A more collaborative cloud involving mobile devices and real-time data feeds about people and objects is where CRM (customer relationship management) vendor Salesforce.com is putting its focus, an executive with the company told ComputerWorld Canada. "That's really where we're spending a lot of time thinking," said Clarence So, senior vice-president of product strategy with salesforce.com, who was in Toronto this week.
Salesforce.com calls this new paradigm Cloud2. But its predecessor, Cloud1, is by no means out of the picture with two million paying users. "Cloud1 is great, don't get me wrong," said So. Salesforce.com plans to continue in the Cloud1 space with offerings like its AppExchange, a marketplace for exchanging data and APIs.
"Where we think we'll get 20 million users is really embracing these Cloud2 philosophies around collaboration, real-time feeds and mobile technologies," said So.
New use cases on the web emerge daily that force the cloud paradigm to shift, having moved a long way from when search was the primary way of navigating information on web pages, said So. "Asynchronous communication is not just email anymore," he said.
Pro-Bel, a safety roof anchor company, adopted salesforce.com to replace its legacy CRM. Jason Fung, Pro-Bel's CIO, said adoption of salesforce is a "work in progress" in that they are continually adopting new capabilities as they become available and as they see fit.
While CRM (lead generation, marketing) was the primary motivation behind using salesforce.com, Fung said the company has since built uses cases that are more related to enterprise resource planning (ERP) back-office including purchase ordering, invoicing, product catalogue.
Fung said Pro-Bel, along with a company it formed, will look at how salesforce.com's social collaboration platform Chatter might work for them and their satellite offices in China and Dubai. "We see it more as a discovery process," said Fung.
Nonetheless, Fung said Pro-Bel has been "very purposefully" moving into cloud computing to take advantage of capabilities like rapid application development. The company makes a point of considering new cloud technologies as they emerge, said Fung. "If we stay put too long, some things can't be changed and we get stuck," he said.
When Salesforce.com launched Chatter last February, the company positioned it as an alternative to Microsoft SharePoint and IBM Lotus Notes. So said SharePoint and Lotus Notes have carved out "very nice niches" to enable some forms of asynchronous collaboration but client-server computing really only enables a user count in the "hundreds and sometimes thousands," said So.
"It's not that easy to provision and add users all the time on the fly in this world because it's expensive and there's a setup process to this," said So.
Moving forward, So said Salesforce.com will focus its attention on Chatter, making it the "main brand and focal point" of its Cloud2 innovations. However, he added the exact use cases that will become available are at this point anyone's guess. "This is the detail we'll have to iterate our way through to really hone an intelligent feed system that's relevant and not noisy," said So. "I sense that will take some time to sort through."