You Don't Need a Mobile Platform. You Need a Customer Platform.

NerdIs your company feverishly building mobile apps just because it’s the latest craze? Surprise, you are doing it wrong. The mobile revolution is a customer revolution, and you need a Customer Platform, not a mobile platform. Without it, you’re just building web sites from 1996 for skinny screens.

What is a Customer Platform? A Customer Platform helps you build innovative apps that connect you with your customers, employees, partners and products in entirely new ways. A Customer Platform puts your customer at the heart of the mobile experience, and caters the app experience to the customer’s identity, preferences and the previous interactions they’ve had with you…regardless of which channel they’ve occurred on.  
 
In other words, don't build one mobile app, then another, then a web app. Build relationships with your customers. Give them access to their data. Deliver interactions that are meaningful, high value and durable. Mobile devices will be an important, but not the only, part of this. Use your Customer Platform to make every app, mobile or otherwise, work together to strengthen your customer relationships instead of delivering siloed experiences. When the next new thing comes along -- intelligent thermostats, talking cars, smart eyeglasses -- you will be ready with new apps.

Let's be super specific on what you should not do. Don't spin all your cycles trying to build the perfect native app. Don't chase all the latest user interface trends, or try to support every device. Don't spend a pile of money and time on tools and frameworks that don't further your durable connection to your users. Instead, go back to basics -- What is the foundation of your relationship with your customers? What do they want from you? What do you offer them? What data do they need to look up, or have pushed into their hands? Don't build cute silos, build meaningful connections.

Look back at Web revolution, and let's see what lessons we can learn. What companies did best on the Web? The ones that mastered Apache and MySQL? The snappiest domain names? Or did it all come down to the customer experience -- each customer's individual experience and relationship with the brand. In the end, the company with the strongest Customer Platform always wins.
 
What is the underlying value of your relationship with your customers? Expose that in your channels: Web, mobile, social and more. Make it the same connected experience no matter which channel they use. It’s their data, their products, their orders, their history, their account. Use a Customer Platform to keep track of all of it, keep it up to date and keep it one place. Mobile is hot, but it's ultimately about extending your customer relationships and value to new places and experiences.
 
Where do you begin?

First, turn your thinking upside down. Ask the hard question: Start with the relationship you have with your customers, then ask how mobile simplifies it, advances it, drives a deeper connection and loyalty. That's what mobile is about…take that value and put it in their pocket, and keep it up to date.

Next, build a system that is your master for all customer information. It must provide a complete view of all your touch points with your customers. Use a cloud identity infrastructure to make sign-in easy for your customers, employees and partners. This lets data flow both ways, and keeps you in control via policy, not spaghetti.
 
Finally, pick the right client platform for each app. But always starting thinking about your solution from the Customer Platform as the core, then expose content out to all the new innovative channels and devices your customers want to connect on. Remember, you’re not really building apps, you’re building relationships.

This week we are hosting 40 events on 5 continents for developers to get hands on with the new Salesforce Platform Mobile Services for HTML5, hybrid, and native applications.  Every developer should join us and learn how to build the next generation of mobile apps with their customer platform.  Join us for a free developer event this week: www.developerforce.com/mobile