Salesforce1 – is the era of the ‘customer’ officially upon us?

At the definitive CRM conference –Dreamforce, salesforce1 was officially announced by a Marc Benioff brandishing his toothbrush like a magic wand! As he strutted around the floor, one couldn’t help but wonder what the noise was all about? Is it just a version upgrade? A big step up? Or overhyped, the same way Marc overdoes ‘IT’S AWWSOMM!!’?


Let’s first start with the thought behind salesforce1. The company that sloganeered the ‘Internet of Things’, now harps upon the ‘Internet of Customers.’ Is there substance to this new statement? Yes, there definitely is. This has got to be the next step in world’s no. 1 CRM company’s evolution. After focusing on connecting the 50 billion devices that would be out there by the end of this decade, salesforce now aims to connect to the customers behind them. As Marc stressed – B2B or B2C, at the end of the day, you’re dealing with ‘customers.’ And connecting with them better definitely makes sound business sense.

But, for this to happen, it’s not just the interface with the customer that matters. What also matters is keeping the sales team connected. What’s more, in these days of BYOD options, work from home policies and the general intercontinental flavor of business, being in touch on the move is what matters. And in this regard, salesforce1 definitely scores a hit.

The company predicts that salesforce1 will deliver:

  • +29% mobile productivity
  • +83% process improvement
  • +56% faster deployment
  • +56% better access to information
  • + 33% employee productivity

Salesforce1 is a platform that is extremely mobile and device friendly, that too from multiple angles. This means, it is developer, admin, customer, and sales team friendly, form the mobile point of view. Let’s look at it in detail:

For Developers

Salesforce1 offers 10 times more API feeds than before. There also are a bunch of new streaming and REST APIs. In addition, developers can take advantage of 200+ calls and methods. To make developing even easier, the company has enhanced the Visualforce platform, and is releasing Visualforce1, which will aid the building of mobile apps. Some 10+ million Visualforce pages as well as custom actions are now mobile-enabled.

Drag and drop tools allow easy app development. As does easy social feed implementation, visual workflows, and multi –language development. The focus on APIs means that data level integration with 3rd-party as well as back-office systems is easy. Developers can also customize the salesforce UI itself, making for a unique environment in the company colors and buzzwords. They also have access to topclass frameworks, mobile API’s, customer data and Geolocation.

In short, salesforce1 ensures that the developer can focus on building a great app, with worrying about the back and other technical details. Any app developed on salesforce1 is instantly device friendly.

For the Sales Team

Truly, the biggest benefits of salesforce are for the its most extensive users – the salesforce. It offers a plethora of information and actionable options when on the move. Perhaps, the most useful is the Today app, which integrates the office schedule, personal itinerary as well as the Salesforce task list on one convenient screen. It makes for ideal viewing at the start of the day!

Dashboards, salesforce services, reports and customizations are all available. Notifications pop up for anything that needs attention. Custom list views can be easily accessed, and custom objects as well as apps can be conveniently reached via the navigation menu.

The Facebook like interface is both appealing, and easy to use. The feed-first display format also allows publisher actions. This means users can simply, for example, escalate a case or perform other such custom actions.

Perhaps the biggest advantage is that the sales team can be connected wherever they may be, and easily access all apps and customer data. It makes for seamless collaboration between sales teams wherever they may be. Salesforce1 also has a private AppExchange – companies can maintain their own app stores – which ideal for the BYOD environment that is fast taking over the corporate world.
Other things made easy are:

  • Dialing into a meeting; finding contact info for all d attendees
  • Assigning tasks, updating opportunities

Adding new contacts, creating new leads in the customer lobby, submitting forecasts

For Customers

By this, one refers to the easy maintaining of a harmonious customer relationship. Salesforce1 offers a seamlessly connected experience to customers, enhanced with the help of mobile connectivity to tools such as ExactTarget, Heroku, Radian6, Buddy Media, and more. The enhanced Communities app, further adds to the ‘connected’ experience. Customers also have the advantage of connecting to company apps via third-party services like Dropbox, and LinkedIn.

For Admins

Admins have not one, but two apps to play around with their own instance from anywhere. The apps give real-time updates and permit the performance of all admin duties remotely, including reset of user passwords, managing of user access, and review of upgrade as well as maintenance schedules. They can deploy apps to all employees with just a click, and pass on the legacy or partner apps to any device – all, with just a click.

Is there anything missing?

While everything seems hunky dory, are there any drawbacks? OR missing links? Analytics, for one, has always been a missing element that the company needs to deliver on soon. These are the days of big data, and companies need to be able to analyse all the various things their customers are upto, so that they can think ahead of their competitors. Of course, developers can take advantage of the Marketing Cloud to filter beneficial analytics, but salesforce1 could do much better on this front.

A cursory glance though the comments on the Google Play page indicates that the hurry to get the app in ready-to-ship condition in time for Dreamforce has taken its toll. Complaints of slowness, excessive battery drainage, hanging, Today not loading etc. are common. Of course these are just teething problems which should be resolved in a matter of time.

One distinct disadvantage is the fact that opportunities and tasks cannot be updated when offline. The company’s response to Arturo Wu, who works in rural areas with low connectivity leaves a lot to be desired. Here it is: “..offline is a very complex feature for us to build. If you need offline functionality in the near term, I’m afraid the best path forward is to reach out to one of our partners or ISVs for custom development.”

Another issue is what happens to code written earlier? The company claims that there would be no need to rewrite it. They also claim that for salesforce1, there are 3+ million apps available on the Appexchange. But in contrast, on the salesforce1 Ready page, there are just 9 apps available, and 9 more coming soon.
Another issue is that Salesforce1 only works with Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) onwards. This OS was released just about a year ago, and there surely are recently bought devices running earlier versions. This is a cruel blow to them.

The verdict

“Yes yes yes! This last update is much closer to what the mobile user needs!” enthuses Kendrick Kirk on Google Play. Add to this, is the fact that there are 100,000 – 500,000 downloads already, proving that salesforce1 is a winner.

It is also a clear pointer to what the future holds for companies in the business of customer delight – either you go mobile, or you get booted out.

Author : Subin Jacob Date : 11 Dec 2013