Salesforce.com has announced a new online service designed to help business keep their sales contacts up to date, named Data.com.
The paid-for service contains company information on over 200 million businesses, thanks to a partnership with credit checking agency Dun & Bradstreet, plus contact details of 30 million businesses from Jigsaw, a service acquired by Salesforce.com in 2010.
The data will be accessible directly through Salesforce.com's CRM application. A demo video of the service shows that it will inform users when new information about their contacts is available, and they can update their records at the click of a button.
The service extends Salesforce.com's drive to provide not only the means of processing sales and marketing data, but also the data itself. It adds to the already staggering quantity of business-related data that Salesforce.com contains within its infrastructure and – given that it is now firmly in the business of selling data – will place even greater scrutiny on the company's privacy and data protection mechanisms.
Several sources reported in June that Salesforce.com had paid $1.5 million for the Data.com URL, making in one the most expensive of all time. It is not to be confused with Database.com, a hosted database service that Salesforce.com launched at last year's Dreamforce.
Chris Taggart, of open company data website Open Corporates, believes the service is a shrewd move by Salesforce.com but a defense play by Dun & Bradstreet.
"From Salesforce.com's perspective, it further ties clients to its platform, and they also presumably make a good margin on the data," he told Information Age after Data.com was announced. "From Dun & Bradstreet's perspective, I think it's a way of strengthening its hold on company data, which is fundamentally threatened by open data, as much of it is published by governments for a statutory purpose and therefore should be published as open data."
At the opening keynote at Dreamforce, Salesforce.com also announced a host of updates to its Chatter social networking application, which extend features such as groups, instant messaging and screen sharing to the application, allowing businesses to create an "employee social network". The company also announced HTML5 versions of its mobile apps.