Salesforce.com future includes a marketing cloud, deeper Workday links and more HTML5

CEO Benioff spilled the beans on future strategy during the company's earnings call

Salesforce.com's annual Dreamforce event is coming up in just a few weeks, but during Thursday's second-quarter earnings call, CEO Marc Benioff couldn't help but share some of the big announcements the cloud software vendor has planned for the show.

Human nature: Benioff reaffirmed the already expected news that Salesforce.com will feature Work.com, its entry into human-resources software, during Dreamforce. But he also clarified Work.com's positioning with respect to established cloud HR software vendors, namely Salesforce.com partner Workday.

Workday co-CEO Aneel Bhusri will appear at the show, and "you'll see how we are working hard to integrate with them to deliver a full HR suite to our customers," Benioff told analysts during the call. Salesforce.com will also showcase an integration between its Chatter social collaboration software and Workday.

Work.com, which is based on Salesforce.com's acquisition of Rypple, tackles just a small slice of the human-resources pie, focusing on employee performance and reviews, done up in a Facebook-style milieu.

It remains to be seen what next steps Salesforce.com takes in HR from a product perspective, but additional moves seem inevitable given the vendor's ambitious growth plans. While its core CRM (customer relationship management) software is popular, such applications have only a limited footprint within companies, whereas HR software can reach, and therefore be licensed for, every worker in an enterprise.

Or maybe not.

"I think that Salesforce.com may have taken a hard look at what's involved in building out a robust [HR] offering -- architecturally in terms of what enhancements would be needed to their platform, in terms of subject matter expertise they'd need to acquire and sustain, what it means to be taking on compliance and globalness -- as well as what would be involved in competing directly with Workday, and have decided that this isn't something that makes sense for them given their growing emphasis on being a platform play," said HR software analyst Naomi Bloom, managing partner of the consulting firm Bloom & Wallace.

HTML5 feels fine: Benioff also revealed Thursday that Salesforce.com is doubling down on HTML5 as a user interface and development standard.

"At Dreamforce, we're going to go into general availability pilot on our core salesforce automation application running in HTML5, on multiple devices," Benioff said. Salesforce.com will also deliver tools that enable customers to build services in HTML5, he added.

HTML5 will also be part of Salesforce.com's core applications, Force.com and Heroku development stacks, and Site.com website building service, he added.

Marketing is the next market: Salesforce.com's recent US$689 million acquisition of Buddy Media was a strong hint that the company intends to be a player in next-generation marketing software. At Dreamforce, showgoers will see a formalized view of the company's strategy, dubbed the Salesforce.com Marketing Cloud, according to Benioff.

Marketing is Salesforce.com's "next $1 billion product line in the making," he said during the conference call.

Expect Benioff to regale Dreamforce attendees with a vision of how Buddy Media's technology, along with Salesforce.com's Radian6 social analytics software, amounts to the killer app for marketing executives. "We were able to re-conceptualize what those two products now have created, which is really a one plus one equals three," he said. "And we'll demonstrate for that for the first time at Dreamforce."

"We believe that [chief marketing officers] are going to want their own cockpit to fly, their own fighter jets, because honestly, CMOs are going to start spending much more than CIOs in technology," Benioff added.

Platform power: Benioff also mentioned that clothier Burberry has inked a Social Enterprise License Agreement with Salesforce.com. This license model, first announced last year, gives companies the ability to "acquire all of our products in one concept: sales, service, marketing, platform all as one unit," Benioff said. At Dreamforce, Salesforce.com will reveal how many such license deals it has landed, and showgoers "will be impressed," he added.

The SELA offering speaks to Salesforce.com's growing desire to be seen as a platform vendor, far advanced from its roots in CRM.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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