|Mashups may transform IT as usual (July 2007)|
Mashups, a new way tomake programs, are gaining ground. First seen in the consumer space,mashups are now a crucial element in software as a service, especiallyas implemented with centralized multi-tenant applications servers. Onesuch app is Salesforce.com
Bankers see new possibilities with method that mixes old code and new
Mashups are a new species of software. The likely first mashup emerged from the primordial Web 2.0 in early 2005 as HousingMaps.com, which combined Google Maps with real estate listings from Craigslist. Now thousands of mashups involve Google and Yahoo maps, most of them oriented to consumers.
An early “enterprise” application mashed Google Maps with the Chicago Police Department’s database of reported crimes.
A mashup marketplace
To make it easy to customize the basic software, Salesforce.com created AppExchange, an open marketplace for mashups that are guaranteed to work on the firm’s web-services platform.
At present, the exchange contains more than 600 applications, which subscribers can “test drive” before mashing them into their customized versions of the Salesforce CRM system. All apps on the Exchange undergo a basic review by a Salesforce professional. A Certified Application is one that has undergone a more thorough review for both technical quality and trustworthiness of the publisher.
Every application listed on the AppExchange contains a profile of its publisher: a company, independent developer or Salesforce partner. The credibility of a publisher—based on size, number of customers, and other factors—weighs into its trustworthiness. A prospective user can contact the publisher directly with any questions.
Two signature features—on demand and multitenancy—give Salesforce architecture its cachet as a second-generation software ecosystem. “On demand” means that any qualified user can access any program any time from anyplace in the world that has an internet connection. That capability rests on its web-based platform.
“Multitenancy” means that all of Salesforce’s 646,000 users from 32,300 customers share the same implementation of an application that is centrally maintained at a Salesforce data center. A qualified user can modify or customize applications without affecting other users or the underlying system architecture.
Last month, Salesforce.com and Google announced a “strategic global alliance” that will allow a Salesforce client to mash Google AdWords into the CRM system. The Google system measures how effective advertising messages are in generating responses. The Salesforce system enables users to create ads, handle leads, land customers, and analyze results.
Applications in financial services
Salesforce has more than 1,500 customers in financial services, among them New Jersey’s Commerce Bank and Chase Paymentech. In February of this year, the company announced that Merrill Lynch had standardized on Salesforce.com for 25,000 subscribers.
Commerce Bank wanted to automate its forecasting processes to improve customer tracking and analysis in retail banking. The bank insisted on maintaining a secure, open system with full visibility that wouldn’t compromise sensitive financial data. The solution included creation of custom fields and reports to track a range of specialized retail, commercial, and government banking products. No IT resources are required for ongoing maintenance and support.
Chase Paymentech wanted to improve collaboration among 120 relationship managers, to better track activities in large accounts and to integrate them with legacy systems, while shortening turnaround time and tracking leads provided by customer banks. The solution gave some 3,000 professionals comprehensive views of their accounts, along with tools for managing campaigns and customer services. The new system provides a single source of customer-facing activities plus financial and operational data from legacy systems.
Tien Tsuo, Salesforce’s vice-president for financial services, comments that until very recently, financial institutions focused on products and consumer services provided by a combination of in-house and outsourced applications.
Meantime, over the past ten years customers have zestfully embraced the internet and the web, with a dizzying array of information about sports, stocks, the economy and their own bank accounts.
The result was that a bank’s client had better access to his financial information than the bank’s customer service reps did. Now, with web-based services, powerful productivity tools are available inside the bank, Tsuo says.
Tsuo also stresses the benefits of new management tools in the critical area of compliance. He says that today, without efficient management tools, data that might later turn out to be important to compliance is sometimes kept on the backs of envelopes and scattered throughout a bank. Sales and customer service personnel often write their own little programs to help themselves keep track of compliance events. Salesforce’s centralized audit trail brings efficiency and authority to compliance, Tsuo says. Every word is tagged for possible future retrieval in any context, thereby eliminating worries about exactly what data might be requested in a compliance review.
Salesforce has announced it will introduce a series of new application suites for financial services. The first of these, the Wealth Management Edition, is scheduled to roll out in the current quarter. BJ
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