SAN FRANCISCO—Salesforce has spent its Dreamforce conference here touting its new Work.com platform as a revolution of sorts, merging the suppleness and connectivity of social networking with the age-old (or at least decades-old) habits of performance management.
Work.com is built atop the assets Salesforce acquired along with Rypple late last year. At the time, Salesforce played its ultimate intentions close to the proverbial vest; but Rypple’s existing relationships with companies like Salesforce, as well as its emphasis on social networking-style features, made the synergies pretty obvious.
With Work.com, network members can view coworkers’ goals, streamline new employee onboarding, and track companywide efforts such as marketing campaigns. In a nod to the rewards and other activity incentives baked into more consumer-oriented social networks, Work.com also includes special “custom badges” as reward for individual accomplishments, which can be posted to those employees’ social profiles; benevolent employers can also deal out Amazon.com gift cards and redeemable points in exchange for meeting or exceeding certain goals.
As with other Salesforce products, Work.com touts a vision of business life that’s more user-friendly and faster-paced thanks to a heavy injection of social-networking DNA. Whether that vision succeeds with executives and human-resource workers, for whom not every aspect of the business is collaborative (indeed, many would like feedback on individual workers to remain hidden, for various reasons), it’s going to be a key pillar in Salesforce’s strategy in the near term.
Salesforce will also face significant competition in that area. IBM, SAP and Oracle all have designs on infusing human resources and recruitment with cutting-edge technology. Oracle acquired Taleo’s talent management and recruitment software and integrated it into its Oracle Cloud; SAP has its SuccessFactors performance-management suite; and IBM has its own take on it.
Nor is Work.com the only Salesforce release facing some significant industry rivalry: its new Marketing Cloud, which allows companies to manage presence across social channels and incorporates elements from the company’s acquisitions of Radian6 and Buddy Media, will need to face down Oracle’s increased interest in social media management. Back in July, Oracle entered into an agreement to acquire Involver, a purveyor of cloud-based social marketing, soon on the heels of buying Vitrue (a cloud-based social marketing and engagement platform) and Collective Intellect (a maker of cloud-based social intelligence software).
Even as Salesforce tries a leap forward, it finds itself locked in the same longtime competition with some of the biggest vendors in the IT space.