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Expanding cloud company to add 'Communities' service

The ever-expanding CRM Cloud titan is adding another offering to its extensive product portfolio: Salesforce Communities.

With Communites, customers create their own private social networks comprised of their customers, partners, employees, and external contacts. Social networking and collaboration are driving forces behind Communities and as with many other social networking platforms, Communities allows for profiles, real-time feeds, trending topics, recommendations, and influence measurement.

These social-networking features are combined with the business intelligence features and processes of According to representatives at, such a combination not only lets Salesforce Communities' users quickly connect with customers, partners, and other communities; it meets the challenge of the "social enterprise transformation." That is, the ongoing incorporation of social-networking communications not only in our personal lives, but in our work lives.

Communities can be custom branded so that companies can keep their Web presence consistent between their own Internet and intranet sites and their communities. Enterprises already using Communities include GE Capital.

"Today, more than ever, companies need to put customers at the heart of their business," said Doug Bewsher, senior vice president of Salesforce Chatter. "With Salesforce Communities, enterprises will be able to break the boundaries of their companies, connecting them much closer to their customers and partners."

Social networking for the enterprise is also an area of focus for other big-name technology vendors. In 2010, Cisco Systems introduced Quad, its enterprise social-networking platform. Quad recently underwent a re-branding and is now Cisco WebEx Social. Microsoft continues to invest in unified communications and enterprise collaboration with its Lync offering.

Salesforce Communities will launch as a limited pilot later this year and be generally available the second half of 2013. Pricing for Salesforce Communities will be announced at general availability.