Every year around this time, thousands of Salesforce.com administrators gather at the big Dreamforce conference to attend workshops and hear the company's executives talk about what’s coming next. It’s a big deal because Salesforce.com is a leading CRM solution that drives the sales and marketing departments of thousands of companies. This $20 billion juggernaut wants to get even bigger.
How? By extending its reach beyond the sales department and into more corners of the enterprise. The plan is to create a sort of universal corporate login that will force employees to pass through their company’s Salesforce.com system before they go on to do anything else.
It’s an interesting and aggressive idea. Even users of competing modules from the likes of SAP and Oracle's PeopleSoft would be exposed to the Salesforce.com environment. It’s happening in great part because, like it or not, the concept of social networking is gradually inserting itself into the workplace. Managers want ways to tap into human connections beyond what they can do with traditional workgroup solutions. A single sign-on can certainly improve productivity, because once you’re logged in you can reach across disparate apps to interact with others who may previously have been siloed in their own little application worlds.
Salesforce.com also argues that a single sign-on is useful when people change workspaces and devices throughout the day, which does make sense. This “Identity” service is based on SAML (security assertion markup language) 2.0, a language produced by the OASIS standards group.
If Dreamforce 2012's reported attendance of 90,000 is any indicator, the Saleforce.com ecosystem is vibrant and growing. With this latest move, it may become top-of-mind for countless more enterprise workers.