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Salesforce Rolls Out Next-Gen Community Cloud

CRM behemoth Salesforce is rolling out the next iteration of Community Cloud, technology that lets companies combine business data and processes with its customer relationship management (CRM) platform to create personalized, mobile destinations.

Specifically, Salesforce is adding Targeted Recommendations, Lightning Community Builder and Templates and Salesforce Files Connect for Google Drive. The goal is to help companies connect with stakeholders in new ways.

Community Cloud was already making an impact before the new features. Digital communities result in 48 percent faster case resolution, 48 percent increase in employee engagement, 45 percent increase in customer satisfaction and 43 percent increase in partner sales, according to the firm’s research.

“Communities have become the connective tissue linking customers, partners and employees to companies and each other,” said Nasi Jazayeri, executive vice president of Community Cloud at Salesforce. He said he expects the new iteration to strengthen those bonds.

Four New Tools

Targeted Recommendations tap algorithms to analyze both structured and unstructured data and deliver relevant content including posts, resources, files and groups to each member. By understanding the quality of users’ contributions, the new feature identifies experts, then surfaces them as subject-matter experts and recommends them to other community members.

Community managers can also suggest content with specific information or post announcements into feeds and target them to specific groups, member types or individuals. A community manager, for example, can send a new employee a personalized note to connect her with an onboarding training course, or target a consumer within a fitness-oriented community with a coupon for running shoes.

Lightning Community Builder and Templates let business users deploy customized, branded and mobile-optimized communities and develop custom apps. As an example, a nonprofit could build an app to organize volunteer events and embed it into the homepage of its community.

Finally, Salesforce Files Connect for Google Drive lets community members collaborate and share any file created or stored in Google Drive. A marketing team could share a Google file into a campaign planning group.

A Powerful Cement

We caught up with Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, to get his thoughts on Salesforce’s new services. He said the services aim to deliver substantially improved productivity and development processes. But the larger goal seems to be the creation of what might be called the “socially-enabled” enterprise, he added. That is, organizations where access to information, collaboration processes and customer engagements is essentially seamless and beneficial.

“While expansive, Salesforce isn’t the only business vendor heading in this direction. Companies with notable productivity application assets, like Microsoft, are promising similar benefits,” King said. “Plus, a wide range of vendors are developing and delivering enhanced tools and resources for developers.” However, Salesforce’s leadership position in various markets means it is a force to be reckoned with, he added.

“If these new solutions deliver what Salesforce intends, they could also act as a powerful cement between the company and its customers,” King said. “If an organization buys into an ecosystem of this kind, it will likely find leaving difficult. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — ‘stickiness’ is a common trait in many IT solutions and services. But it’s something to remember.“

When Can You Get It

All the new innovations of the next-generation Community Cloud are included in existing Community Cloud licenses as the products become generally available. Targeted Recommendations are generally available now, with more features coming online in the second half of 2015.

Lightning Community Builder and Templates are generally available now. Additional Community Builder functionality, including drag and drop components and integration of custom Lightning components, are expected to be generally available in the second half of 2015.

Salesforce Files Connect for Google Drive is generally available now for Chatter and Employee Community licenses. Salesforce Files Connect for Google Drive is expected to be generally available for Partner Community and Customer Community licenses in the second half of 2015.

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