SAN FRANCISCO—Salesforce.com is using its Lightning technology to revamp its suite of cloud Customer Relationship Management applications to enable businesses of every size to run their sales operations on smartphones and tablets.
“Mobile isn’t just about bringing the Salesforce app to the phone; that will never work,” said CEO Marc Benioff at an event here for customers, analysts and press.
“We have a vision that every company should have the ability to run [its] business on a phone.” He noted that every application ever built for Salesforce is available to run on a mobile device and that apps such as its Chatter for collaboration have been “reconceptualized” for mobile.
The introduction last September of a new interface and capabilities for the Salesforce CRM platform—based on its so-called Lightning technology—at the company’s Dreamforce conference was the start of a major shift at Salesforce.
In keeping with the February 2 event’s Super Bowl theme, Benioff said the announcements were designed to be like a “half time” between the company’s annual Dreamforce conferences, showing new products and a peek at what’s next.
During a Q&A session, Benioff said the company had to “hit the reset button on every one of our apps” to keep them at the cutting edge, “which is what we’ve done with Lightning.”
Among the new announcements are:
- Salesforce SteelBrick CPQ (Configure Price Quote), which uses technology acquired from the earlier acquisition of SteelBrick. Since Sales Cloud gives sales reps leads and opportunities to generate new business, SteelBrick CPQ completes the sales cycle, covering everything from sales leads to cash.
- Lightning Voice, a new feature embedded in Sales Cloud Lightning that gives sales reps click-to-call, auto-logging of calls and call forwarding so they can take calls from wherever they are.
- SalesforceIQ Inbox, which basically brings the CRM features of a separate app right to the email inbox. One of its features prompts sales reps to enter the results of a sales call, including questions, next steps and more, right after they complete a customer contact. This relieves reps of having to set aside time later to enter all of the information for multiple calls into a separate CRM app.
- Salesforce1 Mobile gives Salesforce users the ability to enter information offline on Android and iOS, for example during an airplane flight. All the information is updated across the platform once the device reconnects to the network.
- Sales Wave App is a data-driven analytics app for sales reps that includes new dashboards for pipeline trending, performance benchmarking and activity management—all designed to help reps close more deals.
The event also featured Salesforce customers talking about their experiences when using the platform and why they chose it. Julie Sweet, group CEO, North America, for consulting firm Accenture, said she’s been very pleased with how quick it was to implement.
“We went from zero to 25,000 employees worldwide in five months; that’s tremendous,” said Sweet. She said Salesforce users at Accenture are getting information and developing insights more quickly from the new software than they had from the software it replaced. “I can play with the data and look at the future and different outcomes far more easily,” she said.
Salesforce Says Latest Apps Let Users Run Business on Mobile Devices
Salesforce marketing exec Sara Varni gave a demonstration of how Accenture might use the SteelBrick component on a mobile device. In the demonstration, an area defined in red indicated a future shortfall in revenue. A click-through showed that a key customer had dropped its plans to buy.
Using SteelBrick, a new quote was created, which also generated a red flag because the discount was outside the accepted norm. In this scenario, a note is sent to the manager, who approves the discount on his Apple Watch; the deal is approved; and the revenue is saved.
It’s easy to imagine things not going quite that smoothly in the real world, but the demo did show how an enterprise sales application can work on a mobile device.
Improved Mobile Security
Today’s news represents the 49th release of Salesforce software since the company was founded in 1999. Cofounder Parker Harris said the latest statistics show customers are using the platform in large numbers, noting that Salesforce customers pumped 259 billion transactions through the platform in the fiscal 2016 third quarter, a 46 percent year-over-year increase. Transaction statistics for the most recent quarter aren’t quite ready for release.
The updates will keep coming steadily. This summer Salesforce plans to offer its 50th release. Harris admitted mobile technology didn’t have a place in original the business plan when he and Benioff created Salesforce.com, but it is front and center now.
“Customers are going to love the ability to now work offline with their mobile device,” he said. He also hinted that Salesforce will release “amazing security” for mobile apps via an earlier “small acquisition.” He said the app will make security “super easy” without having to enter
passcodes each time.
A new Field Service Lightning app is also coming. Sarah Patterson, Salesforce senior vice president of marketing, demonstrated a preview of the app, calling it “the Uber of field service apps.”
The demonstration showed how Field Service Lightning tracks the location of service representatives and has the ability to assign work to the rep closest to a new job. But the system also lets the dispatcher see if that first choice is stuck in traffic and automatically assign the job to someone who can get to the job site faster. An online map shows the field representative’s progress in getting to the job and when he or she has arrived.
Benioff summarized the day’s announcements by noting that Salesforce was creating “a deep system of intelligence” that leverages the latest technology advancements. “In our industry everything is changing, and we need to create a whole new environment,” he said. Better mobile apps are essential to attracting a new generation of workers, he observed.
“We have millions of users on mobile, and we don’t even travel with our laptops,” said Benioff.