Tired of failed intranets, users try ShareNow app

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, a Framingham, Mass.-based 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 for 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 (Internet protocol) address first to set them up," said Jimnahs Herron, manager of marketing and sales support for 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 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 the core Salesforce.com platform.