We’ve long believed that the most exciting thing about wearables isn’t the Quantified Self movement as much as it is how wearables can change the relationship between people and entities. (It’s much the same as early personal computers: standalone computer were much less interesting than computers connected to the Internet.) Salesforce — the world’s top CRM platform — released this morning a suite of reference software designed to connect wearable devices to the enterprise.
The initiative, called Salesforce Wear, is designed to give the company’s 1.5 million developers a place to start to connect off-the-shelf software with off-the-shelf wearable hardware. Salesforce is posting open source code that will connect the company’s CRM platform to 10 significant hardware platforms: ARM, Pebble watches, Samsung Gear 2, Google Glass, Android Wear, OMSignal clothing, Philips medical equipment, Fitbit, Thalmic’s Myo gesture controllers, and Bionym’s Nymi identity bands.
Daniel Debow, the senior vice president heading up Salesforce Wear, said in interview that enterprise wearables were already a real thing. There have been five times as many pieces of wearable gear sold in the first three years of the category as was true of smartphones in that product’s first three years. Asked why wearables were important to business, he pointed to how new use cases grew up around mobile technology that never would have happened with earlier platforms:
Uber could not have existed until there were sensors with GPS in phones with people walking around. We think the same thing is going to happen with wearables.
By the same token, the unique qualities of wearables will drive unique use cases. Debow talked about putting a Nymi band in a casino; the house could easily associate the wearer’s identity with his or her historical and current behavior and customize hospitality offers in real time. A wristwear application could give sales executives critical information about their prospects when and where needed. A healthcare application could link information gathered from a patient to allow better diagnosis and care.
Some of the demos were kind of obvious, but that’s almost the point: Salesforce is in the business of providing plumbing that other people can develop around. If Salesforce builds the obvious stuff as demos, developers closer to the ground will do the more interesting work. At least, that’s the plan.
Salesforce is in an enviable position. It has the CRM infrastructure already. Its sample software shows developers possible use cases — and can be extended to other platforms. It doesn’t take much imagination to see how the Salesforce Wear plumbing could be used to make it cheap and easy to connect a Vusix visor to an SAP dispatch and repair application.
The Quantified Self is one thing. The Quantified World is a much more powerful thing, and that’s what Salesforce Wear promises.