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Apple Expands Push Into Corporate Sales By Partnering With Salesforce

Apple and Salesforce have entered into a broad partnership that includes developing technology together and promoting each other’s products.

The alliance, announced Monday to coincide with Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce developer conference in San Francisco, pairs a consumer technology giant with a major force in online software for salespeople that is also dabbling in a number of other areas like word processing and business presentation software.

The partnership is intended to give Apple more access to corporate sales, an area it increasingly wants to expand into from its dominant position in consumer electronics. Salesforce, meanwhile, hopes to cater to the businesses that are big users of Apple’s products.

The two companies have previously worked together in a far more limited way, as a natural consequence of sharing certain business customers. But Apple vice president of product marketing Susan Prescott said the partnership formalized the relationship and opened the door to more collaboration starting with cross-promoting each others products to customers and encouraging their corporate re-sellers to do the same.

“We are taking it to the next level,” Prescott said.

Salesforce president and chief product officer Bret Taylor said the partnership made sense because he “can’t think of a single customer that doesn’t take advantage of iOS,” Apple’s mobile operating system. Indeed, employees at many businesses use Apple products like iPhones and iPads, and in some cases access Salesforce’s software from those devices.

Apple has been increasingly pushing to be a corporate technology provider. Over the past three years, it has signed partnerships with a number of traditional enterprise tech companies like IBM, SAP, and Cisco as a way to more effectively sell its phones, laptops, tablets, and desktop computers.

In April, Apple and IBM expanded an earlier partnership to make it easier for developers to build corporate apps powered with machine learning using Apple’s Core ML coding tools and the Watson data crunching services. The companies pitched their partnership as a way for businesses to create mobile apps for field technicians to do tasks like analyze and discover errors in industrial equipment.

As part of the latest partnership, Salesforce and Apple have already worked to make their Siri and Einstein digital voice assistants work in tandem, Prescott said. Customers using a new version of the Salesforce iOS app will be able to ask Siri to do things like pull up their daily briefings stored in their Salesforce accounts, if those people are using the latest iOS 12 operating system.

Taylor called it a “marriage of Siri and Einstein.” Previously, Salesforce entered into a similar artificial intelligence “marriage” between its Einstein data analytic products and IBM’s Watson data-crunching technology.

Apple will also bundle some of its online curriculum for its Swift programming language onto Salesforce’ online training program Trailhead, which helps customers and others learn how to use and customize Salesforce’s various products. It marks another move by Apple to promote its Swift programming language for building apps.

Apple has been steadily introducing Swift programming courses in U.S. schools and community colleges. By putting Swift curriculum on Salesforce’s Trailhead, it can now spread its influence to workers looking to improve their technical skills while they become better versed in Salesforce products and development tools.

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Prescott said “Trailhead is a successful platform for re-skilling,” which makes it a “great place to put our curriculum on.”

The two companies also co-developed a Salesforce software development kit, or SDK, that is intended to help corporate developers more easily build their own Salesforce-powered apps for iPhones and iPads. Salesforce also created a Trailhead online training app for iOS, Taylor said.