Salesforce.com Launches On-Demand Toolkits

Erin Joyce

Updated · Apr 13, 2004

NEW YORK — Online customer relationship management (CRM) software provider
salesforce.com today launched a new suite of tools to help customers roll out
highly customized in-house applications, part of its bid to replace
specialized programming with drag-and-drop toolkits that create
applications on the fly.

The suite, part of its Spring 04 release, includes salesforce.com Studio
and sforce 3.0, the company’s latest on-demand platform upgrade that helps
customers and subscribers to its software-as-a-service applications create
Custom Tabs, as well as new applications with associated objects. The
company said the new suite enables point-and-click creation of Custom
Tabs — as well as new applications with associated objects, pages and
tabs — to extend CRM to fit any terminology, industry and business
environment.

“We think this is our most important and exciting release we’ve ever
had,” said Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of salesforce.com. “You don’t have
to hire C++ or Java programmers for this.” During a briefing event in New
York, Benioff said the company’s Spring 04 update brings it closer to
delivering its dream: ending the era of software delivered on CD in order to
deploy it as a service, utility-style, over the Internet.

“Salesforce.com has ushered in a new era of CRM customization while
remaining as easy to use as ever,” Benioff added, while sticking by his
assertion that software delivered over the Internet, in an on-demand
environment, is going to disintermediate the entire software industry as it
has historically operated.

No more [charges] for more software you need, he added. “No more charges
for hardware, CPUs, or load balancing or SSL accelerators, for that matter.”

Company officials said with the new salesforce.com APIs included
in the platform, end users can deploy drag-and-drop functionality that
lets customers build in-house, industry-specific functions without bringing
in specialty programmers. The platform lets users define object
relationships between different custom objects and/or between standard and
custom objects, officials said.

For example, an expense custom object can
have a relationship to the opportunity standard object in salesforce.com. This will automatically create a related list for expenses on the
opportunity page. The object relationships in salesforce.com are similar to
the “Foreign Key” concept in database terminology, officials added.

In addition, administrators can configure page sections, fields, Web
integration links and related lists on the Custom Tap pages. The platform
also supports the reporting on all custom objects through the reporting
engine, and lets admins add custom object data to salesforce.com dashboards.

The idea is to help the company’s 9,500 customers and 140,000 subscribers
extend their own customer relationship applications.

Other new features that salesforce.com will officially roll out on Tuesday include its
sforce 3.0 release, the latest upgrade to the company’s on-demand platform.
Using the Studio and sforce 3.0 tools, customers can create new application
modules or tackle more advanced projects by using Studio in combination with
sforce Web services API and their development platform of choice, such as
the .NET or J2EE environments, officials said.

The latest version builds on the ability in the prior release to include
advanced custom objects, which allows customers to extend their
salesforce.com data model with new data types and models. With sforce 3.0,
customer objects have been enhanced to include management of relationships
between objects, creation of custom layouts, new security capabilities and
automatic reporting and indexing.

Database-mirroring API’s are now available in the sforce Web service
platform, which help facilitate integration with local data warehouse
systems and allow for simple deployment of advanced analytic
capabilities, officials said.

Salesforce.com officials made the announcement during two press and analyst
events Monday, one in New York and the other in San Francisco. It also plans
to launch the product in London on Tuesday.

The announcement came on the heels of a report in the San Francisco
Chronicle
that the company’s much anticipated IPO could be delayed
after Securities and Exchange Commission officials ordered salesforce.com to
change the way it accounts for sales commissions. The company’s
software-by-subscription method of selling software has apparently run into
some snags as to how the company recognizes revenue.

Benioff told internetnews.com he could not comment on the report,
in keeping with SEC rules ahead of public stock offerings.

According to salesforce.com’s S1 registration, filed in February, the
company’s net loss in 2003 was $10.1 million on revenues of $51 million. The
revenues, however, were more than double the total revenues of $22.4 million
during the prior year, when it declared a net loss of $30.2 million.