Salesforce.com Inc. Monday joined other corporate software players trying to take the concepts behind the highly successful social networking site MySpace and apply them to the business world.
AppSpace is a hosted portal which forms part of the Spring 07 release of the Salesforce hosted CRM (customer relationship management) software.
“We looked at the customer portal concept to see how we could reinvent it,” said Kendall Collins, senior vice president of product marketing at Salesforce.com. “We see the portal more as a space, not a window, in terms of what you can do with it and how you can fill it.”
AppSpace will provide a secure space for collaboration for a company’s internal staff and its external partners. In particular, Salesforce.com is hoping that customers will choose to share applications they’ve acquired from its AppExchange Web site. The CRM vendor set up AppExchange in January 2006 as a place to showcase its own and third-party applications and is working to fully commercialize the site as a complete online software marketplace by the end of this year.
“Our vision for AppSpace is broader,” Collins said. “It’s going to include wikis and blogs.” Salesforce.com is also hearing from users that they’d be keen to see payment widgets included, he added.
Salesforce.com’s move with AppSpace follows Microsoft Corp.’s announcement last week at its Convergence show of its take on MySpace. The software giant is creating a series of online communities for users of its Dynamics ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM applications, starting with a site for finance professionals to exchange best practices. So far, Microsoft hasn’t positioned the communities as a place to share applications.
While some of Microsoft’s partners have been hosting Dynamics CRM, the company is set to more fully enter the on-demand market in the third quarter of this year with the release of CRM Live, a Microsoft software-as-a-service offering. The CRM Live service will initially only be available in North America and pricing has yet to be released. Collins looks forward to competing more with Microsoft. “I think it’s great,” he said. “It opens up hearts and minds for us.”
While Spring 07 is available now, Salesforce.com will make AppSpace available in a limited customer release in April, priced from US$995 per organization per month.
Spring 07 is the 22nd release of the Salesforce software and the first to be significantly community-driven, Collins said. In October, Salesforce.com established its IdeaExchange, a Web site for users to provide feedback on its software and suggestions for future enhancements. To date, users have posted more than 2,500 new ideas, he added. Of those ideas, time-based workflow and customized search are two of the features that have made it into the Spring 07 release.