Salesforce.com heralds era of the business web


25 Jan 2006

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An online customer relationship management (CRM) company that was established in 1998 yesterday introduced the 19th generation of its on-demand CRM system. The company, Salesforce.com, also heralded in what it terms the era of the business web through a directory/network of on-demand applications, or a Swiss army knife, of online tools for businesses.

The business web is comprised of a network of on-demand applications, services, components and development efforts that enable customers to run their entire business on demand. The company explained that the business web is made possible by software-as-a-service, new internet and technology standards, and design principles that foster innovation, collaboration and democracy.

Developers and vendors are able to rapidly deliver new features and components that can be mashed together, integrated and constantly evolved by other developers, users, customers and partners — and can be deployed quickly and easily on demand.

While the new Salesforce.com service, known as AppExchange, was unveiled simultaneously in London, Tokyo and Singapore, it was unveiled a week ago in San Francisco by Salesforce.com founder Marc Benioff. Speaking at the time he said: “The consumer web gave rise to business web. The consumer web is really where the action has been. It’s how we entertain ourselves. It’s how we shop. How do we do that for our business users as well?”

The arrival of the business web marks a stark contrast to the traditional software model, which relies on monolithic providers controlling the pace of innovation, with customers waiting impatiently for new features and upgrades and responsible for their own integration and implementation.

Speaking with siliconrepublic.com yesterday afternoon, Dr Chris Boorman, vice-president of marketing for EMEA at Salesforce.com said that in order to provide the security, availability, reliability and scalability necessary for ubiquitous use and adoption, the business web requires operational core competencies delivered by a new platform to guarantee businesses can run more effectively through the web than traditional software.

“There are up to 160 applications up there today and more being added each week,” Boorman said. “We launched the AppExchange directory in September and since then it has been tested by more than 80,000 users. In the past week there has been more than 1,800 installation of applications from the AppsExchange.”

Boorman cited applications ranging from contacts management and voice over internet protocol to downloadable mortgage quotation tools for estate agents as typical business applications. Other applications include a patient management system for HIV treatment. He also cited the involvement of companies such as Skype, Business Objects and Google Maps in the venture.

“We are effectively unleashing the power of Web 2.0, the next generation of the web to seamlessly integrate different services from different providers to deliver greater capability to our customers,” Boorman explained.

He concluded by saying that up to 15,000 developers worldwide are currently developing applications for AppExchange.

By John Kennedy