Salesforce.com is launching a new cloud service named Salesforce Communities that pulls together business data and social portals.
It is planning to make the service generally available during the summer following its use by a selected group of businesses, with the company making a bold claim that it is ending the era of legacy portal software.
Michael Peachy, Senior Director of Solutions Marketing for Salesforce.com, told TRPro that it has developed the service to save companies from a "false choice" between the data on a legacy portal and being able to connect to a social community.
"You can find a lot of good data on a legacy portal but if you have a question you need to go to a different channel to ask a community of experts," he said. "At the other end we have social point solutions on which you can get really good advice from communities, but where you can't get the business data to carry out a transaction."
He said that Salesforce Communities brings the two together sitting on the Salesforce platform, which can be used on mobile devices, and can support sales, service or marketing operations.
Users can create communities around different functions or markets while retaining direct access to business data.
The service can incorporate data that a business already holds on the Salesforce.com platform, and integrate with other business applications, such as sales records and enterprise resource planning, within the interface.
"It's appropriate for small businesses as it allows them to build a community around the service they provide," Peachy said.
The service is priced at $500 (£320) per month for each community created. While this may seem steep for smaller firms, Peachy claimed that it can create extra value and savings.
"One of the things about a community is that it helps to drive down several costs in sales, service and marketing," he said.
The move follows the Salesforce.com's adding of social intelligence tools to its Chatter enterprise social network, and connection of social listening and customer relationship management on Salesforce Social.com.