In a clear sign that iPhones are rapidly winning acceptance in the corporate world, both Oracle and Salesforce.com wasted no time enabling iPhone to connect to their business applications online.
Oracle on July 10 released the first in a series of free front end business applications that will let iPhone users connect to business intelligence data on application servers back at headquarters.
Meanwhile Salesforce.com announced that Force.com Platform-as-a-Service and its CRM service are available as Salesforce mobile applications that will be distributed through the Apple Apps Store.
These mobile applications will enable Salesforce.com CRM users to initiate phone calls and e-mails from within the CRM application. Users will also be able to call from customer information from the Salesforce.com servers and display it on their iPhones. This will allow them to navigate through customer accounts, contacts and sales opportunities.
The first Oracle application on the iPhone is Oracle Business Indicators, which allows iPhone users to access a variety of business reports, such as financial trends, sales performance results or customer satisfaction surveys, stored on application servers back at headquarters.
Oracle, Salesforce.com and other software providers have been able to quickly port their applications to the iPhone because Apple released a software development kit this spring.
Oracle application marketing executives, most of whom use various smart phone models themselves, have paid attention to the various types of mobile phones that customers and prospects carry with them, noted Lenley Hensarling, Oracle group vice president, Business Applications Development. Currently, Research in Motion’s BlackBerry is still the most widely used smart phone in the enterprise, Hensarling said.
However, “increasingly we see more execs and more managers using iPhones and I think that is only going to increase because of the strong capability of it as a platform and the strength of the new SDK.”
While the Salesforce and Oracle mobile applications are available free from the Apple App Store, iPhone users still need to be either Salesforce.com subscribers or be licensed users of the Oracle server applications.
The Salesforce mobile application also gives users access to 72,000 custom-built Force.com applications for everything from human-resource applications to pharmaceutical industry applications for managing drug sample distributions and contacts with physicians.
With the Salesforce mobile application, Force.com developers will be able to deploy their applications to the iPhone without writing additional code, and they will be able to quickly access their Force.com apps on the iPhone.
Oracle will also soon be releasing additional iPhone applications, including Oracle Approvals, that will provide three widgets for approving new hires, purchases and expenses, Hensarling said. The hiring-approval process will enable a manager to compare a proposed salary with other offers that the company made for a similar position in a particular location or region, he said.
Oracle will also provide CRM applications for sales forecasting, lead contact and account management and then sales productivity tools, such as a the sales prospecting tool, which Oracle launched earlier this year as a desktop application, he said.
This application recommends various things a sales representative should do when approaching a prospective or current customer based upon information gleaned for data mining. For example, the application would suggest other products or services to offer to a current customer based on other items the customer has already purchased.