September 2, 2008
Salesforce.com plans to announce Wednesday that ice cream company Haagen-Dazs is using Force.com, its cloud computing approach to software development and most important effort yet to move beyond CRM software services.
The case study shows how cloud computing can make it possible for a business to keep adding customized functionality to automated business processes without having to manage any software or servers onsite. But as a marquee customer for Salesforce.com's envisioned potential of Force.com, it falls short. The customized features were created for Haagen-Dazs in 2005, two years before Salesforce.com formally announced Force.com, and are an extension of Salesforce.com's CRM service. Salesforce.com describes Force.com as a "platform-as-a-service," as it lets developers create applications -- including those that have nothing to do with CRM -- that Salesforce.com hosts from its data centers. The Haagen-Dazs Shoppe Company is apparently a very early customer of what has become known as Force.com. The franchise operation, owned by Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream, opened up about 45 shops in the last year, for a total 265. The franchised shops make most of their sales from the impulse purchases of passersby, which is way they're typically located in tourist destinations with high foot traffic, including mega malls, Las Vegas casinos, and Disney properties. Haagen-Dazs Shoppe is tiny, employing 13 people who work out of a Minneapolis office and another 10 who work in the field, assisting franchises with such issues as hiring and training. The company uses Salesforce.com's CRM service to manage real estate leads and potential franchise owner leads. Here's where Force.com comes in: Reside, a Minneapolis-based software consulting firm and Salesforce.com partner, further customized the service to let Haagen-Dazs track franchise store openings, remodel dates, and inspection results, and track the training status of new shop owners. Another great feature, said Haagen-Dazs marketing manager Julie Michelutti in an interview, is that whenever a franchise candidate fills out and submits an application via the Haagen-Dazs Web site, the information is automatically updated in the company's Salesforce.com service. Reside is now building a feature into Salesforce.com that lets employees enter suggestions on what more they'd like to see in the service. Michelutti and other managers will view that information on a quarterly basis, when they meet to discuss potential new software updates. To find out more about how companies are implementing software as a service, InformationWeek has published an in-depth analysis. Download the report and survey here (registration required).
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