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Salesforce.com Steps Out with New Hosted CRM Apps

Salesforce.com on Monday announced Winter ’04, its latest hosted CRM service and the fourteenth generation since the offering was introduced in early 2000. The company also unveiled its sforce 2.0 on-demand application server, which is included in the Winter ’04 release.

Salesforce.com made the announcements at its inaugural Dreamforce user and developer conference, which ran from Sunday to Wednesday in San Francisco. In addition, the company announced it has signed a three-year agreement with chipmaker AMD, which will use Salesforce.com’s Winter ’04 release.

“With Salesforce.com, AMD has a global CRM platform that can deliver a solid return on our investment without compromising any functionality,” said Henri Richard, AMD senior vice president of worldwide sales and marketing.

“Salesforce.com’s executive dashboard provides instant access to the data necessary to assess and guide AMD’s global business,” Richard added. “The end result is a more productive sales organization that can focus on delivering technology solutions that meet our customers’ needs.”

State-of-the-Art CRM

Kaiser Mulla-Furoze, director of product marketing at Salesforce.com, told CRM Buyer that Winter ’04 provides customers with four important tools to better manage their CRM needs. Those state-of-the-art features include new dashboards that sum up and distribute key data, workflow automation, real-time alerts and contract management, which is part of Salesforce.com’s new operations and finance module.

Winter ’04’s globalization features come with a translation workbench that summarizes data in up to 11 different languages and in multiple currencies, making global deployments a relative no-brainer, Mulla-Furoze said. In addition, integration features allow customers to install Winter ’04 alongside legacy systems and desktop applications that already are used to manage customer fulfillment.

Winter ’04’s customization features also offer users greater control over layout and security, among other areas, Mulla-Furoze said, with sforce 2.0 serving as the cornerstone.

Sforce a Winner

Sforce 2.0 may be the most anticipated addition to Salesforce.com’s service offerings. Mulla-Furoze said the software enables Salesforce.com’s customers to write and host custom applications that fit their individual needs. Those custom applications are built on top of sforce 2.0, allowing users to extend Winter ’04 beyond its core applications.

Yankee Group senior analyst Sheryl Kingstone told CRM Buyer that sforce 2.0 meets the needs of more experienced users — and shows how the hosted-services market has grown in the last five years.

Until recently, she said, hosted services in the CRM space offered low-cost deployments but were hampered by their overall lack of sophistication.

Sforce, on the other hand, now meets the needs of users who need greater functionality and a more robust workflow offering, Kingstone said. She added that sforce and Winter ’04’s other improvements are causing even large organizations to take a good look at hosted CRM services.

Psychographics

Kingstone said that in the CRM software space, demographics are no longer so much of an issue. Instead, what she called “psychographics” are a better determinant of whether an organization chooses traditional CRM applications or hosted services.

“I’m pretty strong on the hosted market [and] see it as the great wave of the future, especially for those organizations that do not have large IT departments,” Kingstone said.

However, she went on to say that if an organization already has invested in the infrastructure and overhead of traditional CRM applications, switching to hosted apps likely will not provide the added value customers are seeking.

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