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Salesforce.com moves to make enterprise more social

When you hold the world's largest software technology conferences in the world, you expect to announce a few innovations to your flagship product. True to form, Salesforce.com has announced several additional products and services based around the theme of 'the social enterprise' at its Dreamforce 2011 event in San Francisco.

Dreamforce is a big deal for the CRM vendor that is widely considered the post child of software-as-a-service success. Despite economic uncertainty, the company recently raised its outlooks for the fiscal year. In the Asia-Pacific region, revenues grew 42 per cent for the second quarter of the financial year 2012, which ended on 31 July.

"We are clearly very happy with our results and we now have more than 100,000 customers - that is individual companies that are now using salesforce," said Salesforce.com senior vice-president, for Asia-Pacific enterprise sales, Steve McWhirter.

More than 42,000 delegates are slated to attend the event, including more than 300 business partners. Keynote speakers include the former CIO of the US government, Vivek Kundra, and Google chairman and CEO, Eric Schmidt.

Salesforce.com hopes to expand on the success of its social enterprise application, Chatter, announcing a range of additions to enable its enterprise customers to make the most of collaboration both internally and with outside providers and customers. Chatter Now will add presence to the product, enabling users to see other users and share documents. Chatter Connect will provide a set of application programming interfaces (APIs) so developers can integrate other enterprise applications, such as Sharepoint, into the platform. And Chatter Customer Groups will enable working groups to allow people outside the organisation to use the Chatter product - even if they don't normally use Chatter.

"Chatter is the cornerstone of an organisation. It is gives you the ability to impart the knowledge of a team on the fly and it is something that has been very well received by our customers," said McWhirter.

According to McWhirter the acquisition of social media monitoring tool, Radian6, had enabled Saleforce.com to aggregate the feed from social networking sites and incorporate that into its ‘Sales Cloud’ Saleforce automation product and its ‘Service Cloud’.

"Clearly, we are proud of Chatter. It is our most successful and fastest-selling product ever in the history of Saleforce.com. More than 100,000 companies now use Chatter globally and we are seeing a huge reduction in the use of email, meetings and so on. Many customers I talk to tell me Chatter has revolutionised the way they do business. We are going to take this one step further."

The new products will be available by the end of this year.

McWhirter said Chatter Customer Groups had arisen from customer feedback.

"Imagine if you could bring in your business partners or your remote legal team from the outside and to manage and control that," he said. "We have lots of customers talking about this. If they need to collaborate with a supplier, that might only take place for a couple of hours a month, but the ability to bring that supplier into a private Chatter group within the company can provide a huge advantage and cut down on a lot of wasted time."

Salesforce.com aims to build these products into its Service Cloud to help enterprises streamline the say they approach customer service.

"If you call into a call centre, the person generally uses a knowledge base to respond," McWhirter said. "Imagine if the knowledge base was expanded to include all the social networking feeds, and you can tell where each feed comes from. Chatter Service will provide the ability to build this huge amount of collaboration between you and the customer service centre."

Salesforce.com also announced its next generation of applications would be built on HTML5 for cross-platform mobile environments.

"We are now in a 'touch' world. Our next generation of software is built on HTML5 and this will give it a more rich and interactive experience. It will enable all of those apps to run on any mobile device so you will be able to get the same level of experience, the same interactive experience.

"It's the experience inside the browser that makes it look like a native app. We continue to work with our customers to ensure more customisation with every version of Salesforce."

Georgina Swan travelled to Dreamforce 2011 as a guest of Salesforce.com


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