Salesforce is reaching out to the rapidly growing mobile workforce with the Salesforce Touch platform. The enterprise social technology provider officially introduced Touch at today’s Dreamforce 2012 conference in San Francisco.

Touching the Need for Easy Mobile Deployment, Development

Touch is built on HTML5 technology, with the aim of making it easy to add Salesforce to any mobile device or tablet. In addition, Touch enables users to write mobile apps once for deployment on any device and the Touch platform supports native, HTML5 and hybrid app development. 

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Other notable features of Touch include social and mobile-compliant APIs that have geolocation built in and are designed to connect mobile apps to enterprise data, content and social feeds. Salesforce says that Touch’s enterprise mobile container allows users to develop mobile apps with enterprise-grade features such as secure offline storage and OAuth 2.0 authentication. Using JavaScript code, Touch app developers can gain access to native device features such as cameras and corporate data.

How Touch Fits into the Salesforce ‘Big Picture’

InformationWeek identifies Salesforce Touch as part of a larger “big-picture trend across the many announcements ... to simultaneously extend and simplify a sprawling cloud portfolio that now includes six distinct product lines built on components from multiple acquisitions.” An InformationWeek article cited HTML5-based Touch interfaces that will “gradually offer a single approach to mobile application delivery” as fitting in with Salesforce’s overarching “unification and simplification” strategy it is pursuing instead of a “consolidation” strategy. 

Salesforce Responds to Mobile Web Trends

Salesforce’s decision to focus on mobility with the official Touch release (a beta release was made available during the summer) reflects a trend identified by CMSWire as the “explosion” of mobile Web use. The entire user experience must be managed and optimized across all online channels. And because mobile is a platform shift, it requires not only a change of content strategy, but also a change of certain technology infrastructure as well (as evidenced by Salesforce’s decision to develop Touch on the HTML5 platform).

In addition, by making Touch as user-friendly as possible, Salesforce is also responding to a trend identified in a CMSWire article by James Dellow as the “consumerization” of enterprise mobile solutions. The ubiquitous use of consumer mobile apps has led to a general understanding of the difference between a good app and a bad one. As those same consumers represent the employee base for companies launching enterprise mobile apps, there is now an expectation that business apps have the same responsiveness, functionality and ease of use as consumer apps do.

As Dellow pointed out, a mobile app may in theory offer greater productivity and effectiveness, but this only happens if people actually choose to use this option and use it well. Dellow also advised enterprise mobile app developers to let specific business needs drive the direction of their apps.

Salesforce appears to be taking both pieces of advice with Touch. It offers a touchscreen experience familiar to consumer app users and allows users to both have access to standard objects and to design and have access to custom apps and objects. In addition, considering the inherent mobility of sales professionals, the release of a Salesforce version optimized for tablets is a common sense response to the needs of the marketplace.

Salesforce Touch is generally available today on iPad, and is currently scheduled to be available on iPhone and Android the first half of 2013. It’s included in all Salesforce editions.