As part of its Dreamforce conference this week in San Francisco, Salesforce is revamping its whole mobile strategy—not an unusual move for a company that’s always done its best to align with the tech industry’s latest trends.
As part of that revamp, Salesforce is rolling out Salesforce1, which seeks to unify many of the company’s mobile and social initiatives on a single platform. Salesforce1 also comes with a large bag of APIs for building cloud and mobile services. In addition to connecting apps, sales dashboards and customer data, Salesforce1 features a robust administrator dashboard that gives full control over enterprise functions such as resetting passwords and managing user permissions.
“Salesforce1 will fundamentally replace all of our mobile applications,” Salesforce executive vice president Kendall Collins told Bloomberg in a recent interview. “It effectively is now our flagship mobile app.”
Revamping a portfolio, of course, is one of those regular events in a tech company’s life. Microsoft, for example, recently decided to link its mobile efforts (Windows Phone 8) and latest flagship operating system (Windows 8) on a common app platform, even as it sought to more closely harmonize its entire software line on the tile-focused “Modern” design interface. Google kills and consolidates product lines with some regularity. Unsaddled by extensive hardware lineups that can take years to radically alter, software-centric firms are able to shift direction in the space of a few quarters—and frequently must, given the speed at which the industry as a whole is evolving.
By enriching Salesforce1 with tons of APIs, and baking in lots of features for building and selling the resulting apps, Salesforce is clearly reacting to the latest trend that puts third-party developers at the forefront. It faces a lot of competition. Just last week, for instance, IBM announced that it would give developers the opportunity to develop apps that leverage the company’s Watson supercomputing platform. Other enterprise-minded firms have realized that, by giving developers the tools they need to craft next-generation apps for every aspect of business, they can profit immensely while appearing at the cutting edge of mobility.
For Salesforce, the benefits don’t end there: a unified platform with a heavy emphasis on customization and app development gives the company as broad a reach as possible in the increasingly fragmented mobile arena, without needing to expend massive resources to develop in-house apps for iOS and Android (as well as whatever platforms might arise in the future). In its latest evolution, Salesforce is trying to become suppler; future sales will bear out whether this plan succeeds.