4 mins to read goes social; gets nod from NZ cloud guru

CRM company launches Marketing Cloud, Touch for tablets, Dropbox competitor as rivals circle. UPDATED with comment from Andy Lark.

Chris Keall
Thu, 20 Sep 2012 launched a series of products that boost the social networking and capability to its CRM (customer relationship management) software.

The US based company is best-known as the first to become an A-list software player with a product based purely on cloud software.

Now, with Oracle and SAP making forays onto its turf, it is pitching internet-based software as something that everybody takes as read; the key element now is now social media savvy - and developming new software that both works with Facebook and uses Facebook metaphors - such as following your coworkers or contacts.

To wit, the company has launched Salesforce Marketing Cloud, which merges the services of two of’s recent acquisitions: Radian6, a social media monitoring company bought for $US336 million last year, and Buddy Media (bought in June for $US646 million; around the same time, Oracle bought a competitor called Vitrue). Buddy Media handles around 10% of the total advertising on Facebook, VP and head of platform development Peter Coffee told NBR. Competitors are circling. Microsoft, which has its own CRM product, bought corporate chat company Yammer in June for $US1.2 billion.

Salesforce says Marketing Cloud (which will sell from $US5000) is the first suite to unify social listening, content, engagement, advertising, workflow, automation and measurement. 

Any early adopter is the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (parent of ASB), and its chief marketing officer Kiwi ex-pat Andy Lark has been wheeled out at the Dreamforce conference San Francisco where the new products are being launched to push Marketing Cloud. Mr Lark said CBA's embrace of social media had fed through to it "social wallet" (here, ASB now allows payments via Facebook).

Mr Lark said his company looked at alternatives including Wildfire (founded by ex-pat Victoria Ransom and recently bought by Google for $US250 million). But knitted everything together, while going with a tapestry of different vendors would have meant CBA doing a lot knitting together, Mr Lark said. Price was not the dominant criteria, the CMO said, but worked out cheaper overall.

In the past few days, CBA has been rolling out's Chatter to staff, rooting out a number of DIY installs and "endless instances of [now Microsoft-owned] Yammer" in the process, Mr Lark said.

The CMO did not over-emphasise where CBA was right now. Today, he said, only around 2% of the bank's marketing spend went to Facebook. But he saw an ongoing, transformational shift.

Christchurch-based cloud computing commentator Ben Kepes – in San Francisco – also gives new social suite the nod.

“Marketing Cloud ties together some existing Salesforce products and delivers something businesses need in the social age – the ability to both measure, and react to external social influences,” Mr Kepes says.

“I’ve seen marketing cloud in action and by gluing together the monitoring aspects of social and tying them to actual workflow and automation, Salesforce provides an end-to-end solution that will lower the barriers to entry into the social realm for its enterprise customers.” has also launched Salesforce Touch, an HTML 5-based mobile app. Last week we saw Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg say HTML 5 was one of his company’s biggest mistakes. The social network has now refocused on native apps for Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.

But Mr Coffee said using HTML 5 meant Salesforce Touch meant a “device neutral” experience, with the same look and feel on any device.

Also demo'd today were:

  • Salesforce Chatter Communities for Partners “enabling customers to tap directly into a private social community of industry peers and company experts” and Salesforce Identity for  “Facebook-like identity for the enterprise,” a single, social, trusted identity service to access and centrally manage every cloud app. Mr Coffee said the new products were aimed at using social media style tools to interact with other companies – but also to interact better with your own (Mr Coffee says today, one third of LinkedIn searches are by people looking for others in their own company.) Commercial launch will be later this year.
  •  Salesforce Social Key - a tool for tying social network information to a contact's more tradtional CRM details. Release will be in the second half of the year. Social Key "simply allows the organization to move away from the current paradigm where enterprise contact data is seen as distinct from external contact data – rather the two things will be merged into one global contact – the way most of us work in our day to day lives" Mr Kepes says.
  • Salesforce A rebranding of HR or HCM (human capital management) performance management software company Rypple, yet another recent acquisition. Again, competior's are circling. SAP bought Rypple rival SuccessFactors for $US3.4 billion in July. 
  •  Salesforce Chatterbox, a competitor to the popular Dropbox that Salesforce says offers secure file sharing across any device. “ChatterBox is a no-brainer. I’ve long opined that DropBox is immature and too great a risk for real business,” Mr Kepes says.

 “At every turn we see Salesforce deliver the glue that ties together their formerly disconnected individual services,” Mr Kepes says.

Today’s announcements “point to Salesforce firmly creating for itself the position of first true IT platform of the cloud era.”

But the advantage could be fleeting. “SAP, Oracle and the like, won’t sit still for long,” Mr Kepes says. shares [NAS:CRM] were up 1.31% in late trading.  The stock has run up 54% this year.

Chris Keall
Thu, 20 Sep 2012
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