Pharma deal for Salesforce.com's on-demand CRM

On-demand the only way to go?

On-demand the only way to go?

Fresh from reporting quarterly revenue of $46.4m, up 82 per cent year-on-year, Salesforce.com has announced a major deal covering 2,000 end users at pharmaceutical and biotech company Quintiles Transnational.

The move follows over a year's use of Salesforce.com's online offering by Quintiles' Innovex unit, which provides sales and marketing services in its sector.

No value has been assigned to the deal, though Salesforce.com's model means organisations typically pay a certain amount per month, meaning the vendor stands to make millions of dollars over the term of the deal, which has been set.

Georgina Morris, head of global business development information systems for Quintiles, told silicon.com that the concept of software as a service and no upfront payments "was attractive but not the main reason" for choosing the supplier.

Over a five-month period Quintiles whittled down six prospective providers of customer relationship management (CRM) technology to a shortlist of three, all offering on-demand software. Quality assurance testing and pilots involving 40 end users then saw Salesforce.com chosen. Its software will replace a Lotus Notes-based in-house system that the company has run for six years.

Morris said a main differentiator was Salesforce.com pledging to continue working with Quintiles as necessary. She said that one of the reasons for signing up for at least a certain amount of time - even though on-demand software should in theory mean it is easy to change providers easily - was that her company could negotiate other things in return.

Salesforce.com, which floated successfully this year, has its heritage in salesforce automation software - thus its corporate moniker - but Morris said she is confident her organisation can use the software for customer self-service and other function that come under the category CRM.

Last week Salesforce.com rival RightNow Technologies told silicon.com that while Salesforce.com is signing up many new customers few are large enterprises. Salesforce.com says it has mix of clients.

Both providers are battling many traditional CRM players, such as Oracle, PeopleSoft, SAP and Siebel as well as Microsoft, that are moving to offer on-demand as well as packaged software.