Benioff Evangelizes the Social Enterprise

By Robert J. Mullins  |  Posted 2012-09-19 Print this article Print

"In one system, I can collaborate with my peers, I can listen to the social Web, I can engage in a one-to-one [conversation] or on a one-to-many basis. We can publish all of the content and can create the next generation of advertising, which is using the voice of our customer, not our own," said Brett Queener, executive vice president of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud unit.

SaaS Competition Heating Up in the Market

Salesforce has pioneered the business of SaaS since it was created in 1999 as an alternative to software that businesses purchased and installed on their corporate networks. But today, traditional on-premise-based software companies like Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and others have developed their own SaaS offerings and also adapted their enterprise business applications to the social networking era.

Such competition is to be expected as the market for business software delivered over the Internet is estimated to be worth $49 billion in 2012, up 25 percent from last year, according to a Sept. 10 Forrester Research report.

Microsoft in June announced plans to acquire enterprise social networking company Yammer for $1.2 billion, which would compete against Chatter. Oracle, meanwhile, acquired RightNow Technologies in 2011 for $1.5 billion, which markets cloud customer service and support applications. In turn, SAP acquired SuccessFactors to deliver CRM software in the cloud while adding some social networking capabilities.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff spent a good portion of his keynote address evangelizing about Salesforce and the "social enterprise" that the company's SaaS products enable.

"Our core mission is to help you, our customers, to connect to your customers in a whole new way," Benioff said as he strolled through the Moscone Center audience wearing a gray suit and athletic shoes. The keynote was streamed live online on Salesforce's Facebook page, while a live Twitter feed of comments scrolled by.

Might Be Largest IT Conference Ever in SF 

Benioff said that Dreamforce X had signed up about 90,000 registrants, which, if true, is far and away the highest-attended IT conference in the long history of Bay Area tech events. In the past, the largest conferences have attracted between 30,000 and 40,000 people to the Moscone Center.

Of course, those 90,000 people are not all on-site at the same time. Many are attending on one-day passes. Dreamforce started the evening of Sept. 18 and will continue through the rest of the week.

Benioff shared the stories of several companies who are using Salesforce to run their businesses, including the manufacturing giant General Electric, the French sports gear maker Rossignol, video game maker Activision, Facebook and Coca-Cola.

Benioff interviewed executives of some of those companies as they sat in the audience, including George Zimmer, CEO of Men's Wearhouse, a chain of men's apparel stores, who is known for appearing in his company's TV commercials. During his brief interview with Benioff, he delivered a variation of his famous tagline.

"You're going to like the way Salesforce works. I guarantee it," Zimmer told Benioff in his trademark gravelly voice.

Chris Preimesberger, eWEEK Editor of Features and Analysis, contributed to this article.


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