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For Salesforce.com, Summer '04 is here

At its first financial analyst day since going public, the hosted CRM provider upgraded its service and touted its penetration into the Fortune 500.

NEW YORK -- Salesforce.com turned its eye toward bigger businesses on Wednesday, announcing two multithousand-seat deals with Fortune 500 customers and rolling out new features for its Enterprise Edition.

The San Francisco-based company detailed its Summer '04 upgrade and said that Automatic Data Processing (ADP) Inc. and Corporate Express Inc. had completed global rollouts of its service. Salesforce.com made the announcements at a financial analyst event at the New York Stock Exchange, its first since it went public last month under the stock symbol "CRM."

Stock falls on guidance

Salesforce.com said it would fall short of analyst earnings expectations, which caused its stock to drop 27% on Wednesday. The company plans to earn 3 cents per share on revenue of $165 million in the fiscal year ending in January 2005. Salesforce.com opened Thursday at $11.70 per share.

Among additions in Summer '04 is a new customization tool entitled "My salesforce.com," which lets businesses tailor their homepage for different user groups. With a new Web tab feature, administrators can also embed critical Web content such as expense reports or maps.

The new customizable feel was a hit with Ed Schlesinger, of the Barkoe Group LLC in East Brunswick, N.J. Schlesinger said his company has been using Summer '04 for more than a week and he checked his new dashboards Wednesday morning before attending the event. The veteran of several Salesforce.com upgrades said this latest release went smoothly.

"With three releases a year, it's natural, you get used to it," Schlesinger said. "This one is faster. The last release had some issues with performance."

New Microsoft Outlook and Office integration in Summer '04 allows users to run Salesforce.com from within Outlook or access CRM features from within Office applications.

Data integration remains a difficulty for many organizations, but Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff told reporters that his company would not be answering this need by expanding into the ERP arena. Instead, Benioff said Salesforce.com would tap its sforce integration tool. The company had previously vowed to add ERP features.

"We live in a highly heterogeneous, highly distributed environment with data," Benioff said. "That's something that's been true for a long time and will only continue to become more so."

ADP, a payroll service company in Roseland, N.J., and Corporate Express, an office and computer products supplier in Broomfield, Colo., have begun deploying what are expected to be multithousand user rollouts. Both companies began by evaluating Salesforce.com in a corporate division or particular geography and then expanded.

Salesforce.com's Enterprise Edition 2.0 includes a new multitenant architecture allowing real-time customized pages with organization and user preferences stored in a cache server. A new forecasting tool will be available in September 2004, including product-level, revenue stream and rolling forecasting. Enterprise 2.0 includes dynamic translation to support multiple languages and, as with Summer '04, it tacks on enhanced integration and customization features.

Customers at the event praised the product, though Phil DeCabia, senior vice president of sales and service for Lightpath, a division of Bethpage, N.Y.-based Cablevision Corp., said he would like more visibility into how individual salespeople are doing against their quota. Lightpath, an early user of Salesforce.com, has expanded to roughly 300 users in the past three years. All sales information now runs through Salesforce.com, DeCabia said.

"We have a saying, 'It's either in salesforce.com or it doesn't exist,'" he said. "In order to get their commission, [salespeople] have to enter [data] into Salesforce."

Salesforce.com said it now has 10,700 customers and 161,000 subscribers to its CRM service. FOR MORE INFORMATION:

See how Forrester Research rates the hosted SFA services

Read about some pitfalls of hosted SFA

Dig Deeper on Salesforce CRM

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