Salesforce.com Offers Community Platform to Dell, Other Clients

Almost a year ago Salesforce.com started offering its customers access to an online community called IdeaExchange which allows them to submit requests or ideas on what the company should work on next. Later, the firm shared the platform with computer manufacturer Dell, and now Salesforce.com is making it available for all its customers to use on their own sites.

Called Salesforce Ideas, the system allows companies to create an online community for their users to interact with one another, or with the company itself. The on demand service is powered by the Force.com platform, according to Kraig Swensrud, senior director of product marketing at Salesforce.com.

Swensrud compared Salesforce Ideas to the news sharing site Digg for its ability to allow users to post and share insights and thoughts on topics, but stressed the social news site itself was not involved in Salesforce Ideas.

“It’s taking Digg and making a Digg for your own products,” he said. “It’s providing a new way for marketers and at any company to interact with their customers.”

Dell used the platform to create Dell IdeaStorm, launched last February to interact with customers and solicit ideas about products. According to Swensrud, the computer manufacturer was soon inundated with suggestions to return to offering the Linux operating system with its machines. As a result, Dell decided to offer machines pre-installed with Ubuntu Linux on some consumer desktop and notebook machines.

“The number of votes was in the hundreds of thousands,” Swensrud said of the Dell IdeaStorm feedback.

Salesforce Ideas is currently in beta testing and is slated for general availability by 2008.

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