Salesforce.com has made a newly expanded version of the AppExchange — a platform that extends its CRM suite to other business lines — generally available with its Winter ’06 release. The AppExchange connects users with new applications developed by such third-party vendors as Adobe, Business Objects and Skype.
Introduced last September on a limited basis, the AppExchange functions as a marketplace for on-demand software, services and components built by some 150 Salesforce.com partners that, taken together, vastly enlarges Salesforce.com’s original functionality.
“With AppExchange, Salesforce.com is empowering their platform so their CRM application can be used in other business lines and areas,” Yankee Group analyst Sheryl Kingstone told CRM Buyer.
Customers like it because they can build and customize new applications very easily, she added. Partners like it because they also find it easy to work with the new applications and can use them to broaden their footprint within a particular company.
Salesforce.com has completely rewritten its code base and replaced its hardware over the last few months in anticipation of the AppExchange’s general introduction, Phil Robinson, global VP marketing, told CRM Buyer. Currently there are 150 or so partners participating in the marketplace. The platform can support an almost unlimited ecosystem, though.
“Eventually, we would like to be able to offer customers thousands of applications on AppExchange from which to choose,” Robinson said.
The applications currently available on the AppExchange include products for finance, electronic signatures, document management, project management, credit and collections, mobile workforce management, data cleansing, professional services management and human resources, designed by such Salesforce.com partners as Adobe, Ascendus, Comergent, DreamFactory, Eloqua, Factiva, Forcelogix, Harte-Hanks Trillium Software, Remend, Skype, Talisma and USA.NET.
Some of the applications expand Salesforce.com’s footprint far beyond its original CRM mission. Remend REO Agent, for instance, which is going to be highlighted during CEO Marc Benioff’s presentation at the San Francisco kickoff, is a real-estate application that helps brokers manage properties from multiple servicers and lenders on the Web or by disconnected laptop.
Others, such as Skype for the AppExchange, are closer to the CRM family. This app, for instance, provides communications features — such as global outbound one-click voice calling, integrated inbound calling, presence, instant-messaging and multi-chat — directly within Salesforce.
“The AppExchange and our on-demand partners represent billions of dollars in company resources devoted to managing and sharing business information on demand,” Benioff said.
Salesforce.com’s Winter ’06 includes many feature upgrades, including a new user interface that is better able to support the multiple applications provided by the AppExchange, a territory-management engine that maximizes sales opportunities, an integrated campaign builder, customizable forecasting, streamlined analytics, Outlook Edition 2.0 and Offline Edition 2.0.
Salesforce.com also announced the availability of Salesforce Sandbox, a tool that allows users to create a customer replica environment for customization, integration, testing, development and training purposes for Enterprise Edition customers.