Salesforce CEO Benioff unleashes Salesforce1, cites ‘internet of customers’ future

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

Cloud giant Salesforce has unveiled its new shiny cloud platform Salesforce1 at Dreamforce in San Francisco, with CEO Marc Benioff stressing the ‘internet of customers’ – the importance of the consumer in a cloud, social and mobile world.

“I’ve never been more excited to be part of,” Benioff bellowed to the audience of customers, partners and non-profits.

“In the world of the Internet of Things, it’s really a world of Internet of Customers.

“We need to reassess how we connect with customers in a whole new way,” he added.

In many ways, this wasn’t a speech, more of a performance – none more so than the homage to Back to the Future when explaining the benefits of Salesforce1. The hook of ‘this is what will happen in the future…but wait, it’s available now!’ wins no points for originality, but it nailed the five target areas for Salesforce’s new platform: developers, ISVs, end users, administrators, and customers.

“Developers deserve a new generation of mobile platform, because building mobile apps is hard,” Benioff stressed.

“We could be complacent with our platform, and it’s been a phenomenal effort,” he added. “But the platform needs to go forward, just like all of us. It needs to take advantage of the new world of mobile, social and cloud.”

Hence the importance of customers; as Benioff repeatedly pointed out, behind every Tweet, behind every Facebook message is a customer, a real human being – and it’s easy to forget that.

Whatever the secret sauce is though, it’s worked for Salesforce. The company recently announced its first billion dollar quarter, with Benioff quipping: “It wasn’t that far ago we announced our first billion dollar year.”

The Salesforce CEO also outlined his plans to have a $5bn year in revenue – optimistic, but evidence of real buy-in for Salesforce1. Benioff noted his love of the product, calling it “the best engineering we have ever done.”

This wasn’t the only announcement, of course. Salesforce also announced a strategic partnership with HP, with a product called ‘Superpod’ – Salesforce’s software in HP’s hardware – the apparent fruits of their labours.  

This of course raises one major question – Oracle and Salesforce’s hardware-software partnership, announced back in June, may now have hit the skids, although as Ovum noted, the alliance was “only just above ‘press release-ware’ level”.

But the enduring theme from the morning’s speech was that the customer comes first – and with IDC proclaiming Salesforce to be number one in cloud computing share, Benioff feels at ease in making such statements.

“We’re going through a technology renaissance, based on cloud, based on social, based on mobile,” he explained.

“In our industry we were quick to turn around a term called B2C. Well we’re a consumer company, but in the world of the internet of customers, consumers get transformed into customers, and every company is a customer company.

“When you’re interacting with this level of engagement, you’d better be ready to be a customer company,” he added.

The thought of a company which is genuinely best in class in CRM moving to an even higher plain is a frightening one. But with an interesting partnership with HP, and Salesforce1 laying out the architecture, there’s certainly a case there to say they just might do it.

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