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Salesforce.com and Cisco offer fully cloud-based call center

Barney Beal, News Director

Salesforce.com and Cisco Systems Inc. today detailed a new integrated product connecting Salesforce.com's contact center software with Cisco's on-demand contact center telephony.

The product, dubbed the Customer Interaction Cloud, will be available in the first quarter of 2010.

"They've had a relationship for a couple of years and had some integration earlier," said Chris Fletcher, analyst with Boston-based AMR Research. "This is a different slant on the same integration. Taking Salesforce.com with the on-demand offering from Cisco, you can create a call center in your office with no other equipment besides a desktop computer."

Under the arrangement, Salesforce.com provides the contact center software and CRM while Cisco provides the IP telephony, PBX and routing.

"The combination of Cisco's Unified Communications and Salesforce.com's Service Cloud 2 will provide companies with a true cloud-based option when it comes to their customer service needs," Alex Dayon, senior vice president of the customer service and support product line at Salesforce.com, said in a statement. "Companies will no longer have to manage routers, servers and switches when it comes to their contact center. They can focus on delivering the best customer service possible."

The offering will appeal primarily to small and medium-sized businesses, Fletcher said, though it may prove useful for larger enterprises opening up a new division or needing

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to bring a new acquisition's customer service operation up and running quickly. In fact, the Customer Interaction Cloud will focus on organizations with 30 to 300 customer service representatives.

Salesforce.com and Cisco had integrated their offerings in the past with the Cisco Unified CallConnector for Salesforce.com, an application that could be downloaded from Force.com, integrating Cisco's Unified Communications Manager (formerly Cisco CallManager) with the Salesforce.com application.

"We've talked to companies [that] are using on-demand in their contact center,” Fletcher said, “but this is the first time I've seen an IP-based contact center technology combined with an on-demand offering.”


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