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Salesforce.com's Content Moves Are More Than A Web 2.0 Facelift

I've been waiting to see what Salesforce.com will do with Koral after last year's acquisition. When I first tested Koral in late 2006, I remember thinking it was onto something, I just didn't see the Salesforce.com train rolling into the station.
I've been waiting to see what Salesforce.com will do with Koral after last year's acquisition. When I first tested Koral in late 2006, I remember thinking it was onto something, I just didn't see the Salesforce.com train rolling into the station.So when I caught up with Salesforce.com prior to the release of Salesforce Content and Salesforce Ideas, I was curious to see if it had really pulled off anything special. Would Koral be the element that finally gives Salesforce.com a share of the lucrative content management market?

The Salesforce Content application is really the engine here. You can see Koral written all over it, with RSS, tagging, and other Web 2.0 capabilities baked in at every corner. And while it's functionality won't immediately supplant your enterprise document management vendor, it does a good job managing some of the unstructured data within the Salesforce environment. The subscriptions and recommendations also were nice, although I would have liked the capability to subscribe to document changes via RSS rather than e-mail.

Here's the descriptions from the Salesforce.com release:

Featured Content -- Saves employees time and increases the usage of preferred materials by ensuring that preferred content is always prominently displayed by allowing authorized users to define and designate materials as "Featured Content."

Suggested Tagging -- Provides greater flexibility and control in aligning how users tag content by allowing administrators to recommend a specific set of tags for a workspace, while still allowing users the option of creating their own tags.

Popular Search Results -- Makes finding the best content easier by allowing users to display and sort search results using pre-defined fields and order to navigate content more easily.

"Salesforce Content is as revolutionary as PDFs were 15 years ago. For us, it is the killer app," said Bill Rozier, VP of global marketing at Ciena. "The ability to use easily understandable Internet techniques to manage the publishing and retrieval of our marketing materials allows us to maximize marketing's impact with our sales teams worldwide -- on demand."

The other, less notable, spring '08 development is Ideas Management. This piece allows users to post, discuss, and vote on ideas. The three main components are:

My Ideas Inbox -- A personalized experience for users that enables them to access their ideas and comments with greater ease and efficiency by listing new comments that have been added to ideas previously posted and/or ideas commented on by the user. • Recently Discussed -- The Recently Discussed tab deepens the user experience by providing quick access to the community's latest comments, making it easy to jump into the latest discussion topics and take conversations in new directions. • Top Ideas -- Provides improved visibility into the latest, most relevant content and votes by ranking the all-time top-ranked ideas within the community.

All this may sound like just a Web 2.0 face-lift to some, but when you take into account the company's platform-as-a-service (PaaS) strategy, it becomes more intriguing. I can see how enterprise customers could really extend the base features, using REST-driven approaches that allow connectivity to third-party content and customized mashups.

Al Falcione, senior director of product marketing, alluded to the enterprise growth and described how a few big financial services clients had extended the platform. He says it validates that companies are moving more and more toward development-as-a-service (DaaS).

"Enterprise customers like Citibank, with more than 30,000 users, have really opened up the platform," said Falcione.

"Citibank realized it could customize, build, and run new apps on the platform, cutting down on their reliance on proprietary software and IDEs (integrated development environments," added Falcione.

I left the call thinking I'd be a lot happier as a new client logging on to Salesforce.com today.

Editor's Choice
Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
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Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
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Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing