Salesforce.com Adds Twitter to Cloud-based CRM

By Lawrence Walsh  |  Print this article Print


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Salesforce.com, a pioneer in cloud computing, aligns with Twitter to provide easier and deeper access to customer satisfaction and service through microblogging. Analysts see the alignment as a means to keep Salesforce from becoming a “me too” among the growing chorus of SAAS offerings.

Two doctors at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit used Twitter during a recent brain surgery to connect with more than 1,900 medical students who were observing the complicated procedure from afar. Salesforce.com is betting that innovative uses of microblogging will lead to better customer service, through its new Salesforce CRM for Twitter.

The new application will allow users of Salesforce.com’s popular cloud-based CRM application to link directly to Twitter users, to monitor customer feedback, experiences and complaints. The theory is that linking the two cloud-based applications will improve communications between businesses and users, and lead to greater levels of customer service and customer satisfaction. Salesforce.com already has a similar product and arrangement with Facebook, the leading social networking site.

"Since its introduction in January, we've seen tremendous momentum and validation from customers, prospects and partners that the Service Cloud represents the future of customer service," said Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff in a statement. "[This] announcement builds on this momentum by enabling companies to join the conversations happening between the more than eight million users on Twitter."

Salesforce last week announced a new online training program to make it easier for CRM users to adopt its CRM application, as well as make it easier for developers to create modules for the SAAS CRM suite.

Salesforce.com is at a crossroads in its history. Founded by Benioff a decade ago, Salesforce.com was among the first to preach the benefits of cloud computing and software as a service. A pioneer of the SAAS model, Salesforce.com recently surpassed the $1 billion mark in annual revenues.

But in the last decade, SAAS has taken off and one-time naysayers of the model—Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, Amazon—are now major forces in the cloud computing and Web services world.

Analysts believe Salesforce.com’s alignment with social networking services, such as Twitter and Facebook, will keep the company relevant and sufficiently differentiated from johnny-come-latelys, such as NetSuite and Microsoft.

"Customers are looking to the cloud for experts to help answer their service questions. With more than eight million users, Twitter is a new destination for customer conversations, yet most companies don't have a strategy for joining those conversations," said Rebecca Wettemann, VP Research, Nucleus Research, in a statement. "Salesforce CRM for Twitter and the Service Cloud provides companies of all sizes an efficient and effective way to join the Twitter conversation."

Solution providers may find new uses and customers with the Salesforce CRM for Twitter, as the application will open new opportunities for custom deployments and applications for the online platform.

Salesforce CRM for Twitter is a free application scheduled for release through Salesforce’s Force.Com AppExchange this summer.


Lawrence Walsh Lawrence Walsh is editor of Baseline magazine, overseeing print and online editorial content and the strategic direction of the publication. He is also a regular columnist for Ziff Davis Enterprise's Channel Insider. Mr. Walsh is well versed in IT technology and issues, and he is an expert in IT security technologies and policies, managed services, business intelligence software and IT reseller channels. An award-winning journalist, Mr. Walsh has served as editor of CMP Technology's VARBusiness and GovernmentVAR magazines, and TechTarget's Information Security magazine. He has written hundreds of articles, analyses and commentaries on the development of reseller businesses, the IT marketplace and managed services, as well as information security policy, strategy and technology. Prior to his magazine career, Mr. Walsh was a newspaper editor and reporter, having held editorial positions at the Boston Globe, MetroWest Daily News, Brockton Enterprise and Community Newspaper Company.

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