At this year’s Dreamworld Salesforce.com Chairman Marc Benioff announced a new and potentially disruptive technology from a podium set in the center of the Moscone South convention center. His audience consisted of such notables’ as actor Sean Penn, model and philanthropist Petra Nemcova and the prime minister of Haiti Laurent Lamothe as well as fifteen thousand customers, partners, and employees as well as another 100,000 watching remotely.
Despite the fact the announcement was the most important of the fall enterprise 2013 software season, the news mostly fell on deaf ears. Not because Benioff & Company are not good at positioning software. No one in the business is better. But how do you get any large crowd excited about plumbing? Although Prime Minister Lamothe, Mr. Penn, and Miss Nemcova may be forgiven for not grasping the announcement’s full significance the news mostly escaped the 134,892 people in attendance that did not want to think about platform issues. Which is exactly the point.
“Honestly, it’s the best engineering we have ever done” said Marc Benioff in his keynote speech.
As is often the case with disruptive technology a new offering is very difficult to explain because it requires a new way of thinking. That left many of the audience trying to understand Salesforce1 in ways it is not. Even by the lose standards of the definition it is not a platform. It is not a strategy. It is not a mobile interface. It is not a combination of existing products. And it is not the only product of its kind. Can you explain Salesforce1 by explaining what it is not?
The Salesforce1 represents an enormous engineering effort since it required the entire Salesforce.com platform to be redesigned and rewritten. As a result some customers are using Salesforce1 today without even knowing it. Here is what is it not:
- Platform - Although Salesforce1 could technically be called a “platform”, doing so does not do service to the definition of platforms nor does it encourage a better understanding of the features of Salesforce1 compared with other Salesforce.com platforms. Part of the problem is the loose definition of the word. In the real world, a platform is a raised level surface on which people can stand or objects can be placed. A better analogy is to call Salesforce1 an arch rather than a platform. Salesforce1 protects the enterprise systems below it from rapid changes taking place among mobile and other mass market devices in the cloud. New application are not really built on Salesforce1, they are built on the device software stacks above it. Since arches typically are used to support the weight of a wall, platform, or bridge above it the analogy rings more true.
- Strategy – Salesforce1 is not a strategy since it includes code and has been partly released.
- Mobile interface - Although mobility that is an important part, fixed devices, such as desktop computers can use the Salesforce1 inclusion layer, and Salesforce has worked for three years to replatformed itself so SF1 is more than just an interface.
- Combination of existing Salesforce products – Elements of past Salesforce products make their appearance in Salesforce1, but it is new technology, and some products such as Yammer were re-architected to accommodate it so it is not just a mash up of old products.
So what exactly is Salesforce1? Join us at the Constellation Webinar Cutting Through the Hype of Salesforce1 and find out exactly what Salesforce1 really is.