Salesforce is betting that wearables like the Pebble smart watch will not only become fixtures at work, but also drive new, productivity-enhancing workflows in the enterprise.
The San Francisco-based cloud computing innovator today unveiled Salesforce Wear, a new initiative designed to fast-track the development of apps that link wearable devices to the company's market-leading business cloud ecosystem. The reason is simple, according to Daniel Debow, senior vice president of Salesforce's Emerging Technology division.
Just as Salesforce predicted the popularity of mobile-friendly, cloud-delivered software for businesses -- and bet its future on it -- the company sees a similar pattern emerging with wearables, albeit at an accelerated pace.
"Wearables are growing five times faster than smartphones," Debow told Datamation during a phone interview. "And smartphones grew pretty fast." Citing a forecast from IHS, the company expects 180 million wearables to be sold in 2018, a drastic increase from the 50 million units that buyers are expected to snap up this year.
In a recent report from ABI Research, the firm estimated that the enterprise wearables market will reach $18 billion by 2019. ABI expects the market to grow at a brisk compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 56.1 percent until then.
To get ahead of the market, the program includes app development resources and sample code. Dubbed Salesforce Wear Developer Pack for the Salesforce1 Platform, the package includes "fully operational reference apps" for select devices that help developers get up to speed on incorporating wearables into the Salesforce ecosystem.
"We're releasing those apps open source," said Debow. He added that Salesforce is "perfectively happy if they copy/paste [the code] and build apps." Developing apps with Salesforce Wear is a no-cost effort. "We're lowering the barriers to innovation," he said.
The aim is to build contextually-aware, frictionless apps that complement the unique user experiences (UX) that wearables provide. During an online demo on an emulated Samsung Gear smart watch, Salesforce senior manager Kevin Ota showed off how his company's platform can be extended into the wearables realm.
"The focus is on quick and simple," said Ota as he navigated a Salesforce card stack on the Gear smart watch in preparation for an upcoming meeting. Despite the limited real estate, concise screens provided information on attendees, including "key players" that are denoted by a key icon. He issued a post-meeting email using a pre-canned message and updated the Salesforce activity stream without once relying on a smartphone or tablet.
Developers aren't the only ones the company is bringing on board. Early Salesforce Wear partners include mobile chipmaker ARM, Pebble and OMsignal. The program also supports the Myo gesture-controlled wearable from Thalmic and Nymi identity authenticator from Bionym.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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