SAN FRANCISCO—Salesforce.com is rolling out two new applications that are designed to extend its application set from four to six, but will still keep the company rooted to its origins: CRM.
The new Salesforce Content and Ideas applications, announced at the companys Dreamforce user conference here Sept. 17, will grow the use of Salesforce.coms applications from what might typically be the sales, support and marketing teams—and IT, as Salesforce creeps ever deeper into the platform market—to just about any department within an enterprise. Salesforce Content, for example, provides a raft of Web 2.0 technologies—tagging, subscriptions, recommendations—that help users to manage unstructured data. Salesforce Ideas is a service that enables companies to build communities where participants can post and vote on ideas.
Based on its own experience with IdeaExchange, a Web page on the Salesforce.com site that lets just about anyone post ideas for upgrades and rate other ideas—and where much of Salesforce.coms development initiatives stem from—Ideas enables customers to build online communities where participants can submit, discuss and promote concepts around such issues as software development. Salesforce officials said in a statement that its own internal use of IdeaExchange has “changed the face of development,” with customers and partners shaping future product releases in live debates. To date, more than 5,000 ideas have been posted and “numerous” ideas have been incorporated into Salesforce applications.
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“Just like Digg enables people to discover, share and rank content from anywhere on the Web, Salesforce Ideas will enable this same level of community-driven success for business,” Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff said during his keynote address. “We experienced breakthrough innovation based on the idea that were living and breathing in our community and surfaced through the wild popularity of IdeaExchange. Now, were giving customers the ability to tap into all their own communities to accelerate innovation.”
The Ideas app is built on Salesforce.coms Force.com platform, formerly called Apex. At its 2006 user conference, Salesforce.com launched its Apex programming language and platform—a combined on-demand, multi-tenant development environment. At this years show the company unveiled Force.com, the culmination of the Apex platform that includes Visualforce, a service that lets customers and ISVs [independent software vendors] build their own user interfaces either on top of Salesforce applications or with their own applications using Apex.
The Salesforce Content application is also about leveraging the power of crowds, officials said, but it picks up more on the concept of content management as a service. Essentially, the application lets users manage their documents and unstructured data in the Salesforce application.
Both applications are part of Salesforce.coms Winter 08 release, the companys 24th generation of its on-demand CRM (customer relationship management) software.
The idea behind the two new applications is, as Benioff pointed out, to establish the company as a “multi-application, multi-category company” in the on-demand space. Its a fine line to walk as Salesforce propels itself into the platform market—with competitors like IBM, Oracle, BEA Systems and Microsoft—and still tries to maintain its prominence in the CRM market.
“The platform first and foremost is our differentiator from all other CRM companies,” Benioff said during a question-and-answer session with press and analysts. “Thats what the platform is first and foremost about. No one else has built CRM with those capabilities. When were doing our head-to-head demonstrations [against competitors] I can assure you the demos do not look anything alike. We hope our strategy is the right one.”
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