At a time when many companies still struggle to manage the rise of social networks and understand what the trend means to their organizations, Salesforce.com has begun tailoring its business software to help people harness the power of social media. During the past year, the company has taken several steps to make its core products work alongside popular consumer applications like Facebook, Google and Twitter.
While analysts say Salesforce.com's efforts to make its business applications more social and consumer-oriented will further bolster its ongoing efforts to uproot old school rivals like Oracle and SAP, the strategy also shows a forward-thinking view in how business technology has changed: The traditional tendency to separate business and consumer technologies is not only unrealistic, it misses an opportunity to interact with current and prospective customers.
"They're the only enterprise vendor that has really embraced the social side of the Web," says Yankee Group analyst Sheryl Kingstone. "Everyone can spend their time on Twitter, but this enables some collaboration with customers because of it."
They've Got a Friend in the Consumer Web
Salesforce.com's latest foray into the consumer Web happened earlier this week. The San Francisco-based vendor announced that organizations using its customer service application (dubbed Service Cloud) would be able to connect it to Twitter, the social networking service where users post short messages.
It works something like this: a customer service rep can monitor conversations occurring over Twitter, while, at the same time, analyzing data in their Salesforce.com app to help answer questions about a product. The answers to those questions can be posted to Twitter by the rep, or, provided the technology is in place, to the frequently asked questions section of a company website.
The Service Cloud product already has such a feature for Facebook conversations, so the emergence of businesses building a marketing and customer service presence on Twitter made sense to Salesforce.com executives as a next logical step in helping companies figure out how to utilize social media outlets.
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