Just how much can you run on your phone?

Salesforce kicked off the mutha of all in-app advertising 6 months ago with the now infamous Banner feature. Love it or hate it we are now left wondering just how possible is the statement they are making “Run Your Business From Any Mobile Device with the Salesforce1 Mobile App”.


With the release of the new Salesforce1 mobile app it seems like now is a really good time to revisit this one in a little more detail. So can you really run your business from your phone (or tablet)?

The Apps 
The new app is available on the best platforms first:

  1. iOS – Apple App Store
  2. Android – Google Play store (coming in December 2014)

And to a lesser extent:

  1. Windows – well we keep hearing a lot about the Salesforce Microsoft partnership, but that’s about it. Saying this, if still interested, it’s now available for invite only testing.
  2. Blackberry – the closest thing to Salesforce1 mobile experience comes in the shape of the “Connect to Salesforce” app

At this year’s Dreamforce they announced Lightning Components, as well as providing the knowledge that we have in fact we been running Lightning for sometime now. Lightning is the technology under of the hood of the Salesforce1 mobile app, which we now know is based on the open source framework, Aura.

The latest version of the app on iOS stands tall at version 7.0. This is the sixth major update to the Salesforce1 mobile app first released a little over a year ago at Dreamforce 2013. This demonstrates just how fast the mobile apps are moving – and need to move – and also the pace at which Salesforce is pushing its new technology forward.

Before we get into the crux of the question at hand. I want to recap on the main improvements which the latest release brings in.

Feature Update – Mobile Actions ActionList_xixxzq
The big plus icon has finally vanished for good. Remember this one? Now you see it, now you don’t! Anyone who had used the Salesforce1 app in anger will totally get and understand this one. It’s been replaced with the new Salesforce1 Action Bar. Big sigh of relief as this provides a very robust way to trigger actions within the App and also implement new actions (hello Lightning Components!).

Feature Update – Data Access & Search
What use is a mobile app if you cannot access your data easily? The primary way of doing this in the Salesforce desktop app is by using List Views. You can now access up to 200 list views per object on your mobile device. Reports and dashboards aside this now unlocks a massive amount data from your org and makes it accessible on your phone.

Outside of List Views, a number of search enhancements have been added with this release. Global search is now always accessible in the top app window and you can now filter by object scope when accessing specific object types, e.g. Account.

Now, swinging back onto the main topic of this post – can you really “Now Run Your Business on Your Phone”?

So just how mature has the Salesforce1 mobile app become?
Trying to wrap your arms around everything a business would want to do is hard, so for the purposes of this post we are going to assume these are the main areas a business would be concerned about when mobilising their company:

  • Productivity Apps – Chatter, Event, Calls & Task Management
  • CRM – Lead, Accounts, Contacts, Opportunity, Products and Case Management
  • ERP (Back Office)  – Managing, Assets, Orders, Contracts & Approvals
  • Enterprise Apps – Custom Business Processes
  • Analytics – Reporting on data within the Org

Salesforce have been iterating hard and fast with the Salesforce1 mobile app across all the main features, so to guide our assessment further we are going to apply a maturity weighting to these features. (Completely open to feedback on this – please leave us a comment)

Salesforce1 Maturity Weighting:

  • 0 – Currently no support
  • 1 – Read-only access
  • 2 – Basic functionality (20/80)
  • 3 – Good mobile support (60/40)
  • 4 – Few noticeable exceptions (80/20)
  • 5 – Matches the desktop App (100%)



When we are talking collaboration, we’re actually talking Chatter here. Possibly one of the most mature features in the mobile app, Chatter existed as an app in its own right before the Salesforce1 App was announced. It’s extremely close to getting a 5, but features such as topic detail pages, access to unlisted groups, recommendations for new groups to join, and Q&A in the feed are still to be added.

Task management within the app is a very solid affair as you would expect as tasks are the staple diet of mobile and office productivity. The only one minor gripe here is the lack of ability to add attachments to the task record, but be honest who really does that. Maybe this one deserves a 5.

A lot has already been said about why this feature was omitted for so long, well it’s here! Events can be created directly in the app, yes natively. So not part of the TODAY feature or local calendar events from your phone, but actual Events in Salesforce. We see this as a 4, mainly for the same reason as task plus lack support for recurring and multi-attendees events.

Phone Calls
Phone calls otherwise known as “Log a call”, this gets a straight 5 here.


Onto CRM related features, Accounts scores a solid 4, only minor omission here is the ability to view Accounts within hierarchies and change ownership.

Contacts functionality is weighted strongly scoring a 5, no obvious omissions here.

Lead management, an integral part of CRM sees some big functionality gaps getting addressed like the ability to convert leads (with some noticeable limitations) and the new dupe blocking functionality (currently in beta) can be deployed at one of the most common entry points for dirty data. Going to give this one 4 – conversion is kind of there, but again you can’t change owners on leads.

We have collected all the details about the prospect, next we need to create an opportunity and start tracking details about the potential sales deal. We can create the opportunity record and edit existing lines added straight from the get go. To add new opportunity product lines requires a little custom configuration of a custom action to get going.  All round this it solid affair and scores 4.

Quotes goes hand in hand with Opportunities which makes it even more strange that there is no support for creating Quotes within Salesforce1 App. In some ways we should just leave this out altogether instead of bringing down the overall score for the exercise. Maybe few years ago I would have said don’t include as most people were not using Quotes. The last few CRM implementations I have done have all used the Quotes feature, so for that reason I am going to leave it in and score it a zero.

Nothing here as of yet. Probably not top of the list of priorities. can’t help but feel how nice this would be to update pricing on the go.I take regular calls from some small companies whose Admin is out of town and require a new Product adding or an update to existing product price, so I hope it rises up the priority list soon.

Cases fare pretty much the same as Accounts. Lack of support for Case Hierarchies and change owner. Change ownership can be address with some clever Case Assignment rules, so you could argue you don’t need this functionality. Stays solid at 4.

ERP (Back Office)
Salesforce doesn’t claim to be a fully fledged ERP system, so for the purpose of our exercise I am going to group everything which comes after the Opportunity and categorise it as Back office (e.g. ERP related processes)

Assets is one of those funny objects which should be avoided at all costs, just create a custom object if you need Assets. This one almosts flat lines at zero, but limps up to a one with the fact you can view related assets lists, just don’t click on them.

This slightly improves on Assets in the sense you can edit Orders but that’s as far as it goes. The action trick maybe possible to get something going on the product front, but have not seen or read anything official on that.

Things are getting slightly better, but only because Contracts is a standalone object pretty much. Everything is available accept change owner. How often does a Contract really need to changed? Put in perspective changing owner on account, case and lead is more important. Let’s settle on 5 here.

This pops up as a proper mobile feature new in the new release. Technically you sort of had this with Approvals by email, so this just adds to the mobility of approvals (with push notifications…) Feels like it should be weighed in at a respectable 4.

Enterprise Apps
Technically we are talking anything custom here which has primarily been built using custom objects, and not Apex. Let’s take some really simple Enterprise Apps which Salesforce customers like to build out on the platform:

  1. Expenses
  2. Holiday Request
  3. Time Entry

All the above Apps can be built entirely using the declarative feature set and should match the functionality of the desktop easily. Each Enterprise App example here scores 5 here.

Let’s try to forget about Wave for one minute and focus on what is available purely within the Salesforce1 mobile app.

Can you build reports, no, but not because it’s technically impossible, it’s just nobody really thinks it’s needed yet. We know the best way to access reports is via a graphical dashboard, however some of us like to hit the reports tab and search through what is often hundreds of reports, most of which we don’t use. You are spared this luxury as you cannot directly access the equivalent of the report tabs. So you cannot create, edit or schedule reports. You can however share the results onto the chatter feed and apply some pretty simple filters – arguablu all you really need. This feels like it should be a 3, so let’s go with that.

Dashboard is the best and only way to access Salesforce reports within the Salesforce1 mobile app. Dashboard visualizations are static views of the underlying report data, nothing compared to the data rollercoaster provide with Wave. There is no ability to create or manipulate the dashboards, only the ability to access pre-existing dashboards where you drill-down to access the reports. I’m going to score dashboards a 3 too. If you combine the two together making a total of 6 out of maximum 10 which seems reasonable.


So that’s the main features of the Salesforce1 mobile app weighed up! You should now have a feel of the main improvements the latest iteration of the app provides, plus a high-level summary of the functional processes which can be can run from the app. But just how much can we run on our phone realistically? Also have to assume here, that we are not Marc Benioff or some top executive who run their business using dashboards and chatters entirely.

Our categories nicely tally up to 100 for us, so deriving a percentage of just how much you can run on your phone should be an easy one:

  • Productivity (Max 20)
  • CRM (Max 35)
  • ERP (Max 20)
  • Analytics (Max 10)
  • Enterprise (Max 15)

And the final score is 72 out of 100 (72%)

When we started this one, we weren’t completely sure what the final figure would be and then coming in at a massive 72% finally lets us sleep at night. To get this far so quickly by Salesforce is something which deserves a ton of kudos. The Salesforce1 mobile app really is the one mobile app which can unlock what is getting close to 80% of what users do daily within a mobile context. Any CxO who’s company has leveraged the platform will be happy that their mobile strategy can be fast tracked with little effort simply by deploying the Salesforce1 mobile app in their organization – it’s a no brainer!

Final note – the next year is starting to look interesting as Salesforce look to unify the desktop and mobile user experiences, meaning that working anywhere with any feature on any device is just around the corner.

As always would love to hear your feedback on our assessment – have we been fair or overly critical?

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