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Posted September 23, 2011 By Paul Shread     Feedback

Salesforce's vision of the 'social enterprise' may be catching on, according to analysts. (NYSE: CRM) is "winning the hearts, minds (and wallets) of enterprise software buyers," and not just in its core customer relationship management (CRM) market, according to an analyst report.

Tom Roderick and Gur Talpaz of Stifel Nicolaus wrote in a research note today that "Heavy enthusiasm surrounding the company's product portfolio is the generally accepted norm amongst both the financial community and actual software buyers. Beyond the marketing hype, however, we believe something far more significant is happening behind the scenes: is legitimately seeing real interest from enterprise-wide buyers for large-scale deployments that encompass multiple solutions. Our post-Dreamforce checks have resoundingly indicated that large enterprise customers believe they can do so much more with"

The analysts noted that Salesforce is in the process of displacing Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) Siebel CRM in "several large deals," among them Conoco Philips and "one of the world's largest technology vendors."

"What particularly interests us, however, is that these wins encompass far more than just SFA [sales force automation], as the company's Service Cloud and Chatter offerings are driving enterprise-wide interest in the company's cloud-based platform," they wrote.

Roderick and Talpaz said Salesforce could benefit further from a weakening economy, which "could actually serve as a catalyst for enterprise-wide displacements, given both increased comfort for 'cloud-based' solutions amongst large-enterprise purchasers as well as the lower inherent cost associated with a hosted deployment. Simply put, we believe that can and will establish itself as the first SaaS company to gain enterprise-wide approval."

Recently acquired Radian6 is at the heart of Salesforce's "social enterprise" vision, and Roderick and Talpaz said rapid integration of the social intelligence technology is behind the company's recent push into enterprise accounts.

Radian6, they said, is "far and away the best social intelligence platform in the market today. We believe that Radian6 has the potential to be the single most important acquisition for, for the simple reason that the service has the potential to bridge the gap across the Sales Cloud, the Service Cloud and Chatter."

The analysts have a buy rating and $160 price target on Salesforce.

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