At Salesforce.com’s recent Dreamforce 2012 conference, CEO Marc Benioff said that his company would “put off for as long as possible” the introduction of back-office applications to go with its core CRM business, but the launch of Work.com seemed to suggest otherwise.
Work.com is the rebranded and updated version of Rypple, an HR performance management tool acquired by Salesforce in December 2011 designed to increase enterprise efficiency by enabling a social and collaborative approach to managing staff.
The application does not provide core HR functions, and Salesforce was at pains to stress during the Work.com session at Dreamforce that its technology partners, such as Workday, will continue to provide these while it works on the social add-ons.
But the company has not completely distanced itself from the idea of providing native HR solutions.
“Anywhere that there is friction between company and customer that can be improved or resolved, we’ve been doing it,” said Salesforce’s chief scientist JP Rangaswami (pictured), when asked by Computing on a potential move into the back-office market.
Rangaswami was coy on the firm’s strategy, stating that with updates to Salesforce.com’s offerings such as Data.com, Chatter and Touch, the firm remains focused on the front end.
“In all of those things it shows our focus is in [the front office]. It is not that we discard back office – we have companies such as [social ERP firm] Kenandy and [online billing firm] Zuora. It is just that our intention is that it is OK for us to have an ecosystem and have partners,” Rangaswami said.
But many of the firm’s customers are unconvinced; they want end-to-end integration between core back-office functions and Salesforce.com’s CRM suite.
“It would make a good fit,” Threadneedle Investment’s head of distribution and corporate systems Barry Clarke told Computing.
“If they can deliver those core functions the way that they deliver the sales cloud, it would make a more than compelling reason to look at Work.com. I am positive that Marc Benioff and Salesforce is thinking 18 months to two years down the line [at something like this],” he added.