A new generation of workers that grew-up on Facebook and other social networking applications are going to expect the same sort of interface and functionality from their enterprise applications. That’s the coming shift that hosted CRM vendor Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM) sees fueling the next generation of cloud computing, which it dubs Cloud 2.0.
While for the current generation of users, e-mail is how they communicate and hierarchal menus is how they access information, that’s changing said Clarence So, senior vice-president, strategy for San Francisco-based Salesforce.com. Increasingly, instead of using the Web for search they’re using platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. Instead of communicating by e-mail, they’re using instant messaging and texts. And instead of accessing the Web from a desktop, they’re turning to smartphones and other mobile devices.
As the way people want to access information changes, So said enterprise software vendors need to change as well.
“We’ve been getting ready for a second wave of cloud computing,” said So. “We’re always trying to take the best of the consumer web and bring it to the business web.”
Cloud 1.0 is typified by web sites such as Amazon, Google and eBay, and is low-cost, fast and easy. Cloud 2.0 is more collaborative, real-time and mobile, typified by web sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. While So sees continuing use and value in the first generation of cloud sites, as companies such as Salesforce.com adopt Cloud 2.0 functionality and interfaces he said that’s where the company expects to see the bulk of its future user growth.
A Cloud 2.0 version of Salesforce.com will have less tabs and more feeds. “The feed will become the central mechanism to interact,” said So.
Salesforce.com has already rolled out its first Cloud 2.0 tool with Chatter, which launched recently. Dubbed a “real-time collaboration cloud,” it’s a Facebook-like feed interface that lets a user follow objects, which could be fellow employees, a customer record, a project, a document, anything that’s an object within Salesforce.com. They can interact with and receive updates on the objects they follow in their Chatter feed.
Mobility is also an area where Salesforce.com is developing further functionality, and So said a touch/gesture interface version will be launched later this year. They’re also developing a custom application for the Apple iPad.
While he’s not using Chatter yet, Jason Fung, CIO of Probel, a Whitby, Ont.-based safety systems engineering company, said it will be a useful tool to see what’s going on across the company, and have early warning into developing issues, either positive or negative.
“You’re going to see the buzz,” said Fung.
He added as for mobility, with the increasing rich functionality of today’s rich smartphone clients, he’s able to use the full Salesforce.com platform through a mobile browser rather than using a mobile app version.
Follow Jeff Jedras on Twitter: @JeffJedrasCDN.