SalesForce.com Gets Unstructured
Updated · Apr 10, 2007
Salesforce.com is broadening its database capabilities by adding the ability to work with unstructured data to its AppExchange and CRM applications. The new Apex Content platform is based on technology acquired by Salesforce.com’s March acquisition of Koral Technologies.
Koral was a startup of only nine employees. It was making the rounds at DEMO just last summer. The Koral technology is designed to search through multiple datasources, most of them unstructured.
readily admits it has fallen short in handling unstructured data, such as documents, objects, images or metadata. “We’ve always helped people manage their structured data very well, but we haven’t helped them manage their unstructured data,” Kendall Collins, senior vice president of product marketing told internetnews.com.
Ismael Ghalimi, CEO of business process management developer Intalio, agreed on this weakness in Salesforce.com’s line of services. “Their ability to manage unstructured data is quite limited in functionality,” he said. “You couldn’t do full text searches on your documents. All a search would know about is the title of the document, not what’s inside it. You couldn’t search with tags or metadata.”
Collins cited an IDC/Merrill Lynch study that said 85 percent of all data is unstructured, and it’s doubling in volume every two months. Much of that is media, thanks to sites like YouTube.
He also pointed to IDC research that showed 44 percent of business workers can’t find what they are looking for on their corporate intranet, while 87 percent of the consumer market can find what it wants. “That means we have more luck going to Flickr and Netflix than we have going to a corporate intranet,” said Collins.
Apex Content will be the platform for supporting unstructured data such as office documents, HTML files, video/audio files and e-mail, replacing on-premise document management software. All Salesforce applications, including AppSpace, Salesforce PRM, and Salesforce Wealth Management Edition, will be able to use unstructured data.
Apex Content will allow companies to configure customizable content types and determine what meta-data should be captured with each content type. This data shows up in a tag “cloud” on AppExchange, just as it does in Web 2.0-enhanced sites, with the more popular topics in large fonts.
The first application built on Apex Content will be ContentExchange, a Web 2.0-based content management system that will help companies store, share, find and manage the business information that currently lives in documents, emails and HTML by using the same tagging principles used on popular consumer Web sites.
Salesforce.com only just recently closed the Koral acquisition, so it’s not ready to talk about integration plans. Collins said the company is announcing Apex Content now simply to get in front of any buzz over the deal. Pricing and availability are expected this summer.
Ghalimi was already a Koral customer and liked the service, and expects more from the eventual Salesforce.com integration. “It was the best [document management system] I could find. Now I expect it will be even better when they are fully integrated with AppExchange,” he said.