Next week sees me and 25000 of my closest friends (!) descend on San Francisco for DreamForce, the annual salesforce.com conference. It looks set to be an amazing event and, judging by the number of invitations to parties and briefings that are descending on my email box, it looks set to be a week of significant product announcements.

Getting in before the rush is a smart move and Zuora (more about them here). Zuora recently announced a series C funding round of $20 million and the fact that over $1 billion worth of annualized revenue was billed through their platform in Q1. The funding was promised to increase both the sales and engineering teams and Zuora is showing proof of that in it’s early DreamForce announcement today of the release of Z-Force 4.0, the latest version of its subscription and billing functionality for the force.com platform.

Z-Force has been around for a couple of years now, but has traditionally been a way for salesforce customers to gain reporting insight into billing and subscription by way of a synchronization process. This latest version sees a full extension to subscription commerce for force.com

So, what’s new in this version?

  • Pricing: the ability to have products, pricing, rate plans and bundles in the SalesCloud2 application, and rollout pricing changes to the SalesCloud2 in real-time
  • Quotes: the ability to create quotes for initial orders, quotes for add-on orders, and quotes for change orders right from within the SalesCloud2 application
  • Order Builder: the ability to use the Salesforce Customer Portal, Partner Portal and Sites to price and package, take orders, and automate billing and payments with self-service capabilities
  • Renewals: the ability to initiate renewals for existing customers from within the SalesCloud2 to manage the recurring customer lifecycle
  • Checkout for the AppExchange: built specifically for AppExchange ISVs and Force.com developers, the ability to enable 1-click “Buy Now” capabilities right from within any app

It’s a really logical step and opens up some interesting (and ultimately valuable) opportunities to give sales people visibility over the customer lifecycle. Zuora CEO Tien Tzuo has long waxed poetic about the opportunities for subscription billing in general and Zuora in particular – this latest version of Z-Force really closes the loop for companies that both sell a subscription product and use salesforce.

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Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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