Salesforce.com and Google: First Comes Love?

Salesforce.com and Google have announced the rollout of Salesforce for Google Apps, a product that combines Google’s budding suite of productivity applications with the ubiquitous on-demand customer relationship management application. The two are already collaborators on Salesforce Group Edition featuring Google Adwords.

Salesforce for Google Apps integrates all the functionality expected in a productivity suite — e-mail, calendaring, documents, spreadsheets, presentations and instant messaging — with Salesforce.com’s CRM line of applications: sales, marketing, service, support and partner outreach. A user can, for instance, store customer e-mail in G-mail or launch a chat session with a customer from Google Talk.

The joint product leverages the Force.com Platform and Google’s open APIs (application programming interfaces) to allow developers to introduce their own innovations. The Force.com Platform as a Service offering provides a toolset to build new business applications, while and Google’s APIs enable their integration and extension in Google Apps.

Appirio andAstadia have already used the new product to develop several applications that are available in a newly created AppExchange category, Google Apps.

Titans Converging

With the tech world still on tenterhooks over how the Microsoft and Yahoo story will play out, it seems that Google and Salesforce.com could be another tale of titans converging. However, the two potential tie-ups aren’t competitive with each other, according to Yankee Group analyst Sheryl Kingstone — at least, not at the moment.

“Even if Microsoft joins up with Yahoo, it still won’t be a threat to Google-Salesforce.com and vice versa,” she told CRM Buyer. “They are still fundamentally different products and companies.”

However, if Google Apps poses more of a threat to Office several years from now, that assessment is likely to change.

CRM Morphing

For now, it is the CRM space that is more likely to be influenced by this latest mashup. “There is a trend towards consumerization of the enterprise,” Kingstone said. “Google is at the heart of that as people rely more and more on Web 2.0 products.”

Salesforce.com, did a great job with the integration of Google Apps, she noted, but even though it may be ahead of competing vendors, it did not necessarily beat out its own reputation for innovation with this release. “Really, this is the product they should have rolled out a year ago when they first started working with Google.”

Salesforce for Google Apps is currently available to all Salesforce.com customers. By Summer 2008, Salesforce for Google Apps Supported will join the product line, offering integrated telephone end user support, unified billing and provisioning, enhanced platform APIs, additional third-party applications, and advanced Google Apps functionality.

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