Salesforce.com realigns Sales, Service clouds for connected apps

Kicking off the announcements less than a week before Dreamforce, the CRM giant has plotted new directions for its cornerstone Sales and Service Clouds.

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Kicking off the announcements with less than a week to go before Dreamforce 2014 in San Francisco, the CRM giant unveiled new plans for its cornerstone Sales and Service Clouds on Tuesday.

Lining up both platforms from a branding angle closer to Salesforce1 for connected apps and mobile devices , the cloud giant is renaming these products to Service Cloud1 and Sales Cloud1. The new directions also point toward Salesforce’s strategy of future-proofing its entire portfolio for the Internet-of-Things movement.

For Salesforce, this has long been characterized as the "Internet of Customers."

Sarah Patterson, vice president of product marketing for Salesforce's Service Cloud, cited recent Morgan Stanley research that there will be an estimated 75 billion connected customers by 2020.

"The reality is that these are changing the way consumers expect to interact with businesses and each other,” Patterson told ZDNet via telephone on Monday. “Mobile is your window to any connected device.”

"In today’s mobile era, customers want easy-to-use, fast, self-service options,” Patterson observed, explaining the foundation for the Service Cloud1 revamp.

Mark Woollen, senior vice president for Sales Cloud product marketing at Salesforce, added that consumer companies are looking for new ways to engage with customers -- all of which rests upon cloud and mobile technology.  

The bottom line, Woollen argued, is that these companies need to take a “mobile-first approach."

Tailored for unique experiences on smartphones and tablets, the revised cloud platforms are designed to empower sales and customer service agents with productivity tools and embedded intelligence into apps at scale for greater insights to better connect and engage with customers.

On the Sales Cloud1 side, this consists of a host of new mobile apps aimed at sales agents for performing a variety of specific apps faster. The docket includes some self-explanatory ones such as Events, Notes and Tasks as well as a few more in-depth, data-heavy apps.

For example, Sales Data taps into both Salesforce.com's own Data.com for company profiles and information and funnels that together with third-party data from Thomson Reuters, promising sales reps with the same "content relied upon by Wall Street professionals."

"Companies are only as good as their last customer service interaction,” Patterson remarked.

"Companies are only as good as their last customer service interaction,” Patterson remarked.

Mobile is a priority for Service Cloud1 as well, but service professionals are being treated with beefier, more dashboard-like programs intended to provide more comprehensive angles at customer life-cycles and patterns.

Sprinkled with hints at Salesforce's previous social enterprise mantra, Service Cloud1 is being outfitted with Instant Service Communities, new self-service communities for connecting customers with experts about specific products and questions that could impact purchase decisions.

"In today’s mobile era, customers want easy-to-use, fast, self-service options,” Patterson observed, explaining the foundation for the Service Cloud1 revamp.

One of the most prominent examples on the employee side is the Smarter Agent Console, a dashboard constructed for provided more personalized responses through an upgraded console loosely based on suggestions reminiscent of Netflix and other popular online consumer-friendly portals.

Salesforce is also taking a page from Amazon — at least on a customer service note rather than a cloud play. Building off the Mayday function seen on the Kindle Fire tablet family, Salesforce is introducing a SOS-for-Apps function intended for developers to take and build into their own apps for lining up instant mobile support.

Many of the new Sales Cloud1 and Service Cloud1 features (such as the new Smarter Agent Console) will roll out this month through Salesforce’s winter release.

Salesforce SOS for Apps, for example, is now available in private beta mode, but pricing won't be announced until its general release. The Service Cloud Smarter Agent Console is already generally available and included with Service Cloud user licenses. Service Cloud1 pricing starts at $65 per user per month.

Additional capabilities slated to follow in the spring release next February.

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