Salesforce.com on Monday will launch Salesforce 1, a platform aimed at future proofing the company's applications so customer relationships can be tethered to the Internet of things and wearable computing down the road.
For the company, Salesforce 1, which will be outlined more by CEO Marc Benioff at Dreamforce on Tuesday, boils down to the following:
- The company builds a narrative about how its parts go together.
- Salesforce can build next-gen applications on its platform.
- A mobile app will tie in existing Salesforce investments.
- The company is aiming to build a more robust ecosystem around its cloud as 16 independent software vendors have launched Salesforce 1 apps and 125 more are coming soon.
In a slide, the Salesforce 1 stack goes like this:
Customers will be able to buy the parts of that stack or the whole bundle. All current customers will be running on the Saleforce 1 platform.
One of the more interesting items in the Salesforce 1 platform is its series of application programming interfaces (APIs). With these APIs, Salesforce is hoping Salesforce 1 becomes a play on the Internet of things. With 50 billion connected things projected by 2020, sensors will track everything.
Salesforce's argument: Behind every sensor-laden thing is a customer. The use cases for this customer-Internet of things connection will vary. For instance a Philips MRI machine could use sensor data to flag machinery problems. These problems could automatically be routed to a Salesforce service cloud.
"The workflow will be integrated into Salesforce. The key here is that the use cases will be totally different," said Al Falcione, head of corporate messaging at Salesforce. "Salesforce 1 is the way of connecting things in a flexible way to transform sales, service and marketing."
Ultimately, the connective tissue between the Internet of things and the real person using a device remains to be seen, but the concept is compelling.
Other key points to be outlined about Salesforce 1 include:
- There will be 10x more APIs and services;
- ISVs can build, market and sell next gen apps on the AppExchange market;
- Current Salesforce apps will run within Salesforce 1;
- There's a Salesforce 1 Admin App for CRM administrators;
- Salesforce 1 will have an iOS and Android mobile app that will aggregate all Salesforce tools including custom applications run by a company.
What does it all mean?
In a nutshell, Salesforce's moves view the Internet of things through customers, but the big issue is analytics. Salesforce can connect things, customers and enterprises, but it will need analytics.
Ray Wang, principal of Constellation Research, said:
A big hole is really the analytics. There's a big data opportunity and big data business model opportunity here to enhance customer experiences, benchmark and broker data, and to build new business models around big data and analytics.
Wang reckons that Salesforce is probably two years ahead of its time with the Internet of things meets customers theme. Salesforce will have to make those connections with devices, things and customers because if it's just about end points firms such as General Electric have those bases covered.
In the end, this Salesforce move into the Internet of things may be a precursor to an acquisition to garner more analytics functionality.
Wang said that Salesforce will likely expand its addressable market with its Internet of things push because the company will be able to pitch experiences and outcomes over products and services.
These experiences aren't hard to envision happening. The Internet of things and better customer connections makes sense on many levels. But it will take time for this connective tissue to form. After all, the Internet of things is just getting rolling in many respects. There's a customer behind everything, but the insights, infrastructure and analytics may take time to develop.