Salesforce.com Introduces Salesforce Files Connect

To expand the functionality of its CRM solution with native file integration, Salesforce.com has launched Salesforce Files Connect, a centralized file-sharing solution that enables business users to browse, search, and share internal and external files from a unified interface. Initially Salesforce Files Connect will natively integrate with Microsoft OneDrive for Business and SharePoint, but the company plans to add connectors for other file platforms, including Google Drive, in the next several months, according to a company statement.

The move to incorporate file sharing into CRM is an important one, and has been a long time coming, Holger Mueller, principal analyst at Constellation Research, says. "CRM and document management have been separated systems for the longest time, with documents in most cases just lingering on the hard disks of users. And that certainly is suboptimal in the 21st century, with vital information left in the documents," he adds.

Though most CRM systems have historically allowed for the attachment of documents, users "seldom utilized the feature" because vendors had not addressed the "WIIFM" [What's in it for me?] factor that is key for overall CRM system adoption," Mueller says. When it comes to Salesforce's solution, however, the convenience of using familiar file systems such as Microsoft and Google will make it appealing, he explains.

According to a recent IDC study, 44 percent of the time, employees can't find the information they need to do their jobs, and 61 percent of employees typically access four or more systems to get the information they need because it isn't centralized, Mike Stone, senior vice president of marketing for the Salesforce Community Cloud, told CRM in an email. "It's important to have a file-sharing system that integrates [and/or] connects with CRM the way Salesforce Files Connect does because critical information needs to be placed in the flow of business," he wrote.

As Salesforce continues to roll out its Files Connect feature, the tool will also facilitate file sharing across the Salesforce1 platform, allowing users to share external files such as Powerpoint presentations from Microsoft OneDrive or FAQs from SharePoint within the Salesforce Service Cloud.

"With Salesforce Files Connect, employees can spend more time doing their jobs and less time searching for and consolidating information—everything employees need is right where they are working. For example, a sales rep can quickly access an FAQ sheet on a lead residing in Salesforce, and can attach that file to feeds, groups or business records, putting them in the context of relevant discussions, so other reps [and] employees can discover and use that content as well," Stone explained.

The files will also be social and usable within Chatter and the Community Cloud, mobile-ready, and secure. Furthermore, the solution will have an API that will enable developers to add file-sharing capabilities to their apps.

For Microsoft and Salesforce.com, the introduction of Files Connect and the subsequent integration of Microsoft's solutions is an effort to further the strategic partnership the two companies announced in May. The integration is a reflection of a trend that is extending not only into the CRM space, but into other areas as well, including human capital management (HCM).

"We are now seeing the second wave of attempting to solve the document dilemma, and Salesforce has certainly taken a good approach with the seamless integration of well-adopted third-party document system products. We're seeing the same trend in the HCM market, where vendors such as ADP and Ceridian have released new document management capabilities considering key compliance and data retention policies and standards," Mueller says. Moving forward, the trend will continue, he predicts.

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