Salesforce Embarks on Community-Building for Social Enterprises
By presenting "social" as a set of business behaviors -- not just features -- Salesforce.com hopes to supercharge customer service and sales.
Salesforce.com is betting the path to prosperity for social enterprises requires taking a social-enabled, community-based approach.
The cloud-based CRM provider today debuted Salesforce Communities, an upcoming offering that integrates the company's business process-boosting technology with social features to enable what the company hopes will be a big shift in the behaviors that govern business processes.
"With Salesforce Communities, enterprises will be able to break the boundaries of their companies, connecting them much closer to their customers and partners," said Doug Bewsher, senior vice president of Salesforce Chatter.
The company is parlaying social media features like profiles, real-time activity streams and influence measurement into a business-boosting platform that, for instance, will help put the customer first. To achieve this, Salesforce is doing more than squeezing a social network into a business suit, argues Peter Coffee, vice president and Platform Research head in a company blog post.
"The 'dancing bear' era of merely having a social presence is over, and it's no longer impressive (or even adequate) merely to acquire and use social tools: it's essential to adopt social behaviors as part of scalable, governable and constantly improvable processes," writes Coffee.
He adds that much like static Web pages have given way to dynamic online communities, a new era of social media integration can have a similarly profound effect on businesses. "'Social' is a behavior change; becoming a social enterprise is the use of technology to make that change in a way that yields business success," states Coffee.
Hence, a main selling point is that the solution gives social enterprises a leg up in customer service activities. "Salesforce Communities will help social enterprises combine knowledge-driven, peer-assisted and agent-assisted customer service communities into a single unified experience giving customers better and faster service, every time," says the company.
While customer service is an obvious and compelling focus for many organizations, the company is also betting partner ecosystems can benefit from the offering. Among the ways organizations can leverage Salesforce Communities is to employ its social features "to drive more sales through seamless deal registration, access to proven sales tools and collaboration with the right experts," states the company. Moreover, businesses can use Salesforce Communities as a launch pad to create branded experiences, establish private communities or support social-enabled communities that number in the millions.
A limited pilot program is scheduled to go online in the fall of 2012. General availability is planned for the second half of 2013, at which time Salesforce will release pricing details.