Salesforce adds Dimensions to CRM

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Software-as-a-service (SaaS) firm Salesforce.com is enhancing its customer relationship management (CRM) offering with the purchase of knowledge management provider InStranet for US$31.5m..

InStranet's Dimensions technology will be added to Salesforce Customer Service and Support to help call centre agents provide faster and more effective service, said Salesforce in a report.

"We are excited to add this unmatched technology to our SaaS applications and Force.com platform," said Marc Benioff, Salesforce chief executive, in a statement.

"Not only will it make our service and support offering stronger for our customers and further their success, it will help catapult our growth in the customer service and support space."

Salesforce claims that the problem with a lot of CRM solutions is that they rely on keyword search technology which often produces irrelevant information.

This causes call centre agents to waste time wading through all the data, and customers to struggle when trying to find answers through web-based self-service portals for the same reason, the firm noted.

From potentially next February, customers will be given more intelligent results when using the Salesforce platform because the Dimensions technology adds customer context, such as product or geography, to the knowledge base to quickly hone in on the right solution and eliminate irrelevant search results, added the Salesforce report.

The integration of the InStranet technology with the Salesforce platform will not cause problems because InStranet already offers hosted and on-premise solutions, explained Salesforce European senior product manager Robin Daniels.

Also, a lot of Salesforce CRM customers have already been using the Dimensions technology through the Salesforce AppExchange programme offering more than 800 plug-in applications from more than 400 different companies, Daniels added.

Dimensions will not be completely consumed by Salesforce and will still be available for customers to purchase as a standalone offering, according to InStranet executive vice president of operations, Jean-Noel Grandval.

The Salesforce acquisition of InStranet closed on 4 August 2008.

The transition of InStranet’s technology to the Salesforce.com Force.com platform will be in fiscal year 2010, which starts for Salesforce.com in February.

The price of the new Salesforce CRM solution has yet to be announced, but Daniels said that customers currently using both firms' technologies through the could expect simplified pricing because they would be purchasing from a single vendor.

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