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CRMBuyer.com

Salesforce.com on the Custom CRM Frontier

By Elizabeth Millard
Apr 14, 2004 1:51 PM PT

Salesforce.com, an on-demand CRM service provider, has announced the availability of Spring '04, a highly customizable CRM service.

Salesforce.com on the Custom CRM Frontier

The product already has been deployed to salesforce.com's customers worldwide. The company expects it will fit well with its other offerings and will prove to be compelling for customers that have been reluctant to go with on-demand services.

"It's a big myth that CRM can't be integrated or customized," salesforce.com chief marketing officer Tien Tzuo told CRM Buyer. "We've shown that it can be done."

New Features

With Spring '04, companies can create custom tabs with a new customization suite called salesforce.com Studio. The interface for Studio is the same as for other salesforce.com administration features, so no programming, software or servers are required. Through Studio, companies can customize all aspects of salesforce.com, including Web pages, data-entry forms and application extensions.

The three new tabs are for products, contracts and solutions, and they allow companies to browse, manage and secure complex product catalogs. It also accommodates changes in all 11 languages supported by salesforce.com, as well as different world currencies.

"Every company is unique," Tzuo said. "They have different needs, and the tabs can reflect how they run their business and what's important for that specific company."

Spring '04 also includes the sforce 3.0 on-demand platform to give developers programmatic control of CRM customization, integration and extension. The service boasts more customization capabilities than client-server software, according to salesforce.com.

Bringing It Together

Tzuo said sforce was notable for how it eased integration issues, and now that Spring '04 is going to work in combination with it, the company has high hopes for its prospects.

"We're seeing that the market is moving toward an on-demand model," he said. "Our goal is to make the best, and most global, service for that."

Customers that would not even look at on-demand CRM a few years ago now are either considering or using that model, Tzuo said. In response, salesforce.com has worked to ensure its CRM offerings are as easy to use as possible and integrate well with other systems.

"We have people integrating this with SAP, and even with Siebel," he noted. "We're happy with that success."

Deep Impact

Denis Pombriant, founder and analyst at Beagle Research, told CRM Buyer that this software release is a significant one, both for salesforce.com and the industry as a whole.

"What it brings to the table is customizability," he said. "That's one of the three big issues, the others being security and integration. Lack of customization has been one of the major reasons that organizations have been reticent about taking on a hosted solution."

By offering users an easy way to customize, salesforce.com should make a major impact in the market with Spring '04, Pombriant added.

"With this announcement, they go deep into solving both the integration and the customization problems," he said.

Tinkers and Tailors

Pombriant also expressed admiration for Spring '04's future growth potential. "One of the most important things is that this enables salesforce to leverage a large and unpaid corps of developers," he noted.

Indeed, administrators at a particular company who build different types of applications to go with Spring '04 will be adding functionality that can be used by other salesforce.com customers.

Pombriant noted that this model is similar to Linux, in that a group of devotees create something that can be shared. Also, as with some Linux applications, the results could be profitable.

"Having all these developers working on these applications gives salesforce tremendous capability to go head-to-head with the largest software shops," he said.

Because of that, the company is in a unique position, he noted. "I think this blurs the line between a hosted and an in-house solution. And that puts salesforce on equal footing with the other market players."


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