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Salesforce.com Debuts Hosted CRM Upgrade

The latest release includes a module that lets companies match their CRM environment with their existing business processes.
Despite an unforeseen delay in its anticipated initial public offering, Salesforce.com is moving on with business as usual, unveiling an upgrade of its hosted customer relationship-management offering at simultaneous events in New York and San Francisco.

Salesforce.com's latest release, unveiled Monday, stresses customization. It features a new module called Studio that enables the point-and-click creation of custom tabs, forms, and reports, allowing companies to match their CRM environment with their existing business processes.

The company reportedly has hit a snag in its IPO process due to Securities and Exchange Commission concerns over unconventional accounting methods. As a subscription-based hosted software vendor, Salesforce.com books its sales incrementally over long periods rather than the up-front sales accounting used by traditional software vendors.

Customers and partners gathered to hear about the new releases clearly were focused on how the new capabilities will benefit them. There was little or no conversation about the stalled IPO process at the San Francisco event.

Frank Mallozzi, VP of worldwide sales for $380 million-a-year print-management software maker Electronics For Imaging Inc., says the ability to further customize Salesforce.com will let his company's numerous product groups design their Salesforce.com views to meet their specific needs. For instance, sales and marketing staffers will be able to more effectively generate forecasts broken down by product, region, or sales manager, giving the company more granular information to work from. "It allows us to be a lot more reactive," he says.

Electronics For Imaging also plans to add 200 to 250 users to its current Salesforce.com subscription base of 175 seats, Mallozzi says. The company has closed several acquisitions over the past year and is transitioning many of those employees from on-premise deployments of Siebel Systems CRM software to Salesforce.com. Mallozzi says the company had planned to build links between the products so it could synchronize data rather than ask its new employees to learn a new tool, but it became apparent that option was too IT-intensive.

Pat Sueltz, a former Sun Microsystems software exec who earlier this year became Salesforce.com's president of technology, marketing, and systems, says the new customization features, combined with the software's multilingual capabilities, should help customers further increase adoption among overseas users looking to shape their CRM views to conform to their business practices.