Salesforce.com Plays Pandora
Salesforce.com today pushed further in its quest to bleed Web 2.0 activity into business practices with the release of new Web-based content exchange solutions. The release of Salesforce Content includes Apex Content, a solution that uses a Web 2.0 community to help users build content-based applications, and the new Salesforce ContentExchange, an application that delivers Web 2.0 content management. The company also announced an upgrade to its Partner Relationship Management solution with the release of PRM 2.0. Salesforce.com says that these releases forward its goal to put Salesforce.com solutions into the hands of all users in an enterprise, a move that puts to rest its former mantra of "only CRM."
Salesforce.com says that these new applications come out of the company's core strategy to make successful consumer technology applicable to business. "Why aren't business applications as easy to use as Amazon? Why isn't there a Flikr for content management? These consumer technologies have revolutionized the way a company can leverage the wisdom of clout," says Kendall Collins, SVP of product marketing for Salesforce.com. Collins cites the metric that while 87 percent of people can find what they are looking for online, only 44 percent of business users can find what they want on the corporate Internet. With the new releases, Salesforce.com hopes to combat this discrepancy.
"Salesforce.com made [CRM] really easy to use and simple and streamlined," says Rob Bois, research director at AMR Research. He says he believes that the vendor is a good fit for the job. "I don't see any reason they can't accomplish this in the document management world."
Salesforce.com recently adopted Koral, a small document management vendor, from AppExchange to help create Apex Content and Salesforce ContentExchange. Apex Content will help companies manage all unstructured data and Salesforce ContentExchange will enable users to easily sift through it. Apex Content is a content platform that enables the use of all Salesforce.com solutions to help users manage and share documents. The solution includes library services features as well as a full text index, a content classification schema, and workflow services. Salesforce Content Exchange will serve as a way for companies to search through this information, using a Web 2.0-like interface to share, tag, recommend, rate, and comment on content.
The release marks a step in Salesforce.com's efforts to both stimulate wider usage of Salesforce.com among all users in an enterprise as well as to create a broader expanse of functionality for Salesforce.com as a vendor. Bois says that because document management is out of the CRM realm (a place which Salesfore.com originally intended to stay), "it potentially opens up a Pandora's box of where they go next." Bois says the acquisition of Koral to power the release may also stir up users' attitudes toward AppExchange.
"There are a number of companies in the content management space [on AppExchange] who will be impacted by this announcement," says Jeff Kaplan, managing director at THINKstrategies "The question is, will they see this as this being an endorsement or an encroachment to their sector of the marketplace?"
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