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Salesforce.com took the next step with its social intranet product yesterday, rebranding its Company Communities product as Salesforce1 Community Cloud and adding the ability to collaborate with your customers or partners using the web-based software.

Salesforce is labelling the product as its own “cloud” now, signifying its graduated from mere product feature to a full-blown official product of its own. The product was originally announced May 2013, positioned as a social intranet solution that employees could use to access business resources, applications, and their colleagues from any device – mobile included.

In a press release about the new product, Salesforce is billing it as private LinkedIn-style network focused on your company’s business processes and products. It gives users the option to personalize their experience by following topics that are important to them, receiving updates to their profile pages flagging content and groups relevant to them, and give or receive endorsements about expertise.

Different editions of the product are available depending on what your purpose. A customer community edition is for service and marketing use case scenarios, offering modules such as: custom branding, Q&A self-service, knowledge-base articles, idea submission and endorsement.

The partner community option is intended for channel management. It includes features such as: role-based sharing for controlled data access, lead and opportunity management, reporting, and all of the features in the “customer community” edition.

The employee edition is essentially the previous version of the product, intended only for internal company use. It offers collaboration among employees using Chatter, case management, workflow, tasks and events, and more.

In an interview with TechCrunch, Nasi Jazayeri, executive vice-president of Salesforce1 Community Cloud, says Salesforce has an advantage in offering online communities because many firms are deeply tied in to its software eco-system and will be able to integrate that into this social layer. Also, Salesforce will offer open APIs for companies not using its family of products for other operations so those can still be called upon by the Community Cloud.

Salesforce will also be working with Deloitte Consulting to offer vertical-specialized communities for healthcare, retail, and public sector organizations.

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