Salesforce.com on Wednesday will unveil Salesforce Chatterbox, Identity and a series of incremental updates to existing products that are designed to connect enterprises to external partners.
For Salesforce customers, this version of Dreamforce doesn't have any real game-changers. That said, connecting enterprises to outside partners is very relevant and can pay off. The game plan for Salesforce---whether you view the updates and product announcements as incremental or not---is to become a primary platform for corporations. Connecting enterprises internally and externally is the best way to ensure you're a platform of choice.
Many of the product updates will appear via pilots in Salesforce's Winter release. Salesforce's moves appear to challenge the likes of Box and Okta as well as dabble in the turf of long-time partner Workday.
Here's an overview of what Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff will note in San Francisco in order of importance.
Benioff foreshadowed Chatterbox, a tool that aims to compete with Dropbox and Box, and the company made it official on Wednesday.
Chatterbox aims to sync files across devices, read documents and allow for secure file sharing. The target here is Dropbox, not Box, according to John Taschek, senior vice president of marketing strategy at Salesforce.
Taschek had an interesting dance about the Box competition. Box is a partner of Salesforce and Dropbox isn't. I asked Taschek directly if Salesforce would be talking Box smack if it weren't a partner.
"Chatterbox is a replacement for Dropbox in the enterprise," he said. "We add security for regulated industries and beyond that the ability to add and follow a file and share it across an organization or group."
"Box is still a partner and a great partner. Box is important because it combines personal and corporate sharing in a way that replaces folders," he added.
In other words, Salesforce may see some coopetition with Box, but the common foe is Dropbox and SharePoint. "Chatterbox is taking away the promiscuity of Dropbox and the antiquity of SharePoint," quipped Taschek.
Salesforce is also targeting Okta to some degree with an identity management service. Again, Salesforce is layering in features that put its platform in the middle of the enterprise.
The hook for Salesforce here is that it will combine single sign-on with the ability to import data into Chatter. The impact on services like Okta, which connect to multiple clouds, is unclear.
Benioff will also talk Work.com, which is basically the rebranded Rypple. Here Salesforce also appears to encroach on partner turf somewhat. However, Workday and Salesforce remain strong partners and happen to have common enemies---Oracle and SAP.
Work.com is designed to make employee reviews easier and more ongoing and easier to give thanks to workers on a job well done, said Taschek.
Salesforce Touch platform
Here Salesforce is reiterating its bet on HTML5 as a way to bridge mobile and corporate applications. The touch platform rollout includes offline storage.
Communities is designed to be the social business front office and will roll out in pilots in the Winter 2013 release.
In many respects, Dreamforce is likely to become a Winter release preview for Salesforce's core applications and marketing cloud, which is starting to integrate BuddyMedia and Radian6 more. Perhaps in the years ahead Salesforce's move to put itself in the center of enterprises via the cloud will turn out to be important strategically. On the surface today, Salesforce's additions look like extensions to a revolution that was announced a few years ago.