Salesforce Makes a Big Play for Wearable Tech

Wearable technology is a big story in the news right now but enterprise-focused cloud computing company Salesforce says its not just for consumers – there are also business applications for wearables.

Earlier this month, the company launched its wearable-focused Salesforce1 Platform and several Canadian companies have already developed apps for it.

“We see this as a massive opportunity for businesses,” says Daniel Debow, Salesforce’s senior vice-president of emerging technologies.

But while wearable tech is still in its infancy, Debow says it’s important for the company to get in on the ground floor.

“It’s definitely, definitely early days,” says Debow, but he says it an “opportunity to iterate and innovate before this becomes mainstream.”

He says that building up in-house experience and expertise that the company will need to succeed in the enterprise wearables space will take some time.

“This isn’t innovation for innovation’s sake,” Debow says, “two years from now … it’s too late.”

And even though business is usually wary of fads, Debow doesn’t think wearable technology is one. He says no one could have guessed how disruptive the iPhone be, pointing to companies like User, that have built businesses around the device.

“This is the next major platform shift,” says Debow.

But for Salesforce, its still focused around what the company does.

“This has to be about pragmatic business value,” Debow says. “The world isn’t done with innovation.”

And he says Salesforce is already getting customer interest for its wearable platform.

“The companies that are interested in this are not small and they’re not small thinking,” Debow says.

Canadian companies including Thalmic Labs, OMsignal and Bionym have already developed apps for their wearable products that are compatible with the Salesforce platform.

On the agenda are things like adding shift management functionality to the Samsung Gear, allowing workers to clock in and out on their smartwatch and receive reminders if they’re on-site and haven’t clocked-in.

While the current offerings lean towards the internet-of-things side, there will be support for other connected devices – including Google Glass, with a hand-free field service app for workers in the oil and gas industry.

For Debow, who founded Toronto HR startup Rypple, which was acquired by Salesforce and renamed, getting in to cutting edge technology is part of who Salesforce is.

“We have got a heritage of looking at the consumer world,” says Debow, “and what that means for enterprise and business.”

He points to the California-based company’s history as one of the first companies to sell software-as-a-service to other businesses rather than consumers. It has also made strong moves into the business social networking space.

But it will still take time.

“Everybody doesn’t have to sign-up for this tomorrow,” Debow says. “There are still businesses with no mobile strategy.”