Readies Back-Office Apps

Module rollouts are scaled back; Benioff says company is profitable. Inc. is readying hosted back-office application services, but the company is scaling back earlier plans to roll out a complete spectrum of back-office software.

The hosted customer relationship management software provider has long planned to offer hosted back-office applications. Billing Edition is the first phase of that strategy and features hosted applications for billing and invoicing, electronic bill presentation, contract management, order management, and order entry. The first customers of the service, which was announced last year, should be live on Billing Edition any day now, said Marc Benioff, the companys chairman and CEO, in an interview with eWeek.

Full accounts receivable functionality is next on the companys list of services to add, he said.

However, Benioff, who once boldly predicted that would offer "every module that SAP [AG] has available to license" as part of its hosted service, has scaled down his ambitions. "Well offer back-office applications that are customer-facing," he said. "Were not going to be offering general ledger, payroll or [human resources]."

The San Francisco-based company instead will work to integrate its services with those applications its customers already have, Benioff added. itself uses Oracle Corp.s software for those applications.

Not all customers are eagerly awaiting the back-office services. Bob Kocanda, director of sales operations for Honeywell Inc.s Industrial Measurement and Control business, has 120 seats of Enterprise Edition, which his group uses for sales, marketing and customer service. But Honeywell IMC has standardized on Oracle applications for the back office, and Kocanda just wants better integration between those applications and his Salesforce. com applications.

HOSTING ON A ROLL milestones
  • In production with Billing Edition service
  • Readying accounts receivable service next
  • Filling out back-office suite over 18-24 months
  • Reached profitability
"Were hoping to get that link from the front-end customer contact and sales opportunities to order entry on the back end, then share information back and forth," said Kocanda, in Westmont, Ill.

With a software investment already made in Oracle, Kocanda said hes not looking to migrate to the Salesforce. com-hosted back-office applications, even though the front-office services have proved a good fit for his group. Ultimately, Honeywell IMC would like to tie together applications from first customer contact to manufacturing, he said.

"Weve looked at Oracle, SAP and, and no one has a total solution to do all of that. So we need them to give us the hooks," Kocanda said.

When late last month held its annual Freedom From Software celebration in New York, Benioff had extra reason to celebrate—his privately held company turned a profit. had $52 million in revenues last year, with $42 million more in deferred revenue based on contracts signed, revenue generated from 80,000 paying users, Benioff said. Revenues for this year are on pace to exceed $100 million.