Aiming to boost the development and faster deployment of mobile applications for business, Salesforce.com has announced a new set of do-it-yourself tools and services collectively referred to as Lightning Platform Mobile.
There are three major parts to the Lightning Platform Mobile: Mobile Builders, Mobile Services and an all-new feature called Mobile Publisher.
With Mobile Publisher, Salesforce aims to make it easier for admins to publish employee and customer apps directly on the Apple App Store and Google Play. Mobile Publisher takes care of all the packaging and submission processes for getting apps published and updated.
Salesforce has invested heavily in its own AppExchange for app distribution. Leyla Seka, who heads Salesforce Mobile, said the company is committed to, and is happy with, the growth of AppExchange.
'BYOD Is in Play, and Customers Want to Get Their Own Apps'
“AppExchange brings apps into the core sales experience. With Lightning Platform, we want to bring app distribution to the end user where BYOD is in play and customers want to get their own apps,” Seka told eWEEK. “AppExchange remains absolutely critical to our ecosystem and partnerships and helps delight our customers with plenty of choice.”
Admins can use Mobile Builders in a variety of ways—from easily turning spreadsheets into mobile apps, designing their app’s data model and configuring the app user interface using simple clicks. AppExchange also offers more than 200 ready-made components for mobile app development.
Mobile Services let admins add more power to their mobile apps with elaborate workflows, Einstein’s declarative AI services and integration to third-party data. Einstein is Salesforce’s umbrella name for a set of artificial intelligence features it offers. One specific new feature in this set of mobile services is the ability for admins to easily add mobile push notifications with the click of a button.
A Mobile Development Skills Gap
The news comes at a time of growing and wide adoption of mobile devices. Yet at the same time Seka noted building mobile apps for iOS and Android and enhancing them with back-end services can be costly and time consuming. She points to research in Salesforce’s State of IT report from 2017 that indicates 48 percent of IT organizations have a significant development skills gap, with an additional 33 percent anticipating one in the next two years.
With Lightning Mobile Platform, Seka said, Salesforce is addressing the need for more efficient mobile development low-code tools, prebuilt components and drag-and-drop interfaces.
She noted that one early user, global equipment rental company United Rentals, created an app for 2,000 sales reps that helps them do a better job of mapping where the reps are and spotting opportunities for meeting with potential and existing customers.
Another early user was Cornell University, which created a mobile app for 22,000 students to help them get information on meals, community forums and more. Previously, that information was distributed via email.
Don't Need to Be a Developer to Use It
“I love that story because the woman who created the app isn’t a developer,” said Seka.
Jumbo, a century-old Dutch supermarket chain, used the new Salesforce software to build an employee app for internal collaboration and task management along with a customer app for nutritional info and same-day delivery orders—both in the span of eight weeks.
The pilot or beta version of Lightning Mobile Platform is available now, with general availability of the finished version set for February.