On the day Apple tried to persuade its followers to invest in a $10,000 18k Apple Watch, Salesforce turned the conversation back to reality.
The cloud-based customer relationship management provider launched an initiative to reach its customers through their Apple Watches — even the entry level $399 model. Salesforce is capitalizing on a version of its Analytics Cloud service that it claims to have scaled down only in display size.
“Professionals are going to use this in the service of customer engagement,” Adam Seligman, Salesforce’s vice president for developer relations, told CMSWire. “They’re going to use that small screen right on their wrists to get amazing insights about their customers — live analytics against all of their customer information. It’s mind-boggling, right on your wrist."
Small is the New Big
It’s a very similar argument to the one Salesforce made when it released the Analytics Cloud last October, along with the Wave cloud-based platform that manages the data on which analytics reports may be based.
At that time, the company made it clear mobile platforms would serve as the premier form factors, both for services run from its Analytics Cloud and for apps constructed on its vastly revised Salesforce1 development platform.
It had already made the first versions of its Salesforce Wear system developers kit available to developers four months earlier. So the company had already been gearing up to produce high-bandwidth charts for lower-resolution screens.
“We’ve seen use cases like approvals and notifications going right to the watch,” remarked Seligman. “You can do a quick approval at a glance. As opposed to going into — heaven forbid — some back-end system, you’re doing it on your phone, or even better, doing it on your watch.”
This may be the sticking point. Even with a nine-month head start, exactly how analytics or sales management functionality will be made better on a wristwatch, is not something Salesforce is ready to articulate just yet.
A post yesterday afternoon to Salesforce’s corporate blog describes the Apple Watch-based user experience with the lead-off word “Imagine,” and trails off by suggesting one handy feature may be using the watch’s Handoff connectivity to pass a job over to an iPhone.
By contrast, last October’s relaunch of the Salesforce1 platform left almost nothing to anyone’s imagination.
The step-by-step strategy of how both professionals and their customers would use apps on that platform were literally mapped on flowcharts, which Salesforce calls journeys.
It even created a superhero mascot, “Lightning Man,” to represent how the various components could be assembled into those journeys.
This time around, Seligman acknowledged, a wide variety of those components will be laid out on the table for Apple Watch developers to figure out.
Tapping the Cloud
Salesforce1 alerts and notifications will be connected to Apple Watch right away, he said.
This will let the watch beep or tap (with the pads on its underside) its wearer in response to events programmed into the platform — push notifications that literally do push. These notifications may include events taking place on the user’s company Chatter stream, such as meeting events, customer contacts, and successful lead generations.
“Salesforce Analytics is insanely easy to use for every employee,” argued Seligman. “So if we’re going to have the best for that, the Watch seems like a natural thing to go to. Yea, long-term, what beautiful user interfaces and custom apps are going to get built.
"But keep in mind, we’re doing things with GE Energy, with Sysco Foods, with banks, with USAA — we’re a platform being used for every kind of app out there. So I expect our platform is going to be used for every kind of watch app out there.”
For Apple’s newest form factor to evolve beyond a mere expensive fashion accessory, it needs to do something functional. So if you see someone jumping out in front of Apple CEO Tim Cook to take a shot at that opportunity, it’s probably Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.
Salesforce will make Analytics Cloud for the Apple Watch available free to all subscribers beginning in April.
The watch notifications service for Salesforce1 is due in Q3, while the Salesforce Wear developer pack is available now. Interested developers can sign up for a webinar on how to use the SDK. The webinar will be held at 1 pm EST on March 24.