Salesforce announced two updates to its Thunder Internet of Things (IoT) cloud platform at its annual Dreamforce conference this week.
The first update is an IoT Traffic Monitor, which enables companies to better manage where all of their devices are within their fleet, and monitor their success.
Salesforce gave an example of a solar company able to visualise the various states of social panels, whether they are unregistered, installed, or wattage generated.
They can then validate whether the panels have been installed correctly, and fix issues before a customer knows there is an issue.
The second update is an IoT Profiles feature, which aims to combine data from a customer’s IoT devices, along with contextual data from Salesforce, such as service history or open opportunities.
So if a Salesforce customer’s IoT sensor sends an alert to the IoT cloud stating that it has a fault, it could combine this with the contextual knowledge from Salesforce about what service agreement is applied to the device, and suggest a course of action.
For example, perhaps the manufacturer could dispatch an agent straight away to fix this or schedule maintenance at a later date if it isn’t critical.
Can Salesforce succeed with IoT?
Clive Longbottom, analyst at Quocirca believes that for Salesforce to make a success of IoT, it will need to venture outside of CRM and sales force automation into being a fully-fledged IoT company that deals with M2M and production line IoT.
“There is not that much value that Salesforce can gain through monitoring data from the likes of environmental probes and actuators, and even when it comes to data along a value chain, Salesforce only really needs the high-level data such as where items are in the supply chain,” said Longbottom, when speaking to IoB.
“So it has to come up with compelling use case scenarios of where it sees IoT in its core user base, or it has to spread its wings,” he added.
He believes that Salesforce will eventually push into these new areas, which will enable the firm to continue to grow. However, he doesn’t see Salesforce as a major threat to other emergent IoT vendors.
“It isn’t really a major threat – it may be part of a platform play for some such as GE and Honeywell, who require more IT expertise, but the likes of Dell, Hitachi, IBM and others are well ahead on full IoT platforms,” he states.
At Dreamforce, Salesforce also announced the expanded availability of its Einstein AI/machine learning tool, and Angela Eager, research director at TechMarketView, believes that the integration of Einstein and data from IoT devices could be significant.
“While the ability to gather data from IoT devices is fundamental, business value is derived from being able to aggregate then analyse it using advanced techniques such as AI. That’s what Einstein brings to the IoT party,” she says.
“Techniques like AI and machine learning are becoming core requirements for vendors hoping to thrive in the IoT era, so we are looking at an AI race as vendors build capability and credibility in this space,” she adds.
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