Telstra launches mobile CRM tool

Australia's leading telco has added wireless CRM capabilities to its portfolio thanks to a partnership with Salesforce.com.

Australia's leading telco Telstra has added wireless CRM capabilities to its portfolio thanks to a partnership with Salesforce.com, company officials said Wednesday.

The six month exclusive deal between the two parties will enable Salesforce's customers to access CRM (customer relationship management) services using browser-enabled devices such as the 02 XDA handheld.

Data will be transmitted via Telstra's GPRS (general packet radio services) and CDMA 1x networks.

The relationship with Salesforce is in line with Telstra's strategy to drive the adoption of wireless data services in corporations.

"We're seeing a migration of mainstream enterprise apps into the mobile arena," Murray Bergin, managing director at Telstra's business and government mobile sales and solutions division, told reporters.

Bergin outlined three growth areas for the company in the wireless services space--transportation and logistics, desktop replacements, and sales and services. He added customers were increasingly demanding business applications styled after the simplicity of SMS (short messaging service).

Doug Farber, Salesforce's international marketing director, said the new offering will facilitate real-time database access and updates. This allows for better lead generation and tracking, he added.

Pricing will start at AU$100 per user each month (excluding airtime costs).

Making sales
San Francisco-based Salesforce competes with Siebel Systems, SAP, PeopleSoft and Microsoft in the market for business applications designed to help salespeople track customer accounts and sales prospects. A key difference between Salesforce and many of its rivals is that the company relies on the Internet to give customers access to its software, which it maintains and runs on its own computers for a monthly fee.

It recently unveiled a wide-ranging program, called sforce, that allows developers to customise business applications and to build new online systems.

Sforce provides programmers with an online application development utility that allows them to custom-design corporate business applications for PCs, handheld devices such as personal digital assistants and smart phones. Developers use sforce along with their existing development tools, from Microsoft, Borland and Sun Microsystems, to integrate data stored in Salesforce's applications with new and existing business applications.

Salesforce has 6,700 customers worldwide, including Australians firms such as AAPT, Red Sheriff and DBAssociates.

In the Web services space, it has alliances with tool vendors that will pave the way for developers to build applications using software from multiple companies that is hosted by Salesforce.

With these alliances, developers can use Sun's Sun ONE Studio tools; Microsoft's Visual Studio .Net, Borland's JBuilder and BEA Systems' WebLogic Workshop. Salesforce said sforce will provide access to services such as authentication, data management, document management and text search, through the tools.

In addition, Salesforce said it has signed up 25 software makers to work with sforce to build Web services-based applications. Those software makers include AvantGo, Blue Martini, Business Objects and Cape Clear.

CNET News.com's Sandeep Junnarkar contributed to this report.

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