Salesforce Refreshes Sales, Service Clouds
A feature that brings CRM functionality to email inboxes and a new field service management service are among Salesforce's latest product updates.
Salesforce chairman and CEO Marc Benioff did not intend to add configure-price-quote (CPQ) software to Salesforce's suite of offerings. But he changed his mind after attending a presentation in which Salesforce partner SteelBrick showcased its CPQ application built on Salesforce's Lightning platform.
"I thought it was the best example I'd seen of an ISV building an application on this platform," he said. "It was a great example of what we want to do with the platform."
Benioff was so impressed that Salesforce bought SteelBrick for $360 million, closing the acquisition earlier this month. Steelbrick CPQ is now part of the Salesforce Sales Cloud. "We were good at lead to deal, but we were missing deal to cash," said Alex Dayon, the company's president of Product, noting that the addition of SteelBrick CPQ means Salesforce can now offer a complete lead-to-cash sales solution.
Steelbrick CPQ was just one of several new products Salesforce introduced for its Sales Cloud and its Service Cloud, at a San Francisco event packed with Salesforce executives, customers and partners.
In addition to SteelBrick CPQ, Salesforce showcased a new click-to-call feature called Lightning Voice that enables sales people to make calls directly from the Sales Cloud; a Wave analytics application that offers dashboards to help sales managers and sales people track performance and highlight opportunities; Lightning Actions that facilitate collaboration; and IQ Inbox, an application designed to bring full-blown CRM functionality to email inboxes.
Also for sales people, the company added offline capabilities to Salesforce1 Mobile so work done offline automatically syncs with the platform when a sales rep gets back online.
Some of the new Sales Cloud features are available today. IQ Inbox is available for $25 per user, per month. Steelbrick CPQ is $40 per user, per month. Sales Wave App is $75 per user, per month.
Field Service Management
Salesforce also rolled out a new service called Field Service Lightning, which aims to enhance communications between customer service agents, field service representatives and their customers.
The company expects the new service, which will be part of its Service Cloud, to be available in the second quarter of this year. As demonstrated by Sarah Patterson, who heads up product marketing and strategy for the Service Cloud, "smart scheduling" will allow agents to dispatch service reps based on factors such as skills, availability and location and to quickly make changes in situations where, for example, a service rep gets stuck in traffic.
Service employees can create and update work orders and change requests and job status from any device. "The second he gets there, dispatch is notified and can send a push notification to the customer," Patterson said.
Though field service management is not exactly a "sexy" enterprise application, interest in this area appears to be growing, as evidenced by Oracle's 2014 acquisition of field service specialist TOA Technologies and Microsoft's July purchase of FieldOne Systems, a provider of field service management.
In a hint of developments to come, Adam Bosworth, EVP of Salesforce's IoT Cloud, responded to an analyst's question by noting that future integration of the IoT Cloud and the Service Cloud is likely. Field Service Lightning, for example, is about "listening to realtime events and doing the right thing," he said, adding that this usually entails integration with customer and/or employee interactions.
Salesforce is also tweaking its pricing tiers in an effort at simplification. As Dayon writes in a blog post, the company's current Professional Edition, Enterprise Edition and Unlimited Edition for Sales Cloud and Service Cloud will be replaced by new Lightning Professional Edition, Lightning Enterprise Edition and Lightning Unlimited Edition for Sales Cloud and Service Cloud. The new editions will be priced at $75, $150 and $300, respectively. The new editions should become available this summer. Existing customers will automatically receive capabilities included in the new editions.
The strength of the Lightning platform, which was introduced last year and marks Salesforce's most ambitious effort to date of re-imagining and expanding its business beyond its core CRM competency, was the underlying theme of all of the announcements.
Thanks to Lightning, Salesforce is "shipping more innovation than ever," Dayon said.
Ann All is the editor of Enterprise Apps Today and eSecurity Planet. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade, writing about everything from business intelligence to virtualization.