Salesforce.com and Google have extended their ongoing relationship to enable tighter integration between Google Apps and Salesforce on-demand customer relationship management software.
The new online service, called Salesforce for Google Apps, allows current Salesforce customers to directly work with the Gmail, Google Talk, Google Calendar, and the Google Docs spreadsheet, presentations and word processing applications from within the Salesforce.com platform.
Salesforce.com’s 1 million paying subscribers will gain immediate access to Salesforce for Google Apps free of charge, company officials said. The millions of current Google Apps customers will also be able to access Salesforce for Google Apps, opening up a huge new market for Salesforce.com.
This summer, Salesforce.com will release a related product called Salesforce for Google Apps Supported, which provides telephone end-user support, unified billing and provisioning, enhanced platform APIs, additional third-party applications, and what it calls “advanced Google Apps functionality.” This product will cost $10 per user per month.
Salesforce for Google Apps is not just a hot button interface between Salesforce and Google apps, but an integrated product jointly developed by Salesforce and Google, company officials said.
The new product will allow sales organizations, marketing groups and support teams to create, manage and share online documents, spreadsheets and presentations to bolster work group collaboration. They can also use Gmail to send, receive and store e-mail messages to maintain a record of customer interactions to improve sales follow-through and customer satisfaction.
In addition, users will be able to link sales tasks, events, meetings and marketing campaigns from Salesforce to Google Calendar through applications built by Salesforce partner Appirio.
Finally, Salesforce customers will be able to communicate to customers and prospects through Google Talk and have the option to attach the text of Google conversations to prospect and customer records.
The release of Salesforce for Google Apps is significant because it potentially appeals to software vendors and even their customers who want to commit to relying entirely on cloud computing, said Denis Pombriant, principal analyst with Beagle Research.
“I’m beginning to see a number of vendors taking the pledge to do everything on demand,” Pombriant said. “I expect that whole companies will want to commit to this style of doing business” if it makes sense for their business model, he said.
This is what “needs to happen if you are going to say that on demand is a full-replacement” alternative to on-premises licensed software, Pombriant said.
The deal between Salesforce and Google “has to be a shot across the bow of Microsoft because Microsoft still makes a lot of money selling boxes packed with software” distributed on CDs, he said.
Pombriant believes that in time more software buyers will make a greater commitment to on-demand applications if they are convinced that it is as reliable and productive as on-premises software.