Salesforce.com is expanding its Communities product

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Salesforce.com is “doubling down on communities” in the age of connected everything. The company announced today it is expanding its Communities product into a full-fledged Community Cloud. The vision: responsive online communities of any collection of people or products based around a given interest and connected to business processes. “Your toothbrush [will be connected] to the dentist,” VP of business operations Lisa Hammit said in an interview with VentureBeat. But “not until your dentist, you and your toothbrush are part of a collaborative community [designed] to promote oral health” will it all “come to life.”

Salesforce.com has renamed and updated its Communities product, which lets companies build social websites where employees, partners and customers can mingle and collaborate. Now called Salesforce1 Community Cloud, the service has been updated in several areas including the profile and topic pages, and its mobile access. “We believe communities are the battleground for customer engagement,” said Lisa Hammitt, vice president of business operations for Salesforce1 Community Cloud, which has been available for about a year under its previous name. Companies using the product include British Sky Broadcasting, Cornell University and GE Capital. About 2,000 communities are running sites on it, prompting Salesforce to “double down” on its efforts. IDC expects the enterprise social networking (ESN) market to grow from $1.24 billion [b] worldwide last year to $3.5 billion [b] by 2018, an annual growth rate of 23.1 percent. IDC’s definition includes software for both internal and external collaboration. Competition among ESN vendors is tough. Other big players include IBM, Microsoft, Jive Software, Tibco, Zimbra and SAP. As the name suggests, ESNs let businesses build social networks where employees, customers and partners can post status updates, view activity streams, share documents and collaborate in other ways.

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