Enterprise platform technology company Salesforce.com launched its new core platform, Salesforce1, Tuesday at its Dreamforce conference in San Francisco.
Salesforce1 is the company’s attempt to build what it has positioned as a “mobile-first” one-stop shop for developers and partner software companies, marketers, salespeople, customer service reps and customers.
Salesforce.com built a new platform — with special emphasis on compatibility with mobile devices — because business software had traditionally been heavily focused on desktop use. Yet business customers today need their enterprise solutions to have more functionality, but also to be easier to use, in a mobile environment.
“In the enterprise space, it’s not about a simple app on your phone,” Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff said during his keynote. “It’s about a robust platform that is able to take data, metadata, custom applications, sharing models [and offer it for] each and every one of our customers.”
"The amount of code we had to bring to this device," Benioff said, holding up his cell phone during a press and analyst session, is "immense." When you're building mobile apps, he said, you need 10 times more APIs for all these new functions. Benioff cited consumer tech titans Facebook and Twitter's "feed-first" mobile strategies as core to its own development road map.
Mitch Kramer, SVP and analyst at Patricia Seybold Group, describes Salesforce1 as a shot at developing a true mobile platform that spans its entire products and partner ecosystem, expanding the range of what Salesforce.com is able to do.
“The range of what they do now is broader,” he said.
But this emphasis on functionality and mobility creates a new challenge for Salesforce.com: identity management.
Parker Harris, Salesforce.com’s co-founder, told press and analysts that “as we tie together all these clouds, you have to kind of unify that through single sign-on.” He said the company continues to improve its identity-management solutions, taking a page from Google’s authentication process.
“The interface we built in ‘99 looks great on PCs and laptops, but just as how we looked to Amazon in the past [to develop our desktop interface], we’re looking to [companies like] Facebook and Twitter for mobile, so [all of your] customer data can be accessed from custom apps on your phone,” Benioff said.
Salesforce Identity, an identity-management product released in October, is part of the company’s effort to improve its identity-management processes. The ultimate goal is to give brands, enterprise customers, AppExchange partners and developers single access to all Salesforce.com products through the Salesforce1 platform.
Salesforce1 provides the underlying infrastructure for Salesforce solutions, including Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, ExactTarget Marketing Cloud and the company’s apps ecosystem. “The platform and messaging expands [Saleforce.com’s] addressable market while providing customers an entry point” into digital business, said Ray Wang, chairman and principal analyst at Constellation Research.
Current Salesforce.com customers are automatically upgraded to Salesforce1, and the rollout is expected to be complete in May.