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SAN FRANCISCO -- Salesforce.com delivered a new version of its collaborative message today during a keynote address given to AppExchange partners at the Dreamforce 2012 conference. It's not just about cloud apps anymore, it's about connected apps.

Several customers spoke and dozens of stats were given, but the overall message was that Salesforce wants to see more applications working together. Salesforce Senior Vice President Mike Rosenbaum made it clear that collaboration and interoperability are crucial characteristics for any enterprise apps that are going to be made available through the AppExchange.

"We've got to think about how our apps can work together," Rosenbaum said. He added that accomplishing interoperability was easy in the early days of the AppExchange, but now that the applications posted focus on more than just customer relationship management (CRM) and sales, new challenges have arisen. "It's become apparent that we as a group, a community of partners, need to work together to make sure our applications can effectively work together."

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Salesforce emphasized the message by pointing to one of its customers, Pandora, an Internet radio company that runs only cloud-based business applications. Richard Rothschild, Pandora's vice president of enterprise information systems, said the challenge for enterprises like his is discovering how to link applications in a meaningful way.

"One of the issues in being [all] cloud is a lot of siloed, different applications," he said. "It's like dealing with Europe rather than the U.S.; everyone speaks different languages and has different customs."

Pandora deploys a number of AppExchange applications. The company uses Data.com and Cloud9 for sales intelligence and analytics, Vana for human capital management, and FinancialForce.com for accounting, among others. Rothschild said the next step for his company is finding a way to make connections between those apps.

Rothschild believes he could slash another third out of his IT budget and increase the speed of development if siloed apps could be turned into connected ones.

"We've got to figure out a way to connect [applications] in a way that makes sense and makes the business run better," Rothschild said.

In-demand applications and the growing AppExchange

One of the most tweeted slides from the keynote was a listing of the top five most requested CRM and back-end applications.

On the CRM side, Salesforce said that most of the respondents to its internal surveys have indicated a healthy desire for more customer satisfaction survey applications. Mobile sales management was a close second, followed by lead management, email response management and customer chat.

Big data management was the most requested back-end application, followed by invoice management, product lifecycle management, supply chain management and learning management.

Salesforce also reported a 27% growth in the number of apps on the AppExchange over the past year, and a 33% increase in actual installs.

Adam Riglian is a news writer with SearchCloudApplications.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamRiglian.

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