Salesforce.com embeds Facebook and Twitter channels in cloud

10 Sep 2009

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Once the doyen of software-as-a-service, Salesforce.com has unveiled a new paradigm – knowledge as a service – and has revealed a new Service Cloud that allows businesses to use Twitter and Facebook as part of their sales channels.

The Service Cloud, announced in January of this year, is the next generation solution for customer service – it exponentially increases the quality of service, while lowering the cost, by leveraging the expertise of the community.

Since its introduction, the Service Cloud has led market momentum with 8,000 customers and received a number of industry accolades.

The Service Cloud will also deliver entirely new product innovations for the customer-service industry by introducing the world’s first knowledge base designed for cloud computing – SalesforceKnowledge; an entirely new way to look at customer communities and discussion forums – Salesforce Answers; and Salesforce for Twitter, which allows companies to monitor and join the customer-service conversations taking place on Twitter.

The customer-service application market represents a major opportunity for Salesforce.com, which according to IDC will be worth US$4.2 billion by 2012.

“With Service Cloud 2, Salesforce.com is doing for customer service what we did for sales: proving that the cloud is a better way,” said Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com.

“The customer-service market is being held back by traditional technology. With two-thirds of customer-service interactions moving to the cloud and the popularity of social networks, it is high time for a change. I am excited by the momentum we are seeing in the customer-service market and believe it is the next billion-dollar opportunity for Salesforce.com,” Benioff said.

A year after Salesforce.com acquired Instranet, Salesforce.com will offer the world’s first Knowledge-as-a-Service, the first-ever multi-tenant knowledge base designed for cloud computing. The core Service Cloud knowledge base built on Force.com will deliver rapid deployment, immediate results, Google accessibility and simple customisations.

Utilising the Service Cloud, Salesforce Answers will deliver a unique online experience that helps companies leverage the expertise in the cloud to bring the right answer to their customers. Salesforce Answers will enable companies to start the conversation, crowdsource for knowledge and create dynamic customer communities.

Companies will be able to set up a Salesforce Answers community directly on a Facebook company fan page, allowing the company to harness knowledge from the more than 250 million Facebook members.

“The Service Cloud’s knowledge base will give companies access to the best answers for a situation culled from Twitter’s 45 million users and Facebook’s 250 million users,” said Denis Pombriant, Beagle Research.

“The Service Cloud makes an important advance on social networking by helping enterprises harness the power of real-time conversations and crowd-sourced knowledge to benefit their companies,” Pombriant added.

In today’s web-driven world where there is an expectation of real-time interaction, Salesforce for Twitter and the Service Cloud give companies an easy way to join the real-time customer service conversations happening on Twitter by enabling them to search Twitter in real-time, monitor service issues on Twitter, deliver real-time knowledge, join Twitter conversations and establish a Twitter support channel.

"We’ve seen more and more businesses use Twitter to make smart, meaningful and timely connections with their audience,” said Evan Williams, CEO of Twitter.

“We are excited to work with Salesforce.com as they help businesses join the millions of conversations happening every minute on the web," Williams said.

Salesforce Knowledge will be priced at US$50 per agent, per month for Salesforce.com customers and is scheduled to be available in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2010. Salesforce Answers is in pilot and is scheduled to be available in the first quarter of fiscal year 2011. Salesforce for Twitter is available today at no additional charge on the Force.com AppExchange for Professional, Enterprise and Unlimited Edition customers.

By John Kennedy

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com