Salesforce.com previewed its 26th-generation release, Salesforce Summer '08, at Dreamforce Europe, its European conference for users and developers. The release includes a host of new CRM features, but it focuses most sharply on new collaboration capabilities.
"Salesforce Summer '08 will harness the power of consumer Web technologies to deliver more application and collaboration success than ever before," said George Hu, executive vice president of marketing, applications and education at Salesforce.
New Features for Communities and Collaboration
"Saleforce has recognized that two key things are really driving innovation in CRM today: communities and networking, and collaboration," said Rebecca Wetteman, vice president of research with IT analysts Nucleus Research. Indeed, many of the new features rest on those pillars.
Salesforce Summer '08 brings new features to the Salesforce Content pillar to help manage unstructured data in an enterprise by using tagging, subscriptions and recommendations. Other new features for Content include Global Availability, allowing users to perform multilanguage searches; collaboration between Partner and Customer Portals, allowing both groups of users to share relevant content; and Content Analytics that employ usage metrics to determine the content used most frequently by users, and then optimize the use of those materials.
Salesforce Ideas, an interactive forum that allows users to share and comment on ideas, also received some updates. Companies can use the Multiple Communities feature to create a way of better organizing the ideas emerging from different groups. Users can customize fields and create validation rules and workflows using Customizable Ideas; and the Ideas for Partner Portal gives partners the opportunity to provide their perspectives.
Innovative and Intuitive
Wetteman told us that Salesforce is continuing to innovate in terms of product functionality as well as its notion of platform-as-a-service. "One thing they've tried to do is both give developers a way to create applications that are specifically suited to the needs of their users beyond the traditional CRM world," she said, "so it may have a completely different user interface than what we traditionally think of when we look at Salesforce.com, but it all goes back to giving developers tools to create intuitive applications for users." That's an important edge, she said. "The more intuitive you make an application, the more productive users are."
The new release also includes more than four-dozen new CRM-application features. The company is offering two Salesforce-to-Salesforce connections for free under the Salesforce Partners feature that facilitates partner collaborations. The Dashboard Email Delivery feature automates the updating and delivery of dashboards, which helps Salesforce SFA users to immediately gauge their business's performance. And Salesforce Marketing provides visibility into leads using the new Converted Lead Page feature, which provides all information regarding a converted lead.
Wetteman said the company is good at providing exactly what customers are looking for, by keeping a close loop with users on the development side and regularly adding new releases. "It's not like a traditional software cycle where they promise and hope for a date," she said. "They tend to hit [on schedule] and hit with functionality that everyone expects to be there."
The Summer '08 release will be available in June at a monthly cost of $35 per user. Salesforce.com claims some 41,000 customers.