Online CRM provider Salesforce.com is upgrading its flagship enterprise offering as it tries to penetrate the large market.
Salesforce.com announced across-the-board improvements to Enterprise Edition, including more powerful administration and implementation capabilities for its sales, marketing and customer support modules.
Updated features in the newest iteration of Enterprise Edition include an improved activity management tool within the core sales force automation (SFA) offering. Salesforce.com is also adding more report filters and greater flexibility for creating custom reports. For marketing automation, enhancements include leads that can be mass updated and "campaign cloning" ability. In the customer self-service portal, customers can expect new ease-of-use features and tools for faster deployment.
Salesforce.com Enterprise Edition sells for $125 per user per month.
While the jury remains out as to whether San Francisco-based Salesforce.com is stealing business from more-entrenched CRM vendors such as Siebel Systems Inc., San Mateo, Calif., it can point to several recent customer wins among Fortune 2000 firms. For instance, Salesforce.com recently signed a contract with pharmaceutical sales and marketing services provider Innovex Inc., a company that also evaluated Siebel software.
Cary Fulbright, senior vice president of marketing at Salesforce.com, said users who first turned to Salesforce.com only for SFA now want it to provide them with end-to-end CRM.
According to CRM industry analysts, Salesforce.com is still winning more deals based on its ASP delivery model and monthly pricing than on raw functionality.
"Salesforce.com's success has thus far been based on its alternative delivery channel," said Scott Nelson, a vice president at analyst firm Gartner Inc. in Stamford, Conn. "I don't see them being evaluated head to head with Siebel in many cases."
However, Nelson acknowledges Salesforce.com's success in adding complexity to its CRM services. He said Salesforce.com is gaining supporters in larger companies through a "Trojan horse" effect, by which IT managers who have had positive experiences with the company's SFA tools are advocating other products.
Other experts feel Salesforce.com may eventually be usurped by other e-CRM providers such as NetLedger Inc. in San Mateo, Calif. Barton Goldenberg, president and founder of Bethesda, Md.-based CRM consultancy ISM Inc., said NetLedger enjoys a "simple advantage" over Salesforce.com in that its software has stronger ties to back-office applications.
"Salesforce.com is strictly front-office, and the market wants a more integrated approach," Goldenberg said.
Salesforce.com also said its Offline Edition will now be available in 10 languages and that its Airforce Wireless Edition will support more devices.
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