Touch me, feel me ... buy me

dreamforce logo

Attending’s Dreamforce 2012 conference and exhibition is a full-on experience. San Francisco’s Moscone centre is draped with posters as big as your average semi-detached house, each of them depicting keynote speakers in ruminative poses - “thinking about the cloud model’s new possibilities” of course.

Where Salesforce is now going with its own take on the cloud computing model of service based IT delivery is interesting. Starting from its sales-centric Customer Relationship Management (CRM) beginnings as it did, could the "sales" segment of its name that once made perfect sense, now be at risk of looking a little incongruent?

Benioff would no doubt tell us that sales drives business and customers are everything, so the commercial tag in his firm’s name makes perfect sense. But the cloud now is all about mobile device usability, the cloud now is all about enterprise social application usage and the cloud now is all about touch-enablement of these social mobile apps so we can get the most out of the still-developing generation of services.

Hitting the newswires this morning as we head out with the party faithful to attend the opening keynote is news of the firm’s "next-generation" Salesforce Sales Cloud with its accompanying sister technology Salesforce Touch. This HTML5-driven technology will help bring the firm’s services to tablets and smartphones including Amazon Kindle, iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

So the future is a social mobile touch-enabled secure cloud built within the context of modern business processes and customer behaviour.

Is this too much to swallow already? Or could Salesforce get some of the way to pulling it off? The multiplicity of product news this week suggests that the firm might be taking an intelligently modular approach to constructing its new cloud vision, however we might describe it.

The social stream will come from Salesforce’s Chatter, a technology that combines social networking features such as user profiles, real-time feeds, trending topics, recommendations and influence measurement, with the business information and processes in Salesforce. The company says that Chatter is integrated across all of the Salesforce apps and can be extended through custom and partner apps built on the Salesforce Platform.

The social data harness

Salesforce wants us to be able to “harness real-time public social data”and this means tweets, blogs, YouTube videos and other social content as it develops. “By linking that information with traditional data like employer and phone number, enterprises will have the data perspective necessary to develop deeper connections with customers,” said the company, in a press statement.

So does it all come back to sales after all? However the cloud develops, we are still going to ultimately use it for selling everything from loaves of bread to sports cars if we can.

Salesforce wants to bring together the various "indirect sales channels" and “legacy partner portals” that firms are starting to now haemorrhaging customers through (as Salesforce sees it), as more modern firms now adopt fully cloud-powered business models

The cloud is just a hyper-connected sales vehicle then. Who’d have thought it?