SAN FRANCISCO – Salesforce.com opened its annual Dreamforce conference with the unveiling of a rebranded platform that gives its independent service vendors more access to Salesforce data.
Described as the Salesforce1 Customer Platform by the cloud-based software firm, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is expected to detail the new platform in his keynote speech at Dreamforce on Tuesday morning. But a Web site is already live, and mobile apps are available for download from Apple’s iOS App Store and Android’s Google Play. The new apps were being demoed on the show floor at Dreamforce. Salesfoce’s Force.com Web site now redirects to Salesforce1.
The Chatter Mobile app will be replaced with Saleforce1, explains Peter Coffee, vice president of strategic research at Salesforce.com. While the front end is seeing a big update, the more significant change is in access provided by Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) available to independent software vendors (ISVs) that partner with Salesforce. Now whatever Salesforce can do with its apps, a partner can also do.
“It’s a radically faster path to market for someone with an idea that can be turned into an application and it’s a radically better way for things to be consumed by the user,” he says. “We’re putting a stake in the ground. If our app does it, there’s an API that enables it.”
As Salesforce.com has built different solutions such as its marketing cloud, the Force.com development platform, and its Work.com human resources portal, it has been siloed into the different departments it sells into, says Alan Lepofsky, principal analyst at Constellation Research. Now all those products will be accessible through one user interface.
“This is they lynch pin that pulls together all the different story lines they’ve been telling for awhile,” he says.
The change will allow partners to reach customers they may not have been able to previously, Lepofsky adds. The big appeal is being able to lean on a single-sign-on capability for all the Salesforce apps, giving developers freedom to make standalone apps that can reach into the cloud and pull down company data. It’s a move that makes Salesforce competitive with other platforms like Amazon’s EC2 cloud.
“Salesforce has spent a couple years becoming a platform,” he says. “This eliminates that ‘what division am I working with’ and you can build extensions for whatever your role happens to be.”
Kitchener, Ont.-based VidYard offers a video marketing Web-based software and has already integrated its tools into the Salesforce1 app. Thanks to the new API access to embed different types of content into the Chatter social stream, VidYard was able to develop a service to allow users to embed videos. It wasn’t that hard to do, he says.
“The only way to actually add a video via Salesforce1 to Chatter is to use VidYard,” he says. That means Salesforce1 users would have to be customers of the VidYard AppExchange application to get at the capability.
VidYard will be taking part in a keynote at Dreamforce that will showcase the new functionality with the Chatter stream. Beyond just being able to embed new content like video, the stream could also carry details fed from machine-to-machine based communications, Litt says.
“It’s Salesforce taking a big step into a massive opportunity that takes them far outside the realm of being a CRM company,” he says. “They’re kind of like a ‘communications layer of the Web’ type of company now.”
Toronto-based Influitive was demoing its mobile app for advocate marketing, Maven, at Dreamforce. CEO Mark Organ says he’ll want to evaluate the new platform to develop mobile apps now that it’s been launched.
“We’ll certainly be looking at Salesforce1 as a platform to develop faster,” he says.
The Salesforce1 app release also comes alongside a complementary administration app, SalesforceA, for managing user permissions and issuing usage policies.