Apex at Dreamforce, AppExchange News, Java's Jive, Brainshark

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David Sims
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Apex at Dreamforce, AppExchange News, Java's Jive, Brainshark

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is an iTunes mix of The Supersuckers. Why did it take me so long to discover this band?

As had been promised, salesforce.com announced Apex at Dreamforce '06. Apex, company officials say, is " the world's first on-demand programming language and platform."

They also announced the Apex Alliance, a group of industry firms, including salesforce.com customers, industry partners, and venture capital firms, supporting Apex.

"For the first time, all members of salesforce.com's community have access to the same power to create as the company's own developers," salesforce.com officials said.

The Apex Alliance is a laundry list of the salesforce.com partners you've probably heard of, such as Accenture, Adobe, Bluewolf, Cingular Wireless, Dell, Palm, Research In Motion (RIM), Skype, Sprint Nextel and Symantec. Those kinds of companies.

Apex will run on Dell and Intel architecture in salesforce.com data centers using Dell's new 1x50 architecture. Venture capital firms supporting the initiative include Angel Investors, Emergence Capital Partners, Hummer Winblad and Minor Ventures.

Calling Apex a "fundamental breakthrough in the scope and scale of on-demand applications," Marc Benioff, salesforce.com chairman and CEO said it gives "the entire community the same creative power as our own developers."

Apex will enable customers, developers and partners to build new on-demand applications "that go far beyond CRM, and for the first time, write their own code" and have it run with what salesforce.com officials claim is "the security, reliability, upgradeability and ease-of-use" of salesforce.com's own multi-tenant service.

Customers will be able to use Apex to modify the core features and functionality of their Salesforce deployments for their own business needs and integrate new applications and components from partners and developers.

"Without any infrastructure investment, anyone will be able to build on-demand applications with unprecedented power to innovate with the same creative freedom as salesforce.com's own developers," company officials claim.

The Apex platform is currently scheduled for availability in conjunction with Salesforce Winter '07, and the Apex language is currently scheduled for availability in the first half of 2007. Customers who purchase salesforce.com applications should make their purchase decisions based upon features that are currently available.

Aw what the heck, they're working hard pumping out the news at Dreamforce, let's be nice to Marc and fill you in on some more of it:

Salesforce.com and Cisco Systems have announced that the two companies are working together to make the Cisco Unified CallManager Express Connector available for salesforce.com's AppExchange.

CallManager Express is the call-processing component of the Cisco Unified Communications system for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). The connector integrates Cisco's Unified Communications with salesforce.com's on- demand business services.

The product will offer SMBs and branch offices a "complete, user-friendly" product for customer service, providing features such as click-to-dial and screen pop-ups on both incoming and outgoing calls, enabling frontline employees across the company to view customer account activity and contact information before answering the phone.

Basically the idea behind integrating Cisco Unified CallManager Express with Salesforce is to give salesforce.com customers and AppExchange partners the ability to use feature-rich telephony, things like voice, presence, collaboration, conferencing and video with the suite of Salesforce on-demand business applications.

The idea is for all Salesforce applications, including Salesforce SFA and Salesforce Service & Support, along with the more than 400 applications on the AppExchange, to be able to take advantage of a common communication platform, delivering better business-class communication features to salesforce.com customers and the overall SMB market since, as Peter Alexander, vice president for worldwide SMB marketing at Cisco Systems says, "seventy percent of all customer interactions take place over the phone."

Another announcement from salesforce.com is that Jive Software, a cleverly-named provider of Java-based enterprise collaboration software ("I like coffee, I like tea…"), has announced the availability of Jive Software's Support Forums application on AppExchange.

Company officials describe Jive Software's Support Forums for AppExchange as "extending the salesforce self-service portal by adding customer support forums that help companies quickly resolve their customer inquiries without burdening support resources."

Aimed at the SMB market, the product is described by Jive officials as allowing small to mid-sized businesses using Salesforce can to "reduce their support costs by allowing customers to support each other, allowing agents to respond to forum requests from within Salesforce, and building a living knowledge base of support content for reuse."

In other words running a Q 'n' A forum where company reps can jump in.

New forum questions automatically generate a customer service case in Salesforce, as Jive's Support Forums are integrated with salesforce.com's case management system. Forum questions that go unanswered for a specified period of time are escalated to support agents, and cases are automatically closed when a question has been marked as answered.

"In the past, a lot of small to mid-sized organizations have had to put a basic forums application on their Web site and hope that it would work," said David Hersh, CEO, Jive Software, noting that such apps "quickly becomes a management headache and a point of customer frustration since there's no accountability, workflow or integration with support cases."

What's different here, he says, is that with integration into AppExchange, "companies of all sizes can have an enterprise-class self-service support environment that works seamlessly with salesforce.com's extensive CRM services."

The minute a customer enters a request in the forum, an agent is automatically notified of the new posting and can tend to the inquiry. As customers use the support forums, the archive of answers grows, providing content for future users and further reducing the incoming support requests.

There's also the capability for advanced reporting, where in-depth reporting creates valuable snapshots of the community and helps pinpoint issues. Reports are generated based on usage, traffic, members and open questions.

And finally, Brainshark, Inc., a vendor of on-demand communications for sales and marketing, has announced that iPipeline has deployed Brainshark via the salesforce.com AppExchange.

With Brainshark, marketers, sales reps and other users can send on-demand presentations to their prospects or customers from within any Salesforce contact record. Sales reps receive instant notification back to Salesforce once the presentation has been viewed by the prospect or customer with in-depth viewing details on which section or topic was viewed, and can be prompted to follow up with a reminder task.

Dashboard views provide sales reps, marketers, and management with insight into how important company messages are being delivered and received throughout the sales process and by whom.

If read off-site hit http://blog.tmcnet.com/telecom-crm/ for the fully-linked version. First CoffeeSM accepts no sponsored content.

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