Salesforce introduces social extravaganza

Salesforce introduces social extravaganza

Summary: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has dubbed 2010 the decade of the social revolution, and has dedicated the Salesforce.com Dreamforce keynote in San Francisco to release a swathe of social products to slot into this mentality.

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Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has dubbed 2010 the decade of the social revolution, and has dedicated the Salesforce.com Dreamforce keynote in San Francisco to release a swathe of social products to slot into this mentality.

Marc Benioff at the keynote
(Credit: Suzanne Tindal/ZDNet Australia)

From the mainframe in the 1960s to mini computing in the 1970s, client/server computing in the 1980s, desktop cloud computing in the 1990s and mobile cloud computing in the naughties, there have been big steps to a new technology paradigm, according to Benioff. The step for the 2010s is social.

With 1.1 billion social network users, they now outrank email users, he said, with 22 per cent of web use being social.

Yet this social revolution has opened up a social divide, in Benioff's experience, because although employees and customers have made the social leap, many companies have not.

Benioff imagines a world where he arrives at a hotel for a conference, and the employees behind the desk know who he is and what he likes when he arrives at the desk. He believes that the secret to pleasing customers is "knowing who they are and what they like".

It wasn't about creating an island of collaboration, he said, but creating integration. He laid out three tenets for Salesforce's strategy:

  1. Developing social customer profiles — creating a bank of publicly available information about customers.
  2. Creating employee social networks — helping employees to work together and share information using social tools.
  3. Building customer social networks and product social networks — using tools to listen to, engage with and analyse customers' social contribution.

To achieve these points, Benioff introduced those attending the keynote to various new features for Chatter and other new products, some of which had been previewed in pre-briefings. The Chatter features are mainly free additions, with some exceptions.

Chatter Now

This addition is all about knowing who in your company is now live on Chatter, Benioff said. From late 2011, employees will see when their colleagues are on Chatter and start instant message conversations with them by just hovering over the employee's name. They will also be able to share their screen with other users from next year, although that will incur a separate charge.

Chatter Connect

Salesforce has already opened up its application programming interface to some developers to help them integrate Chatter into other applications, social or even enterprise (for example, SharePoint).

"We're not the only social network out there," Benioff said.

It will be generally available later in the year.

Chatter Approvals

Employees will from late this year be able to approve vacation requests, sales discounts etc within Chatter.

Chatter Customer Groups

Chatter users will from late this year be able to invite people outside of the organisation into their Chatter network for temporary meetings and organisations.

Customers and employees were already working together today, Benioff said, but via legacy channels. With groups, customers can be invited to take part in a group by dropping their email into the app. The customer gets an email, logs into Salesforce.com and they're into the customer group.

They don't have access to the company information, just to that group. It's also possible for them to be able to access it on mobile.

Chatter Service

This is a centre for customers to ask a question, the right answer for which can be found and provided to the customer based on internal knowledge or information on social networks brought into the service cloud. Answers can be farmed back to where the queries were generated, for example, on Facebook.

"Transform your customer service organisation into an online community," Benioff said. "The knowledge base is recommending the right answer."

This will be available early next year and isn't free, but pricing hasn't been released yet.

Data.com

When companies don't have data on a customer on their system, Data.com helps them fill in the blanks.

"Your system might not have it, but Data.com does," Benioff said.

"We're going to pull that information out of the cloud and the entire customer's information's data is going to light up with information."

It will get data from people's public information on Twitter and Facebook, as well as crowdsourced information from Jigsaw and company information from Dun & Bradstreet. Pricing will be announced at the time of release.

HTML5

Salesforce is working on an HTML5 app, touch.salesforce.com, so that its products can be accessed from any device to be available early next year.

"We were huge believers in HTML from the beginning," Benioff said. "How you're going to use Salesforce on your mobile devices is going to change."

It looks like an app, but it's device agnostic and has more functionality, he said. "It could really look like it's 100 per cent native."

The screen renders to fit the form factor for the device. For those users who build custom dashboards, whatever interface they're made for, they're all available in Touch, according to Salesforce.com.

Heroku for Java

By enabling Heroku for Java developers, Salesforce has opened it up to over 6 million developers on Java. It will join Ruby on Rails, Clojure and Node.js. It's available today in public beta.

Database.com

This cloud database is now generally available. Users can get a free account (including 100,000 records, 50,000 transactions per month and support for three enterprise users. Additional records, transactions and users can be purchased on as a needs basis. Benioff also announced a data residency option, which allows companies to keep key data on premise that will be generally available early 2012.

Benioff said this would give peace of mind to many companies and simplify matters "if you have a psychological issue with your CEO", joking that Salesforce.com certainly did.

Social Enterprise License Agreement

When Coca-Cola was moving to become a social enterprise, CTO Alan Kisling posted Benioff with a problem.

With hundreds of thousands of users, Kisling didn't want to pay per user for the social enterprise, despite believing that social would aid the company in knowing who knows what.

"That really sent me back to the drawing board," Benioff said. "How can a customer buy the social enterprise and not worry about the per user price?"

Coca-Cola was now on the first Salesforce.com social enterprise licence agreement, Benioff said.

These licences are available now, with the fixed price varying for each customer.

Suzanne Tindal travelled to Dreamforce as a guest of Salesforce.

Topics: Cloud, Social Enterprise

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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