Salesforce.com is rolling out a set of consulting and integration services aimed at SAP customers who want to build "social enterprises" with Salesforce.com's Force.com platform.
"Our customers have spoken loud and clear," Salesforce.com said in a blog post Thursday. "They want to transform the way they collaborate, communicate, and share information with both customers and employees. They want to shift IT from being a cost center to a catalyst for innovation and a driver of business growth."
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But these customers are challenged by SAP's back end, "which houses their most critical data but limits data accessibility," Salesforce.com claimed.
The new offerings will allow customers to integrate Force.com on top of their core SAP systems, allowing them to use data now "trapped" in "custom social and mobile cloud apps," the blog post added.
Salesforce.com will provide interested companies with a half-day evaluation of their environments at no charge, and develop a project plan that determines the proper use cases for Force.com. The vendor has also lined up a number of data-integration vendors to work on the projects, including IBM and Informatica.
An SAP executive downplayed the significance of the announcement.
"Salesforce.com offers a small sliver of what SAP can do, and customers recognize this," said Vishal Sikka, SAP executive board member, technology and innovation, in a statement.
"A true social enterprise strategy is about empowering people to work, think and interact in new ways, tackle business challenges in new ways, and connect more directly with each other and with the data that matters," he said. "This is only truly possible with deep integration of front-end applications that empower the user with core back-end business processes and data. Only SAP brings this expertise, and it is in every aspect of our product portfolio."
For some time now, Salesforce.com and its outspoken CEO Marc Benioff have been pushing the "social enterprise" vision. Companies can achieve this through a three-step process, Benioff said in a speech earlier this year. The first move is to connect with public social sites such as LinkedIn, followed up by the creation of a private social network. Lastly, enterprise applications should get a social networking injection, he said at the time.
Salesforce.com's primary social tool is Chatter, which offers real-time collaboration capabilities. It has also acquired companies such as Radian6, which has technologies customers can use to monitor the social web.