Salesforce.com rolls out Rypple, revamps website-builder tools

Site.com offers marketers an easy way to create data-driven websites

Salesforce.com is set to unveil new products for employee performance management and rapid website development on Thursday during the Cloudforce conference in San Francisco.

The first announcement concerns a product Salesforce.com gained through the acquisition of startup Rypple in December. The deal caught some extra attention, coming shortly after SAP and Oracle's moves to purchase cloud-based human-resources-software vendors SuccessFactors and Taleo, respectively.

Salesforce.com had originally said Rypple's software would be rebranded as Successforce, in a seeming jab at SAP, but those plans have changed. It will now be marketed as Salesforce Rypple. In a statement, Salesforce.com said it decided to keep the Rypple brand name due to its ample supply of "goodwill and equity."

Rypple's approach to employee performance tracking does away with the notion of periodic reviews, instead applying a social networking milieu that allows co-workers as well as managers to give feedback and recognition for jobs well done on an ongoing basis.

"Traditional performance management applications were consistently disliked by people who used them," said John Wookey, executive vice president of social applications at Salesforce.com and a former key executive overseeing SAP's cloud software strategy. "They didn't help people work better together."

Since closing the Rypple deal, Salesforce.com has created integrations between it and its CRM (customer relationship management) software as well as the Chatter social collaboration platform.

The CRM integration, which will be available in April, enables users to interact with Rypple "in the place where they're doing work every day," Wookey said. For example, a salesperson looking at accounts in the CRM system could send a thank-you to a customer service representative through Rypple, according to a statement.

Meanwhile, the Chatter integration with Rypple allows users to create special "badges" denoting special achievements and then post them into Chatter conversation feeds for others to see and comment upon, according to Salesforce.com.

Many Salesforce.com customers are already invested in core human resources systems, many of which are installed on-premises, that cover areas like payroll and benefits. Rypple is now integrated with Workday's cloud-based HR software, Wookey said. Over time, Salesforce.com will look to tie Rypple into more "HR systems of record," he added.

Rypple has been viewed as a logical first step for Salesforce.com into the world of HR applications, since performance management isn't subject to the same level of regulation as other areas.

Also Wednesday, Salesforce.com will announce Site.com, an update to its website-building tools that have also been sold under the names Siteforce and Sites.

New features include "template-driven styling" that provides for a consistent look and feel over a series of sites.

Users can also now take advantage of drag-and-drop forms that bind to data held within the vendor's underlying Force.com platform. In a demonstration, Salesforce.com showed how a user could quickly create a website that showed current job listings as well as allow visitors to submit applications.

The new site-building tools are easy enough for marketing departments and other end users to adopt without help from IT, said Mike Rosenbaum, senior vice president of AppExchange and Force.com operations.

"Our customers have told us that the frustrating part of the Web development process is waiting for the various people involved in the process to move data," he said. Now that friction is gone, yet developers still have the same range of "very powerful mechanism" to control a website's look and feel, Rosenbaum said.

Rypple is generally available now, with pricing starting at US$5 per user per month. A Phenomenal edition, which adds in an employee goals feature, costs $9 per user per month.

Site.com is also available now. It costs $1,500 per site per month, plus $125 per month per publisher user and $20 per month for each contributor user. Salesforce.com is running a pricing promotion through April that offers two publisher licenses, two contributor licenses and one site for $825 per month.

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff and others are expected to discuss the announcements further during the Cloudforce conference later Thursday.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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