Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Salesforce CEO Benioff Has Lots of New Things to Launch Today

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff will soon take the stage at his company’s Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. His remarks, and the company’s announcements, will essentially set the table for the company’s agenda for the next year or so. Here’s a rundown of what he’ll be talking about.

Chatterbox: This is the offering that Benioff telegraphed last week, and which raised so many eyebrows. Salesforce calls it the “Dropbox for the Enterprise,” laying aside the fact that one called Box already exists. Anyway, the point is to “manage and share files in the context of business,” as the press release says. Once you get employees collaborating via social tools, they’re going to want to share files they can work on together within that context. Box, in which Salesforce is an investor, is one target, as is Dropbox. But so is Microsoft’s SharePoint.

Salesforce Identity: Once you get into the business of integrating a bunch of cloud services into one place, you need to manage all the sign-on credentials involved. This is the reason that the start-up Okta exists. Salesforce is essentially aiming to compete with Okta.

Work.com: Remember when cloud-based human resource and talent-management software companies were being acquired at a rapid pace, in part because of the rise of Workday? Salesforce got into the act, too, by acquiring a tiny HR cloud player called Rypple. Work.com is its new name.

Salesforce Touch: One of the earliest companies to see the potential for Apple’s iPad as a tool for use in the enterprise was Salesforce.com. It had early versions of its core customer-relationship management applications in the App Store, and has since expanded its reach to Android and other platforms. Today, it’s kicking that commitment to mobile up a notch. Salesforce Touch uses HTML5, allowing it to work easily on iOS and Android tablets and phones; it is optimized for touch interface. The point is to make Salesforce easy to get at when on the go — and sales people always are on the go — so they can take advantage of just a few minutes of downtime and get things done from a mobile device.

Chatter Communities for Partners: There are a lot of reasons why a company might want to build a social community. The classic example I can think of is a videogame company that wants to support people working their way through the levels of a tough game. But you might want to set up a social network of vendors you buy from, or distributors who resell your products, or third parties who support what you sell. The idea is to make creating that community easy and full-featured from the start, so there’s not so much expense and effort involved. It’s built on Chatter, which is Salesforce’s enterprise social and collaboration platform.

Data.com Social Key: It’s one thing to ask a sales lead what he thinks about something, but quite another to keep track of what he or she tweets or blogs about on that same topic, and often it can yield some insight to help close a deal. Up to now, Data.com has been Salesforce’s go-to offering for background intelligence on sales leads, combining things like Dun & Bradstreet profiles with contact information from Jigsaw. Social Key brings information gleaned from Twitter and blogs and YouTube videos into the mix.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud: Salesforce’s two biggest acquisitions in recent memory are Buddy Media and Radian6. With the Marketing Cloud, Salesforce aims to combine the strengths of the two, to draw together disparate strings of conversations with customers via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and online communities. It also helps create and manage marketing campaigns within those communities, and helps to track the results of those efforts.

Heroku Enterprise for Java: Oracle’s Java is the most widely used programming language in use in the Enterprise. Today, Heroku, the cloud-based software-development service that Salesforce acquired in 2010 , is for the first time embracing the community of Java developers. Getting a Java app built means assembling a bunch of different tools piecemeal from different sources. The new Java service gets software developers fully ready to get right to work with a single click, which saves a lot of time and effort, and thus reduces the cost of development. One other feature sure to be popular with the developers is integration with Atlassian, a collaboration tool that is geared toward the needs of programmers.

It’s worth nothing that Salesforce shares have been trading up considerably in the last month or so, in part because of the anticipation of Dreamforce, but also on Salesforce’s strong results. Today, the shares are up by $1.09, to $157.38, which amounts to a 61 percent increase this year to date. Say what you will about the Salesforce Kool-Aid, its shareholders like the taste.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald