NEW YORK - Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, whose company just cut a new deal with Twitter this week, is seeing the possibilities of cloud computing expand as more and more platforms - not just applications - move into the cloud.
Along with Google, Facebook, Microsoft, IBM and other companies, Salesforce has been making an aggressive push into cloud computing, recently focusing on expanding its SAAS (software-as-a-service) repertoire. The company currently maintains a Sales Cloud and Service Cloud.
"We've seen Google and Cisco and Omniture all come out and say the same thing," said Benioff, during a March 23 appearance to partially promote Salesforce's deal with Twitter. "Platforms are moving to a service. It's not just about apps; it's about platforms."
Salesforce has been busy adding functionality to its two main platforms: Sales Cloud and Service Cloud.
Sales Cloud, which allows clients to manage their sales contacts, forecast sales and perform other functions, has added two new applications: Integrated Deep Content Library and Genius.
Genius was an application taken from Amazon and Apple, Salesforce.com cheerfully admits.
By clicking on a button from the dashboard, users can search through deals that others in their company have closed, filter those deals by various criteria and then see what components of those deals made them successful. Slides from those previous deals' slide decks can be saved in the user's own content library.
A "Deliver Content" button will then allow the user to deliver content, including those slides from past presentations, to a sales prospect via an e-mail with a hyperlink to a private Website.
The Integrated Deep Content Library allows the user to query the company's PowerPoint presentations, PDF documents, Excel spreadsheets and other data to see what they can add to their own sales presentations.
Salesforce.com has also been adding new features to the Service Cloud.
On March 23, Salesforce announced that it was integrating Twitter into its Service Cloud, where it would operate alongside Facebook connections, Google search, online communities and other applications to provide a cloud-based customer service channel.
Salesforce took a few moments during its presentation to argue that Twitter is of great utility to the enterprise.
"There's a question that Twitter asks: 'What are you doing?'" Frank Eliason, director of Digital Care for Comcast, said during the presentation. "There's a lot of great data, data that marketers pay a lot of money for, and it's there for free."
Twitter could also play a more vital role as the use of social networking increases in the enterprise.
"Social networks have developed the power to not only influence customer buying patterns, but also how companies serve their customers and partners," Sheryl Kingstone, an analyst with the Yankee Group, said in a March 23 research note. "With social networking predicted to grow to 229 million users worldwide by 2012, the ability to harness the information found on those sites is a marketing and service powerhouse."
Salesforce announced record quarterly revenues of $290 million for the fiscal fourth quarter ended Jan. 31, posting net profits of $13.75 million and fiscal-year revenues of $1.077 billion.
On March 16, Salesforce also celebrated its 10-year anniversary. After originally starting in a small apartment in San Francisco, the CRM service has grown to include the Apex development language, Visualforce, the AppExchange platform and the Force.com "platform as a service." It also provides real-time upgrades to its applications.
During the presentation, the company touted the ability of clients to either download integrated applications from Force.com's AppExchange, or build their apps using Salesforce's cloud.
"We built a multitenant virtual machine that can execute your code," Benioff said during the presentation. "You're writing it in Apex and in our system, and because of that we can build apps five times faster. The real-time workflow and approval have been built directly into the system"
"You build your app, and you inherit our architecture," Benioff emphasized.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated with a comment from an analyst.