RealTime IT News

Salesforce Summer Ups Collaboration, Workflow

Salesforce.com issued its Summer '09 release today with many new upgrades built around three core features: workflow optimization; contact center collaboration; and improved charting. The new release will roll out during June of 2009 across, server by server across the Salesforce.com cloud.

Rather than focus on any one feature of the new release, executives said that the key achievement in Summer '09 is that it once again demonstrates ease of delivery of new features in a cloud environment. "The theme is the real-time cloud. Its seamless delivery," said Viviana Padilla, Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM) senior manager of product marketing.

The new features are guaranteed to not only be compatible with existing apps from Salesforce.com, they are also guaranteed to work with custom apps from Salesforce.com customers. In addition, an advanced application tracking feature now allows partners to maintain backwards compatibility when they upgrade their custom apps.

Perhaps the biggest change is workflow optimization. This new feature rolls out immediately to both Sales Cloud (CRM) customers and to Service Cloud (contact center) customers. It allows companies to program event triggers that ensure that the right procedures are followed.

The optimizer can trigger e-mails based on events in the customer help and deal closing process based on a massive number of potential situations. "Our customers have created over 220,000 workflow rules using our point and click wizard interface," said Padilla.

She added that the optimizer uses standard Business Process Modeling notation (BPMN).

At the contact center itself, the new Real Time Partner Collaboration feature allows companies to share help desk knowledge with their partners. This upgrades the features in the Service Cloud Twitter announcement from earlier this year that help companies solve problems in Twitter streams and store solutions from Twitter in the knowledge base.

Now, as companies are tracking customer issues in social media, they can share questions and find answers by collaborating with their partners. "Before, this required a stream of e-mails," said Padilla. "Now users can click on 'forward this case' to share it with their partner."

Al Falcione, Salesforce.com's senior director of product marketing, explained that a telco could bring in a headset manufacturer if one of their users couldn't get the headset to work on the mobile network.

So much for the details. For those managers handling the big picture, Salesforce.com added two new charts and several new colors. The "funnel chart" allows managers to see the percentage of deals that are at various stages of completion, from prospecting to closing. The "doughnut chart" helps managers view data in segments with a summary number in the center.

Another new feature is that overlay data now appears on the charts. This helps managers understand the data they see. The goal is to "enable companies to make quicker and more well-informed business decisions," the company said in a statement.

Padilla said that the new features will be released at no extra charge to existing customers of the various Salesforce.com products.