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Salesforce releases Summer '06

Company releases on-demand CRM software and Connector for SAP R/3 in bid to better compete against SAP.

In a one-two punch, issued a new release of its on-demand customer relationship management software and launched its Connector for SAP R/3.

Summer '06 and Connector for SAP R/3 mark the company's latest efforts to attract large corporate customers. The moves also step up its competitive battle against industry titan SAP.

"We're aggressively targeting SAP's installed base," said Kendall Collins, vice president of product marketing for Salesforce.

Connector for SAP R/3 is designed to allow users to synchronize their Salesforce software with back-office SAP R/3 applications, providing a single view of a customer, Collins said.

"The SAP connector makes a lot of sense for Salesforce, given their increasing focus on the enterprise market," said Liz Herbert, an analyst at Forrester Research. "One of the questions I frequently hear from Salesforce customers is how to integrate with SAP. A lot of them do custom integrations, and that takes a lot of time. The connectors will speed that process."

Connector for SAP R/3 is free to Salesforce Unlimited Edition customers, but $12,000 a year for Enterprise Edition users.

Saleforce's Summer '06 CRM software aims to improve the customer information gleaned from sales, marketing, service, support and mobile devices through a variety of new and enhanced technologies, the company said.

New to Summer '06 are AppExchange Mobile updates. The technology is designed to let sales representatives via mobile devices view, add, edit and delete items they are responsible for selling.

Salesforce also has added advanced call scripting, a technology designed to help companies run through a list of questions to ask potential customers and score their responses based on the likelihood they would buy the product or service in question. Also included in Summer '06 is Salesforce Partner Edition, which lets companies share the benefits of on-demand CRM with their partners via a customized portal.