With Salesforce.com's Dreamforce cloud conference kicking off next week, the reigning cloud kingpin is getting its ducks in a row to sharpen its strategy for the social enterprise, a plan that includes a new partnership and a rumored acquisition.
First, Salesforce and one-time rival Yammer on Tuesday revealed an integration plan through which the two will enable Salesforce data to be displayed in Yammer's Facebook- and Twitter-like corporate communications software, which brings employees into an internal, private enterprise social network.
Salesforce and Yammer have squared off in the past, as the two duked it out around Salesforce's release of Chatter, Salesforce's social collaboration application. The beef between Salesforce and Yammer prompted Yammer to say Salesforce "doesn't get social." Following the launch of Chatter, Yammer created a video calling Benioff and Chatter copycats. That video features footage of Benioff praising Yammer three years before Chatter was unveiled.
But Yammer Tuesday said it used Salesforce's Force.com cloud application development platform, along with Yammer's own API, to stream Salesforce data in a manner similar to a Twitter or Facebook stream. That means users can stream sales leads, deals, marketing campaigns and other information and activities that are put into Salesforce.com via Yammer alongside data from other applications.
"Salesforce.com users who have installed the app can automatically receive stories in Yammer about changes to their CRM data and collaborate in real-time with their colleagues about this information," Yammer said.
According to Yammer, the integration combines Yammers enterprise-wide social platform with Salesforce's platform, which is primarily used by employees in the sales department.
"Yammer is a superset of business activity feeds," David Sacks, Yammer founder and CEO, said in a statment. "As more enterprise applications add activity feeds, it becomes important to bring them together in a central place where it's easy to collaborate. The alternative is that every departmental app becomes its own social network, creating more silos across the enterprise. Customers are looking for a single feed to rule them all, and Yammer is in the best position to do that as the best-of-breed enterprise social network."
According to Yammer, the integration with Salesforce.com is available to Yammer customers in private beta this month and will be generally available later this year.
Next: Salesforce To Acquire Assistly?
Along with the just-announced Yammer integration, Salesforce is expected to reveal the acquisition of Assistly, which makes an application that adds social media tools to customer communications by letting users interact with customers via Twitter, Facebook, e-mail and other mediums via a single pane.
While the rumors of Salesforce acquiring San Francisco-based Assistly have not been confirmed -- Salesforce did not respond to requests for comment and Assistly CEO Alex Bard said the company doesn’t comment on rumors, Salesforce adding Assistly to its portfolio would add more oomph to its social enterprise push which will be a main focus of Dreamforce 2011.
In a statement ahead of Dreamforce, which starts August 30 at San Francisco's Moscone Center, Salesforce chairman and CEO Marc Benioff said his keynote will focus heavily on the social enterprise: a combination of social, mobile and open cloud computing through which companies build social profiles of customers, create internal social networks and listen to and engage with customers over the Internet.
"Each year at Dreamforce we set the agenda for the cloud computing industry, and this year will be no exception," Benioff said in a statement. "At Dreamforce 2011, we will showcase customers that have embraced innovation and transformed themselves into social enterprises."
Assistly would fit square into that vision as a cloud-based customer service platform that relies on social media for communications. Salesforce is also already an investor in Assistly.
Adding Assistly would also jibe with Salesforce's other recent acquisitions, including the acquisition of Heroku, a Ruby-based application development platform, and the purchase of social media monitoring player Radian6.
While Chatter offers similar functionality, an Assistly acquisition and Yammer integration won't signal death for Chatter. During Salesforce's second quarter earnings call, Benioff sang the praises of Chatter.
"I'm thrilled to tell you that more than 100,000 companies are now actively using Chatter, making it our most successful product introduction ever. We believe Chatter is the largest, most actively used social network in the world. These aren't 100,000 trials, these are 100,000 active social networks," Benioff said.