• October 12, 2006
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Dreamforce: Wonders of the Business Web

Secretary of State Colin Powell was working at his desk four years ago in the U.S. State Department when he received a call from a Russian diplomat in New York City. The diplomat was disgruntled about a clause in U.N. Resolution 347. Not sure what part of the Resolution the diplomat was referring to, so Powell did what we all do these days. "I Googled it," Powell said during his keynote session at the Dreamforce Conference yesterday. "And by God, we got them to agree to the terms because I proved him wrong."

Powell's example, among many others he gave, was aimed at highlighting how the Web and the information and tools available on it are changing American business process. "We're moving faster than ever before because of the Web, and American businesses are too, thanks to the development in recent years of the business Web," he said, referring to the on-demand business model that has been driven by companies like Salesforce.com.

During the afternoon session, Jim Steele, president of Salesforce.com, and Abhi Ingle, vice president of business solutions consulting at Cingular, continued where Powell left off, speaking about the impact that business Web solutions are making on enterprise mobility. "There are currently 2.5 billion people using cell phones worldwide, and U.S. consumers consumed 1.4 trillion wireless minutes last year alone. This is a transformative force and the business Web is poised to follow."

Companies have started with wireless emails but are progressing to business applications, with the continued development and deployment of new wireless devices and their supporting networks being the catalyst for "this revolution," Ingle said. "Email is being underpinned by smartphones and high-speed networks. The mindsets of businesses are changing to adopt to wireless."

Ingle said platforms like Salesforce.com's AppExchange Mobile are simplifying the integration equation for deploying these solutions by creating a marketplace of applications that can be scaled down via Mobile. Business applications like SFA and CRM are becoming mainstream, though Salesforce is starting to see mobile applications from mobile inventory software vendors, work order management providers, and asset tracking companies, to name a few.

Despite how easy a platform like AppExchange makes it to leverage the Web-based applications, Ingle said companies shouldn't adopt mobile applications "just because it's hot." These applications should be kept simple, because of the screen size to present the information on, and companies should focus on only those solutions that will be enhanced by mobility.

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