• April 15, 2011
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Extending the Cloud for Salesforce.com

Active Endpoints yesterday announced early access to Cloud Extend for Salesforce.com, the first in a series of Cloud Extend products for CRM applications delivered via a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. Cloud Extend enables sales organizations to now capture sales knowledge, replicate successful sales patterns, and enforce data consistency.

Cloud Extend for Salesforce.com is built on Salesforce’s Force.com platform and is natively integrated with Salesforce applications. With it, users can create and modify custom interactive sales guides with an intuitive, Web-based interface, and then share those guides with the entire sales team with a single click.  They can update sales, customer, and product information through guided questions and answers that automatically propagate the data into the required fields. Users can get up and running in minutes with sample playbooks that provide lead nurturing, sales qualification, and call scripting advice. The application also provides social media and mobile support for iPad, iPhone, Android, and Salesforce Chatter so that users can update information from anywhere.

According to Mark Taber, CEO of Active Endpoints, the impetus behind the Cloud Extend product is to make it easy for organizations to use and customize SaaS-based CRM products without having to involve IT departments or systems integrators. “Cloud Extend is pushing the envelope for what business users can do on their own to customize SaaS applications,” he says. “It’s about empowering business users—sales management, product management, and marketing—to better use salesforce.com on their own without getting IT involved. We saw the need for business people to have control of these applications and not having to be so heavily reliant on IT.”

Taber says the real value of the Cloud Extend product is who can use it. “We’re really consumerizing the app,” he states. “Anyone can prepare with five or 10 minutes of training and leverage all that Salesforce.com has to offer.”

Though the first product is geared toward Salesforce.com applications, Taber says Active Endpoints plans to work with all the major CRM vendors. “The main thing we’re trying to do is drive more use of CRM tools like Salesforce and make it easy to do,” he says.

The sales and support markets are ripe for applications like these, Taber adds, because of the speed at which these businesses move.  “We see the verticals around sales and support as an important place where business managers need to work on their own,” he says. “These environments are so fast that any static playbook would be outdated before it went public.”
Cloud Extend for Salesforce.com is currently available to a limited number of early access customers and partners. The full product will be generally available to everyone by the end of the summer. “We want to gain experience from the first set of customers and work with them to learn their needs and requirements before we make it available to everyone,” Taber explains.


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