The San Francisco firm said the Outlook Integration solution lets sales and customer service personnel send and receive e-mail messages through Outlook and log relevant messages in Salesforce.com through Outlook to provide a complete scan of customer data. While a first for Salesforce.com, it is hardly a first in the industry. Competitor UpShot made the same play last November.
Salesforce.com's new product relies on its own on-demand platform to lump Outlook with its CRM service. That is a major reason why this product does not rely on Microsoft Exchange or some other server for integration: it uses real-time data lookups via Salesforce.com's XML application programming interface to deliver the data. This means workers can communicate using either application without worry that information will be trapped in desktop silos.
Further, users can associate inbound and outbound e-mails with the right lead or contact in Salesforce.com, reducing bothersome e-mail clutter. The firm makes the case that, by obviating double entry in favor of full information disclosure, the new application increases productivity.
"Our Outlook integration solution eliminates the need for server integration, and the IT headaches that go with it, in favor of one-click installation, with no learning curve," said Salesforce.com chairman and CEO Marc Benioff.
Salesforce.com's on-demand approach to CRM apps was vindicated by a recent study by research firm Gartner, which found that some 42 percent of all enterprise CRM software licenses purchased are never deployed. The firm, which in addition to battling UpShot competes with the likes of PeopleSoft and Siebel in the lucrative CRM app market, suggested its pay-as-you-go approach produces immediate results and success.