Cloud CRM provider Salesforce.com has purchased SaaS social media help desk developer Assistly for $50 million in cash, building on the Salesforce Service Cloud concept. And I have to say it, just once, at the top of this story: TalkinCloud totally called it.

As Salesforce's press release explains, "Assistly lets small companies and emerging businesses set up and deliver social customer service in minutes, with zero-touch onboarding." In other words, organizations leveraging Assistly get a single dashboard to manage all customer interactions, whether they're by phone, web chat, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or the like. Salesforce boasts Assistly's workflow integrations, rules and filters "ensure no request goes unresolved."

Intriguingly, Salesforce said it plans on continuing Assistly's unique pricing scheme, which allows small and growing businesses to pay by the hour to meet peak workloads -- or simply pay $49 per full agent for unlimited usage.

In his blog entry announcing the acquisition, Assistly CEO and Co-Founder Alex Bard said Salesforce.com is mostly focused on fast-tracking the product's maturity (as opposed to scrapping the company for code and talent):
The product will evolve, and you will see us remain the super-responsive and innovative force you’ve come to know. We will continue to add features and capabilities for your benefit, but at a faster rate using the resources of salesforce.com. Salesforce.com is committed to Assistly’s success and your success. I assure you that Assistly will maintain its focus on helping companies like yours deliver awesomely responsive customer service.

As part of the Salesforce Service Cloud, Assistly still will be offered a la carte, but Salesforce promises an easy path to other in-house offerings including Radian6 and Salesforce CRM itself. It's all part of Salesforce's "social enterprise" hype -- ahem, strategy. That's why TalkinCloud was originally expecting the Assistly acquisition to be announced at Dreamforce '11.

We'll continue to watch Salesforce.com as it builds out its social play, so stay tuned.