Another summer begins this week, which means along with barbecues, sunburns and fireworks it is time for Salesforce.com to release its annual summer upgrade. One of the most significant changes to the latest version of the Salesforce.com social business platform is a new heavy emphasis on mobile functionality.
Touching Mobile Users
In its Summer ’12 release, Salesforce.com is allowing users to take Salesforce.com to the streets, so to speak, with a new feature known as Touch. Scheduled for beta release next month, Touch is a tablet app providing Salesforce.com users access from iPad or Android tablets.
Developed in HTML5, Touch will give users access to custom apps and objects they build on the Salesforce.com platform, as well as read/write/edit capabilities for standard objects including accounts and the Salesforce Chatter private social networking tool. In addition, Salesforce.com is making its Radian6 social media listening, tracking, monitoring and engagement application available via iPhone.
Salesforce.com Responds to Mobile Web Trends
Salesforce.com’s decision to focus on mobility in its Summer ’12 release 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.com’s decision to develop Touch on the HTML5 platform).
In addition, by making Touch as user-friendly as possible, Salesforce.com 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.com 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.com version optimized for tablets is a common sense response to the needs of the marketplace.
All Salesforce.com Summer ’12 upgrades are automatically delivered via the cloud. Users will not have to install any software or hardware.