Aims to Expand Subscriber Base with Multiforce

By John Pallatto  |  Posted 2005-06-21 Aims to Expand Subscriber Base with Multiforce

SAN FRANCISCO—With the official release Tuesday of its Multiforce 1.0 operating system and the Customforce 2.0 application customization tool, is making clear that it plans to grow by constantly expanding its subscriber base, not by offering a more diverse application suite. will rely on partners and customers to create new applications that all run on top of the Multiforce on demand operating system, which gives customers access to the companys Web-based CRM (customer relationship management) and customer service applications.

"A whole ecosystem of companies has emerged around us…who have been able to extend our application with Customforce," said CEO Mark Benioff.

The goal of the combination of Multiforce and Customforce is to give customers and independent software vendors the means to create an unlimited number of add-ons and extensions to the platform, Benioff said.

To grow and prosper, Salesforce doesnt have to introduce a diverse range of enterprise applications to try to turn into another SAP or another Oracle, said Phill Robinson, senior vice president of global marketing.

Instead it has to attract an ever-increasing population of subscribers who want to work with Salesforce, Customforce and Multiforce as an application platform, Robinson said.

Click here to read more about the latest CRM product features from and Siebel Systems.

Its not even essential that customers start with the Salesforce sales automation and customer service application, he said. They might want to start with Customforce to build anything from a human resources management applications to a database query system, Robinson said.

Customforce will allow any developer anywhere in the world who has Internet access to log on to to create niche business applications that large software companies would have interest in building, he said.

"There are hundreds and thousands of niche applications that were never built because theyre just not economically viable for the big companies to develop" that are now in reach of developers everywhere, he said.

Applications that have been built with custom force include expense reporting, recruiting, project management and schedule management.

Benioff suggested that customers shouldnt bother to buy enterprise databases or storage systems for their application data. They should simply rely on Salesforce.coms on demand infrastructure to provide the entire application platform, he said.

Next Page: Breaking down barriers.

Breaking Down Barriers

Multiforce and Customforce lower the barrier to entry because there doesnt have to be any upfront investment in expensive development tools, operating systems or databases, he said. Customers only need to be able to afford the cost of a subscription, said Benioff.

That means that programmers in developing countries, whether they are in Mumbai, Delhi, Shanghai or Beijing, can start developing applications without a lot of venture cash backing them, he said. describes Multiforce 1.0 as the industrys first on-demand operating system that allows applications to share a common data and security model running under a Web browser interface.

Multiforce enables multiple applications to share common data sets, supports cross organizational collaboration and helps eliminate information silos within an organization.

Some of the new functionality built into Customforce 2.0 includes analytics for real-time analysis of business data, spreadsheet-style formulas for calculation that can be applied to any application field, pre-build business processes, such as discounting, quota attainment, price totals, case aging and auto-dialing.

Customforce also provides standard related lists that show relevant data for accounts, contacts, opportunities and cases.

The Summer 05 release includes support for a variety of sales methodologies, customizable sales forecasting, marketing analytics and mass address updates.

Ease of implementation for is one of the top reasons why Sybase Inc. and Electronics for Imaging Inc. decided to implement the CRM package.

Sybase, a provider of information management applications based in Dublin, Calif., was able to implement Salesforce CRM in about three months, said Thomas Volk, executive vice president of the companys international sales organization. "The whole corporation is using" with about 700 users, he said.

"People like to use it," which is more than can be said for other CRM packages on the market, he said.

Volk said he has had experience with other CRM packages that offered "great technology, but it was very hard to enter data and as long as there is no data there is little value" in the application.

Click here to read about the enhanced links between and Pervasive Software data integration technology.

Electronics for Imaging, based in Foster City, Calif., said the company looked at because it needed a CRM package that "was going to change and grow with us," said Fred Rosenzweig, company president.

EFI was literally ready to sign a deal with SAP AG when called about its service, Rosenzweig said. Because SAP "didnt follow up with us very well, they lost a deal and they will never get back in," he said.

EFI has been using for more than two years, and Rosenzweig said the CRM package "has been the thread that has held the company together, and we intend to continue to grow with it."

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about customer relationship management solutions.

Rocket Fuel