Tired of failed intranets, users try ShareNow app
ShareNow ties into the Salesforce.com platform
Computerworld - It was the ultimate frustration for two different companies with the same problem: Both had copious amounts of sales and marketing information for their products available electronically -- but only through unwieldy, inefficient systems where customer access was difficult.
NMS Communications Corp., a communications technology vendor for converged and mobile networks, had a homegrown sales intranet where information was presented in a disorganized way. "People weren't really using it because we couldn't organize it easily," said Joanne Babbitt, a product marketing manager at Framingham, Mass.-based NMS.
Meanwhile, Evolution Benefits Inc., an Avon, Conn.-based employee benefits system vendor, was using an old server to allow customers to peruse its sales and marketing materials electronically, using file names that gave them little help finding what they wanted.
"Each reseller had to give us an IP address first to set them up," said Jimnahs Herron, manager of marketing and sales support at Evolution Benefits. "It was just file names on a server, with no corporate branding and a gross user interface. People couldn't get access to the materials. It was a real nightmare."
But things began to change when NMS and Evolution Benefits looked to their existing relationships with customer relationship management vendor Salesforce.com Inc. for help.
NMS, which was already using San Francisco-based Salesforce.com for lead management, wanted to create a new sales intranet portal for customers. Salesforce.com recommended using an existing add-on product from a third-party vendor in its AppExchange software portal. AppExchange offers a variety of custom-built software add-ons that extend Salesforce.com's applications without requiring code rewriting of its core platform.
The product -- ShareNow, an open-source application from ShareMethods LLC -- allows users to organize a large, shared and scalable library for sales and marketing materials, which was just what NMS and Evolution Benefits wanted to offer to customers.
Some 282 companies that buy NMS components and technology for use in products aimed at the mobile communications and convergence markets now use ShareNow to find the information they need, Babbitt said. "We went from deciding to use it to having the whole intranet up in five weeks," she said.
The biggest satisfaction so far, Babbitt said, is that customers can use ShareNow with little training. "It's just easy for them to find stuff" such as price lists, brochures and product information sheets, she said.
At Evolution Benefits, Herron was the administrator for the Salesforce.com's tools used by employees when company officials last year projected that its sales would double in 2006. That meant that Evolution's customers would require easier access to sales and marketing information for its key product, an employee benefits debit card that is tied to an employee's flexible spending account for various medical expenses.
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