
Salesforce.com also previewed Sforce 6.0, the latest version of its data- and application-integration Web services interface. The new version will include the Sforce Data Loader, which is a data extraction tool that allows customers to import, export and update data between Salesforce.com applications and external applications such as ERP (enterprise resource planning) applications and legacy customer support applications.
The Data Loader includes an easy-to-use wizard to help users locate and select data for import or export.
The Sforce single sign-in feature enables subscribers to integrate their existing Windows or LDAP-based log-on information so they can centrally define and control password policies or application-access authority.
The Sforce Self-Service API enables customers that have implemented the Supportforce Customer Self-Service Portal on their Web sites to connect the portal to other data systems, such as customer support applications, third-party portals and identity management systems.
The Summer 05 release will also include what Salesforce.com has dubbed the Multiforce on-demand operating system, which allows customers to readily switch between different Salesforce.com and Supportforce applications with a single sign-on.
This will allow customers to use the same data model, security system and user interface for any application by customers or their partners using the Customforce or the Sforce platforms. Customforce is the application-customization interface that allows users to add new features or integrate new applications into the basic Salesforce.com applications.
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