Salesforce.com a comer

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Online customer relationship management outfit Salesforce.com - one of the few survivors of the US dotcom boom – will crank up a regional headquarters in Sydney, including an Asia-Pacific support facility.

The company would use its Sydney beach-head to rapidly expand operations across the region to service customers in Singapore, Hong Kong and other regional business centres.

Salesforce.com international marketing director Doug Farber, a former Oracle senior executive who spent seven years in regional roles with the database vendor in Hong Kong, has relocated to Sydney to launch the new subsidiary, which is currently being registered.

Salesforce.com is keen to knock heads with CRM competitors such as Siebel and Peoplesoft – Salesforce.com claims to be much cheaper and quicker to implement than its rivals.

Farber said he aimed to open the doors of the local Salesforce.com ASP (application service provider) operation in February. He said the Sydney-based Salesforce.com support facility will cover the final, Asia-Pacific "time-zone window" in the company's global, follow-the-sun support operation.

Salesforce.com already services about 20 customers in Australia that had registered for the US-hosted CRM service as offshore customers. It was the strength of that customer base that drew the company to Australia as a base of operations. The company has about 20 additional customers across the region.

Farber said the company was currently seeking reseller partners to sell the product locally, targeting second tier system integrators that either had experience in CRM implementations, or had other experience within enterprise clients.

The Salesforce.com ASP model, in which applications are hosted in the US and accessed by customers via the web, has been much maligned in the wake of the dotcom flameout.

In the case of CRM, however, the ASP model has given customers an inexpensive option that can be implemented in just two to three months, Farber said, rather than 18 to 24 months.

Since it was founded three years ago, Salesforce.com has grown to become a US$60 million business this year. The company expects to grow to US$110 million next year.

Farber led the company's expansion into Europe, which started in Ireland 18 months ago, before spreading across the UK, Scandinavia, Germany and the rest of Western Europe.

Once the Sydney office had been established, Farber said the company would similarly push its offering across the region until it had a foothold in all major Asian markets.

Farber said the company planned to establish an arm of its Salesforce.com Foundation business charity operation in Australia. Since it was founded, the company has contributed one percent of revenues to its Foundation, which donates to a variety of charitable organisations.

Farber said the company was conscious of its community obligations and had pursued a strategy that integrated its philanthropic efforts into business practices.

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