example of IoT, smart terrarium that self regulates temperature and climate
By bringing IoT data into the CRM, Salesforce aims to provide marketers with opportunities to proactively sell, service or engage customers PHOTO: pixabay

Salesforce has launched a new product, Salesforce IoT Explorer Edition. The platform is designed for companies to harness and then integrate internet of thing (IoT) operations data with their customer relationship management (CRM) back end.

“We’re introducing this to make it easy for customers to bring the power of CRM to any connected device, any connected product,” Woodson Martin, EVP and GM of Salesforce IoT told CMSWire.

The platform is an outgrowth of the Salesforce IoT initiative the company launched in 2015.

Bridging the Gap Between IoT and Business Applications

While many providers offer their own variation of an IoT business application, Salesforce with IoT Explorer Edition focuses on four key elements, Martin said:

  • The devices themselves
  • The networks — that is, the connectivity required so those devices can talk to each other and the rest of the world
  • The IoT platform, or put another way the device management platform — meaning the software that helps you manage the devices, deploy the firmware, collect data from those devices in a secure manner and
  • The business applications that integrate with the data from the IoT.

Perhaps the most difficult step for companies, he continued, is the last point — the connection to and integration with the business applications. Some 300 IoT platforms are on the market today, he said — but what most customers are missing is the tie to CRM so they can monetize their investment. 

“It’s been too hard up until now for companies to connect to the world of IoT infrastructure to the world of business applications and customer experience,” Martin said.

Salesforce IoT Explorer with examples of supported devices

IoT Data Informs Customer Experiences 

Woodson Martin, EVP and GM Salesforce IoT
Woodson Martin
IoT Explorer Edition is built using Salesforce.com’s low-code approach to its products — a “clicks not code” approach if you will. IoT Explorer Edition is also focused on putting the customer data in the right context, Martin said. 

“As data flows from the connected devices, in order to deliver the right customer experience you need to bring in and consider the data that you’re already managing about your customers in the CRM.”

“For instance, if a product looks like it’s failing, before you know the right action to take, you need to understand such things as whether that product is under warranty, who is responsible for the service, is it a paid service that is covered by a subscription and so on.”

It is impossible to take the right action without that data at hand, he said.

Use Cases for Salesforce IoT Explorer Edition

IoT Explorer Edition is ideal for three main use cases, Martin continued: proactive sales, proactive service and proactive engagement.

An example of proactive sales would be an electrical equipment vendor that, when looking at the data flowing from the devices, is able to determine whether the equipment is nearing the end of its useful life. If it is, that presents a potential new sales opportunity.

A proactive service scenario might entail a company that rents out RVs to campers. The RVs tend to have a lot of automated components, which can be wired with IoT. When the customer brings back the camper the company already knows what needs to be serviced before it can be put back into the rental pool.

Proactive engagement focuses on outreach to customers whose connected product may not be broken, but remains unused or underutilized.

The Marriage of IoT and CRM

Salesforce IoT Explorer Edition is more than just adding CRM to a connected device, or at least it represents the beginning of something more, Martin concluded. Consider what it would be like to sell or service or engage with a customer with not only IoT-based CRM data but also artificial intelligence that is overlaid on top of that.

“So if I create, for example, a service ticket in the Service Cloud, I am able to reason — based on the history of the service tickets — what might be the best solution for this particular customer,” he said.

“We will be driving even more proactivity through the application of artificial intelligence to this marriage of IoT and CRM,” he said.