Salesforce has updated its mobile services in a bid to stay competitive in an industry where mobile software is driving innovation.
The cloud-computing company’s drift toward mobility has been underway for some time, of course. At last year’s Dreamforce conference, it introduced Salesforce Touch, which made it easier to access Salesforce data on a variety of mobile devices. In February 2013, it unveiled Salesforce Service Cloud Mobile, which allows employees to manage customer relations more effectively from smartphones and tablets; other features include a portal for customers to access company information and experts, as well as a mobile chat hub.
Salesforce’s new Platform Mobile Services include a Salesforce Mobile SDK 2.0, which it bills as an open-source project that will make it easier for mobile developers to connect enterprise data “to any mobile app—native, hybrid or HTML5—on any iOS or Android device.” In addition, the SDK will give HTML5 apps access to device hardware such as camera and GPS.
Salesforce really has no choice but to push the mobile side of things. Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, which Salesforce has advocated as models for the enterprise, have turned to tablets and smartphones as the primary conduit for their advertising revenue and continuing relevancy. Apple’s now-ancient decision to open up its mobile ecosystem to third-party developers—a brilliant decision in hindsight, as it gave the company an app-portfolio lead that Android is only just beginning to overcome—is another model that Salesforce has embraced with aplomb.
But even as it pushes a vision for mobility and the cloud that’s afforded other firms such considerable success, Salesforce faces significant competition—and not only from large firms such as Oracle and Microsoft. A variety of startups in the CMS and ERP space, driven by the desire for an increasingly larger slice of enterprise revenues, are innovating in new and exciting ways. It’s Salesforce’s mission to not only out-innovate all those firms, but to encourage particularly creative and successful developers to choose its mobile platform and tools over all others—not an impossible mission, certainly, but one that comes with its own challenges.