plugs its on-demand customer relationship management software as easy to install and easy to customize. But customers like Merrill Lynch still could use some consulting help, evidently.
On Tuesday, San Francisco-based Salesforce.com announced that Merrill Lynch had signed on for 5,000 seats. It also announced that systems integrator Accenture would resell its applications, although Salesforce.com wouldn’t say whether Accenture would help Merrill’s brokers get up and running.
“Financial services companies have thrown tons of money into technology and built a lot of these systems themselves,” said Tien Tzuo, Salesforce.com senior vice president of product marketing. “A lot have tried rolling out Siebel but they’re not getting the adoption and usage.”
He said that Salesforce.com can be integrated to the proprietary and legacy systems in use on Wall Street via the applications’ sforce customization tool.
Tzuo said around 20 percent of Salesforce.com transactions come in via the sforce application programming interface
Salesforce.com also announced that systems integrator Accenture would resell its applications, although Tzuo wouldn’t say whether Accenture would help Merrill’s brokers get up and running.
“Accenture does change management, strategy consulting and process engineering. Our application is really easy to set up and configure, but when you look at configuring across 5000 users, regardless of the technology, that comes with a lot of process issues,” Tzuo said.
The Accenture partnership comes a few weeks after IT research firm Gartner issued a warning of hidden costs in the on-demand CRM provider’s products.
“Organizations that have complex sales processes and are evaluating Salesforce.com need to weigh the cost of building and integrating custom applications in areas outside of its functional capacity before making a purchasing decision,” wrote Gartner analyst Robert Desisto.
Summit Strategies analyst Tom Kucharvy said that enterprises implementing Salesforce might primarily need help from a systems integrator like Accenture to hook up the on-demand application with other CRM tools and databases and, particularly, with blend it into their established business processes.
“The higher and higher software-as-service moves up into the enterprise in broader implementations and corporations are looking to integrate into their established [processes], the more help they need. No software company is set up to provide that kind of support,” Kucharvy said.
He said the Accenture deal is a big validation of the position Salesforce.com has in the marketplace. But the implications for integrators like Accenture are also big.
“To the extent that a systems integrator would validate [the capabilities of Salesforce], it would diminish the amount of work they’re going to get,” Kucharvy said. “Most of their traditional implementations would have been on Siebel, which requires extensive customization and encourages it.”
Also on Tuesday, Salesforce.com announced the pending release of Customforce 2.0, a customization toolkit that adds Customforce Business Processes, a packaged set of 100 business functions that can be used within the application. Customforce Business Processes embed business logic and calculations, and include functions such as lead scoring, case aging and commission calculations
Customforce 2.0 is expected to be available in June as part of Salesforce.com’s Summer 2005 release of Salesforce and Supportforce. It will be backwards-compatible with customers’ existing custom applications and delivered automatically at no additional charge.