Salesforce targets enterprise content management

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Salesforce targets enterprise content management is making good on its plan to be an enterprise platform with a forthcoming edition that takes the firm into enterprise content management (ECM), the strengthening of its developer platform and a new service that lets firms change the look and feel of programs.

The ECM capability will come with a feature called Salesforce Content in the Winter ‘08 release that is due in the fourth calendar quarter. The move is intended to help firms manage unstructured information and will take Salesforce into competition with firms such as IBM, EMC and Open Text.

“Products like Documentum and SharePoint have failed,” said Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff, adding that “content management as a service” will help by using consumer-sourced technologies such as tag clouds or the ability to find most popular searches or most popular results in a manner similar to YouTube.

Another key feature is Salesforce Ideas, a tool for letting firms gain wisdom by polling users for feedback through online communities. The tool is already used by salesforce itself in IdeaExchange, and by Dell in in its IdeaStorm site.

Other features of the Winter release will include inline editing, custom help hovers, tagging, historical currency management, custom object translation, forecast delegation and contact audit trails.

Salesforce also discussed developments to, the new name for its platform that is based on the Apex programming language and is intended to provide the basis of an ecosystem of developers and user organisations producing new and modified business applications.

“There’s no way we’re going to build every application for every industry,” Benioff said. “Customers wanted a platform under the application.”

Several users are already using Apex, having already generated over 384,000 lines of code, while many others have used created services using custom objects and buttons. Disney has developed an application that tracks promotional appearances of Mickey Mouse, for example.

Jeff Hunter, director of global strategies and technology at games software developer Electronic Arts, has developed recruitment, contract management and vendor management services.

“We had to it fast, get speed to innovation and do it on budget,” he said. “We did the recruitment management in three weeks and vendor management in six weeks.”

Marc Sternberg, principal of the Bronx Lab School in New York, said, “We’ve gone to town on Salesforce. We wanted to track daily attendance and see who was coming to school and who was not coming to school. We realised it was really good for that and now we run [several other processes on Salesforce].”

The most important new feature of is Visualforce, allowing firms to change the user interface of pages via a component library of pre-built options.

“Visualforce was a real clincher for us because we like to create tailored interfaces for the users so they don’t have to understand some of the complex of the international accounting environment,” said Jeremy Roche, chief executive of Coda Group, a developer of accounting software. @ 2010 Incisive Media

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