Upgrades Hosted CRM Service

The company unveiled its Winter '04 releases of its service and its Sforce hosted app server. Inc. has upgraded its namesake hosted customer relationship management application service and Sforce hosted application server to broaden the platform and give users greater customization capabilities.

The company last week unveiled the Winter 04 release of the service at its inaugural Dreamforce user and developer conference in its hometown, San Francisco. The upgrade features a new dashboard that integrates corporate metrics with key business performance indicators.

"Its a fully integrated, modular dashboard environment," said Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff. "Users have been asking for a simple graphical way to look at all of their data." Winter 04 adds workflow automation to enable the creation of business rules and triggers. The upgrade supports sending alerts of new business events and showcases contract management improvements that support the creating and tracking of customer contracts. It supports 11 languages and currencies.

The hosted services offer improved customization capabilities and integration with desktop applications, thanks to new controls and a Web services API in Sforce 2.0, Salesforce.coms hosted application server and development environment.

Sforce 2.0, which was also introduced, supports custom object definition for customization and new controls for extending user interfaces to specific requirements.

Another new feature is an API that is based on Simple Object Access Protocol and Web Services Description Language and that makes an enterprises data and business process model available to popular development environments such as BEA Systems Inc.s WebLogic, Borland Software Corp.s JBuilder X and Microsoft Corp.s Visual Studio. Net.

Sforce 2.0 also includes a new object query language to query objects through the API via a SQL-like syntax and workflow controls for triggering business rules and automating business processes.

"With Sforce 2.0, therell be much greater levels of customization where you can even now store your code on Sforce and then populate itself with your own applications, so we can run and extend with your own ActiveX objects, JavaScript objects, Java objects, etc.," Benioff said. "Also, you can create your own applications. You can even create your own database now in Sforce with our new custom objects capability."

The company also announced a partnership with Research In Motion Ltd., of Waterloo, Ontario, to allow customers to access their hosted applications via RIMs BlackBerry wireless devices.

Sforce 2.0 is included as part of Winter 04. Salesforce.coms 8,000-plus customers were upgraded to the new services automatically.