Salesforce plans Facebook-style business links

Salesforce plans Facebook-style business links

Salesforce is launching a new service aimed at letting firms network better is offering customers the ability to exchange information and create ad hoc business networks with partners. A new service called Salesforce to Salesforce will let organisations share information such as leads, contracts, pricing information or recruitment using the firm’s on-demand platform.

Typically, Salesforce is taking its cue from the consumer sector and applying those lessons for business purposes. Organisations can invite other organisations to set up a network, and share, update and synchronise information in much the same way that friends on Facebook or colleagues and peers on LinkedIn can communicate with others.

“More than ever, partners need to share information, for example when you order a gift on, Amazon needs to communicate that to its providers and for delivery,” said Woodson Martin, Salesforce vice president of marketing.

“[In large businesses] you have isolated infrastructures with a large amount of integration needed and in smaller firms most business partners have no automation beyond email or basic messaging. We’re offering a common standard that is all managed by one provider on a trusted platform, enabling hordes of companies to create these kinds of applications.”

David Bradshaw of analyst Ovum said, “The basic problem is to get sales and other staff to use the darned thing so that it helps business rather than just records what happened afterwards, if that. Anything that makes it easier [to exchange information] is to be welcomed. It’s a step in the right direction.”

Separately, Salesforce said it had reached one million subscribers to its platform.

Salesforce’s announcement came as old rival SAP released CRM 2007, the latest upgrade to its Business Suite. The release sports a revamped user interface and new tools for customer offers, trade promotions and managing marketing development funds.

Early adopters include software giant Adobe Systems, which is rolling out the new release to its sales force, and chip giant Intel, which is tapping the marketing fund capability.

Although SAP recently launched its Business ByDesign on-demand suite and also has a CRM On Demand program, the company is continuing to pitch its client/server product as most appropriate for large deployments.

“Business ByDesign has only very recently been launched and is targeted at a particular part of the market,” said SAP UK head of CRM, Kris McKenzie.

“CRM On Demand is a short-term tactical solution for companies that need to deploy in a matter of weeks but we also offer a hybrid model where one part of the organisation may be running an on-demand solution but another part is running a client/server deployment. We’re coming round to a second wave in CRM and there’s still a huge demand.”