Dreamforce '11: Head in the Clouds, Feet on the Ground
Salesforce.com kicked off its 9th Dreamforce conference with a slew of new features, services and products, as well as an offering that represents a surprising shift for the cloud-evangelizing company: the ability to store data on premises for security-conscious companies.
Although lost somewhat amid the higher sex-appeal social and Chatter-related changes, this latter development is definitely the most interesting for the company, given its history, Nucleus Research Vice President Rebecca Wettemann told CRM Buyer.
"As governments look to cut their IT costs the cloud is a natural way for them to do that," she said, "but they have specific data security concerns, as do many other companies. So this is a sign of maturity from Salesforce.com as it recognizes that companies might have valid reasons to keep tight ownership of the data."
Salesforce.com was unable to provide comments to CRM Buyer in time for publication.
Salesforce.com added enhancements to its social media feed Chatter, giving it enough capacity to become a strong corporate communication tool on par with email.
One enhancement, Chatter Approvals, lets users approve sales discounts or hiring decisions -- or any corporate decision that requires an approval -- within Chatter.
Salesforce.com has also added presence functionality to Chatter, which lets users see when contacts and colleagues are online, as well as instant chat, so there is no need to leave the application to engage in an immediate conversation.
Another feature, Chatter Custom Groups, allows people to send invitations to partners or customers outside of the corporate network. Salesforce.com also enhanced its Service Cloud with Chatter, which means companies can push answers, documents, and so forth directly to a customer-facing website.
Taken together, these new tools will have far-reaching implications for customer service and marketing, Denis Pombriant, principal of Beagle Research, told CRM Buyer.
"It is one of the most impressive social media developments for the enterprise I have seen thus far," he said. "This will enable companies to build stronger relationships with their customers through Chatter dialogues, among other things."
Salesforce.com also debuted Data.com, a service that melds the social information from Jigsaw with corporate data from Dun & Bradstreet into a single location. The point is to allow users to build extensive social profiles on customers.
It also enhanced its already significant mobile creds with a demo of a forthcoming new version of Salesforce specifically designed for touchscreen devices. Touch.salesforce.com uses HTML5 technology to let developers build native apps for these devices. The first touch.salesforce.com release, set for early 2012, will focus on Sales Cloud objects.
The Data Residency Option
Salesforce.com also announced a new Database.com Data Residency Option. Database.com is Salesforce.com's multitenant cloud database service. This new option lets companies keep readable versions of data on premises.
"Out of all the announcements this was the most subtle -- and the most significant," Jeffrey M. Kaplan, managing director of THINKstrategies, told CRM Buyer.
"Letting companies keep their data on premise will alleviate the anxieties of many companies," he said, "and allow the entire marketplace to take advantage of what the cloud has to offer."