Over the past twelve months or so, Salesforce has extended its existing story around the social enterprise to strongly articulate its opinion that the future of the enterprise lies in a mobile-enabled workforce. The company is today announcing the next step in that progression with the announcement of a new platform push designed to help organizations build mobile applications that are inherently tied to their core enterprise data.

It’s an accepted fact that consumers are transacting a growing proportion of their online commerce via mobile devices but this has been slow to translate to enterprise-level applications. In part this is because customarily enterprise data is trapped in silos that are often difficult to connect to the outside world. In a world where data is increasingly the most valuable asset an organization holds, opening this data up and allowing business units to utilize it in new ways is critical. And, it goes without saying, many of these new ways of utilizing data will be on a mobile device.

So, what does this new Salesforce platform actually deliver? The new platform has two services:

  • Salesforce Mobile SDK 2.0 – The open source project is designed to make it easy for any enterprise developer to securely connect enterprise data to any mobile app – native, hybrid or HTML5 – on any iOS or Android device. The SDK also enables HTML5-based apps to leverage device features like the camera and geolocation, and provides additional libraries for key enterprise requirements such as authentication and secure offline storage.
  • Developer Mobile Packs – These open source “quick start” packs enable any web developer to build highly responsive HTML5 or hybrid mobile apps on any platform and access real-time Salesforce data. Mobile Packs leverage the massively scalable and trusted Salesforce Platform REST APIs through a choice of popular, lightweight JavaScript frameworks – AngularJS, Backbone.js and jQuery Mobile – to offer greater development flexibility and deliver amazing data-centric mobile experiences.

Alongside the product announcement, Salesforce is announcing a program for consulting and implementation partners, perhaps as a acknowledgement that in the enterprise world, there is a distinct lack of understanding of the why/how and what of mobile app enablement. The new mobile accelerator program is a consulting partnership with company’s such as Appirio, Bluewold and Capgemini.

MyPOV

Eureka – Enterprises, whether they know it or not, have no option but to embrace agile methodologies, point solutions, and mobile applications. By bringing together consulting services along with holistic development tools, Salesforce is helping move traditional enterprises into the mobile world. That said I do have some questions – the company is strongly articulating the open source nature of the mobile packs – it hopes to build some community momentum around the initiative. While this is a logical move from Salesforce’s perspective, it is somewhat dissonant to see such a strong open source messaging around mobile development whose very value proposition lies embedded in proprietary data and core applications.

I don’t believe that Salesforce needed to put this open source spin on things. Enterprises, in my experience, realize that they need to start thinking mobile and are looking for partners who can help them bridge the gap from where they are today to a more mobile-enabled model. By tying together core data alongside mobile app development tools – Salesforce makes it something of a no-brainer for enterprises to begin their mobile journey.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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