Salesforce.com rolling out big CRM upgrade following Salesforce1 launch

Other key features include a big increase in file storage per user license

Salesforce.com has spent plenty of time lately discussing its new Salesforce1 development platform, but most of its customers remain focused on the vendor's core CRM (customer relationship management) application, which has just received a significant new upgrade.

The Spring '14 edition of Salesforce.com CRM is now in preview, with a general release set for the coming weeks.

Major new features include a new mobile experience, with users being shifted to the new Salesforce1 mobile application, according to a set of release notes issued this week.

The previously released Salesforce Touch is no longer available for download or use as an in-browser application, but Salesforce1 retains features such as support for Salesforce Communities while adding a refreshed user experience, the notes state.

Chatter Mobile for Android and iOS has also been "upgraded" to Salesforce1. However, the BlackBerry version won't get the same treatment, according to the notes. It is now a "connected app" that ties into Salesforce.com through an API (application programming interface).

Another notable addition in Spring '14 is the general availability of a sales order object in the application, which users have been requesting for some time, said independent analyst China Martens, who tracks the business applications market. This could signal a move deeper into order management by Salesforce.com, she added.

Salesforce.com is also bumping up the available file storage per user license from 612MB to 2GB. File storage refers to information in attachments, Chatter and other areas, while data storage covers accounts, contracts, contacts, emails and more.

Some customers should welcome the file storage increase, but "more would like to see an overall increase on storage limits, particularly on the data storage side and more notifications in advance of limits being reached," Martens said. Perhaps this will be granted following an infrastructure overhaul by Salesforce.com, she added.

Spring '14 also brings a number of changes to forecasting.

Development work has ceased on customizable forecasting, although the existing functionality will continue to be supported, Salesforce.com said. Forecasting 1.0 will also be retired later this year, according to the notes.

Customers should consider migrating from customizable forecasting to the collaborative forecasting feature, Salesforce.com said. The products share many similarities, but also have key differences. For example, collaborative forecasting includes live chat, but omits the ability to use territory management, which allows users to structure Salesforce.com data and account access in a way that reflects the makeup of their sales territories.

The Spring '14 release notes run more than 300 pages and include a myriad of other details on improvements to the Force.com development tools, analytics, Data.com and other areas. Salesforce.com administrators and developers may be served well to look closely for bits of information that will affect their operations, either now or in the future.

For one thing, there are a number of differences between Salesforce1 mobile app and the full Salesforce.com site, Martens noted. "[It] seems like there's a fair amount here for users to digest," she said. "I'm curious if this situation persists or it's mostly to do with the initial release of Salesforce1."

Overall, Salesforce.com's strategy now "is to foster an attitude of developing apps first for the small screen and then extrapolating out to the larger devices," analyst Denis Pombriant of Beagle Research said in a blog post on Thursday. "This idea, while not new, supports the notion of mobility and the move from business conducted at the desktop to doing business anywhere, anytime. Salesforce has the luxury of pursuing this approach because it took care of things like social orientation and marketing earlier so that it is now free to go after this next phase of computing."

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

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