Cloud-y Announcements Surround Salesforce.com
SAN FRANCISCO — In addition to the wave of announcements from vendor Salesforce.com during its annual user and developer conference, Dreamforce, the cloud company's partner ecosystem shouted a handful of announcements from the exposition floor here this week.
The Force.com partner ecosystem is a vital part of Salesforce.com's competitive advantage, according to Forrester Research analyst Ray Wang. In fact, Wang says that, a few years down the road, he likely won't be able to evaluate a "Forrester Wave" on specific vendors without considering and reviewing the vendor's partnerships and how well those partnerships integrate with and complement a vendor's core technologies.
In a recent Forrester report, "How To Select A Software Partner," Wang writes, "Amid a backdrop of vendor consolidation, open standards, dynamic apps, and new deployment options, no one software vendor can deliver innovative solutions that meet every industry vertical, business process, market segment, and geographical requirement." He continues, "Consequently, major software vendors...are encouraging their partners to innovate on their platforms, fill existing gaps, and ultimately help drive long-term customer loyalty."
What follows is a limited selection of the many, many announcements for the Force.com ecosystem making a splash during the week's conference:
- BigMachines, which offers product configurator, quoting, and proposal software, unveiled a new sales-quoting application for Salesforce.com's AppExchange. The application will be native on the Force.com platform and will add quoting to a Salesforce.com user's CRM data. The new tool allows for the building of templates for use in sales documents, proposals, quotes, and contracts.
- Bluewolf, the software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud-computing consultancy, announced a foray with Salesforce.com Ideas -- Salesforce.com's community-building solution, which was recently upgraded in the Winter '09 release. Bluewolf's product, known as bw.Connect, closes the loop with Salesforce Ideas forums and CRM systems. For instance, when a customer leaves a comment on an Ideas site, bw.Connect ties that comment back to the appropriate Salesforce CRM record. It also provides an "email to idea" feature which allows users to submit ideas via email rather than having to directly log into the Ideas site.
- Demandbase, the on-demand provider of B2B lead generation and business contact information, released a new, free widget called Demandbase Stream. The tool works as a ticker and alerts users when a specific business is visiting their corporate Web site. Using Internet Protocol addresses, the tool tracks down contact information for the site visitor and appropriate means for a follow-up conversation. The information is pulled from sites such as Hoover's, Jigsaw, and ZoomInfo -- the user can then choose to "get contacts" and purchase the customer data from Demandbase Central, the company's flagship product. Those contacts will then be added to Salesforce.com. Chris Golec, chief executive officer for Demandbase, says that the new offering targets the many overlooked leads that are often right under a company's nose. An organization spends a ton of money getting prospects to go to its site, he says, but once visitors are there, there isn't a lot to do but wait for the prospect to contact the organization. "The Demandbase Stream picks up where search leaves off," Golec says, characterizing the new software as a proactive mechanism to convert Web traffic into leads.
- ExactTarget, the provider of on-demand email and marketing automation, released a simplified marketing automation solution for Salesforce CRM. The new capabilities allow users to automate lead nurturing with an easy and intuitive drag-and-drop interface. Salesforce.com and ExactTarget customers can create Web pages and lead-capture forms and pull data from multiple sources for follow-up activities.
- Glovia, a subsidiary of Fujitsu, announced its plans to move enterprise resource planning to the cloud. Wang called the announcement one of the biggest coming out of Dreamforce this week. "Having end-to-end order management and being able to build on that is definitely what people are looking for," he says, adding that non-CRM providers seem to be realizing and taking advantage of the benefits of platforms. In building on platforms such as Force.com, companies such as Glovia play a part in completing the whole life cycle -- managing customers from prospect to closed deal. Glovia's order management service is priced at a subscription of $65 per user per month.
- InsideSales introduced integration of its Lead Management Suite into the Force.com platform. The telephony-based lead management company provides tools such as PowerDialer, JabberDog, and ResponsePop that help reduce inefficiency in the telephone sales market.
- For a more in-depth look at the announcements made by and between Jigsaw, SkyData Systems, and Marketo, see another of today's stories, "Jigsaw and SkyData Piece Together Mobile Contact Data."
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