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What are the benefits of the Force.com platform for a small business?

Can you tell me a little bit about the Force.com platform? We're a small business in the beginning stages of evaluating on-demand CRM vendors and we're wondering what features and functionality the platform would have to offer us that we couldn't get from vendors like Microsoft and Oracle.

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The Force.com platform has two important attributes for a small business (there are a couple of other attributes that are important only for large businesses, but more on that another time). First, the platform provides a very rich application programming interface (API) for extending Salesforce.com's features and integrating with external applications. The API is a large set of Web services that have full "call in" and "call out" capability, with access to 95% of the tables and functions in the system. Second, the platform is the basis for a very large set of applications and plug-ins from Salesforce.com and hundreds of other vendors. Over half of these applications are free and provide extra features and eye-candy that are a big help in getting users to adopt the system – a key success factor for your business. With both of these attributes, Salesforce.com is without peer, and their advantage will last a while

This was first published in April 2009

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