New Tool Links Online Apps

Multiforce technology is key to the company's efforts to expand beyond CRM applications. Inc. on Wednesday previewed an enhancement to its hosted software that's designed to let users easily switch between different applications created within Salesforce's Web-based application environment.

With the forthcoming Multiforce application environment, scheduled for release this summer, a customer that uses Salesforce's customer-relationship-management module and, say, its project-management module could easily switch between the two simply by clicking a tab while maintaining a common user interface. Users could also switch between custom sales-force applications they've created on their own.

While Multiforce is a fairly straightforward enhancement, it's a key enabler to Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff's plan to broaden the company's offerings beyond the sales-force-management market. Benioff is looking to create broader online business-process-management tools on which companies can run a range of operations, from product support to human-resource management. Having a tool through which users can click through a series of Salesforce-based applications is essential to that plan.

At a customer event Wednesday in New York, Benioff said Salesforce's online CRM environment can be easily adapted to manage any business process that requires a standard approach to capturing, tracking, and integrating information. "There is a lot of loose data [inside a company] that needs to be automated," Benioff said.

A number of Salesforce customers are already customizing the company's software to create applications that go beyond CRM. Magma Design Automation Inc., which develops software for computer chip designers, has created a Salesforce-based application to manage product development. In addition to sales managers, "every propeller head on our staff now has a seat on Salesforce," Magma CRM director David Brooks said.

Diversifying beyond CRM should help Salesforce continue its robust growth. In the fourth quarter, the company said revenue from software subscriptions and support grew 82% to $54.6 million.

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