At Dreamforce conference, Salesforce.com's marketing, development platform, and HTML5 announcements point to consolidation of acquisitions even as it adds new file-sharing, social, and collaborative capabilities.
Salesforce.com's Marketing Cloud will unify Radian6 and Buddy Media. Force.com and Heroku are coming closer together as a single development environment. And HTML5-based Touch interfaces will gradually offer a single approach to mobile application delivery.
These are just a few of the announcements set for Wednesday at the vendor's big annual Dreamforce event in San Francisco. The big-picture trend across the many announcements is an effort to simultaneously extend and simplify a sprawling cloud portfolio that now includes six distinct product lines built on components from multiple acquisitions.
Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff will surely talk about "unification" and "simplification" rather than "consolidation" during his planned three-hour keynote on Wednesday. A bigger spotlight is likely to shine on the many new capabilities to be announced here. Well before this week's event, Benioff preannounced that the company will introduce a new Dropbox.com/Box.com-like file sharing service. The service will be called ChatterBox, as it will marry file sharing with the company's Chatter collaboration service.
"Since the output of work is most often represented as a file, Chatter should instantly become a much richer environment for collaboration [with the addition of file sharing]," stated Wells Fargo equity analyst Jason Maynard in a research note published this week.
In another extension of Chatter, Salesforce will introduce Chatter Communities for Partners. Existing partner portals are too often limited to two-way collaboration, according to Salesforce, so Chatter Communities for Partners is designed to ease business-to-business collaboration among multiple parties. Due out this fall, the service will enable partners to create and collaborate within secure, private online workspaces. A hardware supplier, software supplier, and systems integrator partnered on a single product or product line, for example, could create a community to securely share leads, deal information, and service and implementation details across all three companies.
Salesforce.com is also introducing Work.com, a rebuilt and rebranded version of Ryyple, the cloud-based social goal-setting and performance review system it acquired last December. It's a start for Salesforce in the hot human capital management (HCM) category--where SAP and Oracle offer more extensive cloud HCM portfolios by way of their SuccessFactors and Taleo acquisitions, respectively. Salesforce will also highlight closer ties with HCM cloud vendor Workday at Dreamforce.
Spotting Social Customers
On the social marketing front, Salesforce is announcing Data.com Social Key, which will help companies connect Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social personas with customer listings in their Salesforce.com CRM databases. Using a mix of Web technologies, Social Key will crawl online blogs, company profiles, professional profiles, and public sources in search of publically detailed connections people make between their professional identities and their social network handles. The Social Key system will store metadata about the source of such data and then give companies using the service control over how information from different types of sources can be used.
Privacy hawks are likely to have a field day with Data.com Social Key, as people might be shocked to learn just how much information they themselves make available online. But Andy MacMillan, senior vice president and general manager, Data.com., insists that Social Key is about business-relevant, not personal, information, and that Data.com will not be doing data mining against social network APIs.
"We're looking at postings that are available on the Web and finding associations that users themselves have created," he said. "If you were to type my name into a search engine, for example, you would find blog posts, my profile on Salesforce.com's Web site, and lots of other places where my business profile is exposed, as are the social handles I used to communicate as part of that persona."
The controls provided to companies using the service will also steer clear of controversy, MacMillan said, as users will be able to decide what data sets are appropriate to use for different purposes. "If my Facebook persona is connected to my business information, that might be highly relevant for inbound service if I complained about a product on Facebook, but I may not want to enable my marketing organization to do outbound communications on that channel if I don't have a prior relationship with that prospect or customer on that channel," MacMillan explained.
Data.com Service Key won't even be available until summer 2013, so there will be many months for debate.
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