June 20, 2003 5:41 PM PDT

Salesforce.com polishes CRM wares

Salesforce.com plans to release a new version of its sales and marketing applications on Monday that adds document management and other new capabilities.

The updated release, called S3, introduces several new features, including a system for storing and sharing business documents, such as contracts and marketing material, said Marc Benioff, chief executive of the San Francisco software company.

S3 is also designed to take advantage of Sforce, a program Salesforce.com launched earlier this month that lets developers customize its applications and build new ones using tools from Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Borland and BEA Systems, Benioff said.

In conjunction with the release of S3, Salesforce.com has inked a distribution deal with Dell Computer, Benioff said. Under the terms of the agreement, Dell plans to feature Salesforce.com's products on its small-business solutions Web site. In addition, Salesforce.com plans to run the S3 programs on Dell servers. Salesforce.com already has reseller relationships with several other companies, including Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

In an effort to enable Salesforce.com software to more easily exchange data with different business systems, Salesforce.com also plans to unveil on Monday a partnership with Tibco Software. The companies plan to jointly sell a new product called the Salesforce.com Integration Server, designed to link Salesforce.com to applications from Siebel, SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft, and Lotus Notes from IBM. The product is slated for release by September.

The new products and partnerships are aimed at making Salesforce.com's software delivery model over the Internet palatable to a wider range of companies, Benioff said. "We want to become a more mainstream (software) provider," Benioff said. "We want to address objections that have been slapped on to the application service provider model."

Salesforce.com competes with Siebel, SAP, PeopleSoft, Epiphany and others in the market for customer relationship management software, a set of programs designed to track customer accounts and sales prospects. A key difference between Salesforce.com and many of its rivals is that the company relies on the Internet to give customers access to its software, which it maintains and runs on its own computers for a monthly fee.

Some companies have been reluctant to use ASP services, such as Salesforce.com's, over concerns about the ability to customize the applications and tie them to other business systems.


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