Sunday, March 6, 2011

Salesforce Product Links Firms, Customers On Social Networks

NEW YORK (Dow Jones) Inc. (CRM) Chief Executive Marc Benioff announced Thursday a product that will enable clients to more easily engage with their customers through Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.

The product, dubbed Service Cloud 3, is part of the San Francisco company's broader push to make its software-as-a-service technology more of a social experience. Salesforce's service cloud, which has more than 15,000 customers, aims to aggregate pools of information across the Internet and provide a platform for customer service.

"The world is going social," Benioff said Thursday at a conference at New York City's Javits Center. "I want to know why all enterprise software isn't more like Facebook. If it can be this powerful in the consumer world, why can't it be the same for the enterprise world?" Benioff also criticized rivals that he says aren't incorporating the social atmosphere in their products.

Cloud 3 lets businesses monitor and respond to customer feedback appearing on social-networking sites. Salesforce says its product will enable companies to monitor all that data in a more efficient manner.

Salesforce has been investing heavily recently in making its products more social. Chatter, with its Facebook-like interface, is a prime example; the company advertised the product during the Super Bowl. Thursday, Benioff touted Chatter's growth, noting more than 85% of the company's 92,300 total paying customers have deployed Chatter since its release in June.

"It's been our most successful product ever," he said, noting the decision to implement social elements into Salesforce's business model wasn't a difficult one to make, especially as consumers have flocked to Facebook and Twitter. "We're seeing wall-to-wall adoption with Chatter at a rate that we've never seen before."

The unveiling of Service Cloud 3 comes as Salesforce has made some acquisitions and released a slew of new features in recent months. Salesforce announced earlier this year that it acquired messaging and screen-sharing company Dimdim for about $31 million, building on Chatter's rapid adoption. In December, Salesforce unveiled, a database-as-a-service product that competes in a market estimated to be worth more than $20 billion.


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