Marc Benioff is a great showman, salesman and speaker. His annual show, Salesforce.com’s DreamForce, has become the show to attend for application software buyers globally. Last week's event was a high-energy affair chock full of product announcements, glowing customer testimonials and more.
Marc's keynote often sets the standard for what other vendors’ user conferences should aspire towards – but don’t achieve. Salesforce.com is simply too far out in front of the mainstream application software marketplace with their multi-tenant cloud applications, a PaaS (platform-as-a-service) called force.com, a huge ecosystem of software partners that have created applications on the platform (e.g., three ERP product lines alone), a Java developer platform (i.e., VMForce), cloud database solutions and much more. His competitors are late digesting last decade’s (and older) acquisitions and have only recently ‘discovered’ the cloud.
This year, Marc reinforced the “business is social” theme by bringing in a veritable who's who of CEOs to discuss how their firm is reaching new buyers via new media. These conversations showed how businesses are marketing, conducting commerce and more through the use of unstructured data, via the Internet and through new kinds of systems not found in more mainstream ERP product lines. These CEO discussions also showed a widening gap between the companies that get social and those that don't.
This gap will widen more by next year. And to give all of us an insight into how the market will change next year and how big the gap will get, let's take a look at what Marc Benioff might talk about at next year’s DreamForce event:
“WOW - it’s really great being here at the Moscone Center once again for another amazing DreamForce event. Over the next three or four days, you'll hear from an amazing collection of speakers talking about the amazing Salesforce.com products and how they transform their businesses into mobile, social and cloud powered juggernauts.”
(Note: For the sake of brevity, we've removed the next 1,043 usages of the word “amazing”)
“Last year, in 2012, we told you that business is social. We showed you how human resources can be social through our new work.com product. We told you that salesforce.com would soon experience a 1 billion transactions per day event. And, I'm happy to report that we not only met the challenge but we’re now currently exceeding 1.3 billion transactions per day on a regular basis.
But this morning, I really want to focus on the business -- the business of your firm. I want you to get comfortable while I articulate a vision we see rapidly coming up on businesses everywhere today. This is a vision told in several ‘trinities’.
From our humble beginnings in 1999, we knew that three forces would converge that would fundamentally change business and technology. Those forces were cloud technology, mobile technology and something we didn't fully understand in its entirety in 1999: social technology. These three technologies became the first trinity of truly transformative technology. Today, in 2013, we are proud to announce that salesforce.com has absolutely and totally dominated each of these three computing disciplines individually, but have also delivered solutions that absolutely exploit the best combined characteristics of all three.
The combination is the key to understanding change and change in business. And in our boldest statement to date, now some 14 years after we were founded, we say to you, to our competitors and to the customers to come that salesforce.com has absolutely and unequivocally mastered the opportunities presented by the combination of cloud, mobile and social technologies.
Now, as we look towards the future, a future that I might add that our competitors still cannot grasp as they are still trying to understand the individual technologies of the last decade, we see a new trinity of technology is about to impact the worlds of technology and business. The second trinity is comprised of three things: powerful analytic applications, in-memory database computing capabilities and big data.
I’m sure some of you will be thinking right now, “But wait Marc, hasn’t salesforce.com already been focused on these technologies, too?” You’re right, we have but we did so in a singular not combined fashion. Our Radian6 product has been making sense of the gargantuan volumes of unstructured data found on the Internet, in Twitter streams, Facebook updates, blog posts and more for years. We've been making short work of big data for a long time. But we used it as an adjunct of our core CRM product line. We used it to monitor sentiment analysis among customers. The true opportunity behind this may be far greater than anyone’s initial estimation.
Now, we’re pleased to announce a number of new capabilities will soon help our customers handle a greater variety of big data types like weather information, point of sale transaction data and more. We’re making it easier than ever for every company in this world to integrate, compare and enhance their traditional, internal ERP data with structured and unstructured data regardless of its origin or size of its databases.
Our channel partners are building incredible new optimization programs built on new force.com extensions that will marry this traditional transaction data to the new, big data sources. Businesses will have a better way to understand who to staff and how many people to staff at their retail stores based on current weather forecasts. Companies will be able to look at retail cash sales of their customers’ customers and use those to better plan their inbound supply chain purchases. In short, we will make every salesforce.com customer that utilizes these new second trinity technologies the most competitive and the most profitable companies within their industry vertical.
When we tackled the first trinity of mobile, cloud and social, we saw this as a way to democratize technology, to connect businesses better with their employees and customers and deliver a whole host of other benefits to you. The second trinity will create insights. Insights so amazing, so bold so competitively advantageous that it will create a huge gap between the businesses that do not know how to optimize their operations versus those who measure and understand everything from customer sentiment to buying trends to seasonality changes to potential product defect monitoring and a whole host of other forward-looking opportunities.
The second trinity is about harnessing opportunity. And that's why we're announcing bigopportunitynow.com.
bigopportunitynow.com takes the best capabilities we, our customers and our cadre of partners have created around analytics, in-memory database technology and big data. Think of bigopportunitynow.com as the most awesome executive dashboard you could ever imagine. This technology is monitoring massive amounts of information, news events, commodity price changes, regulations, collections, and so much more. It looks at the explicit and implicit actions of your competitors and highlights for you potential opportunities your firm should be exploiting.
With bigopportunitynow.com, salesforce.com is delivering the innovation your firm needs to compete in this new economy. We are delivering the innovation so that you have the opportunity to exploit the new knowledge needed to win in the ever quickening and competitive global marketplace today.
But the change is not going to stop there.
My business partner, Parker Harris, and I talked about another trinity forming these days. This one is comprised of 4G mobile telephony, ubiquitous telephone and Internet access around the world and the rise of video as a business medium. We believe that virtually every business process is going to be impacted by the rise of these three converging technologies, too.
For example, call centers are something that salesforce.com is intimately familiar with. Our technology has been used in call centers for more than a decade. But, how does the call center world change when customers will be calling in expecting a full motion video to full motion video telephone call?
I believe video will transform every business process and, by extension, every business system. We’ll need new storage and retention protocols to save our video calls not just our emails. We are investigating and experimenting aggressively here as last year’s iPhone 5 and the Android phones are technically ready for this world. So are your customers and suppliers!
I’m committing to you that salesforce.com, the most innovative company in the enterprise software space, will be the first to market with full video enabled applications." (wait for applause….)
"We’re also studying other combinations of technologies that are bit further out still but will undoubtedly change business, competition and software. We’ll share more of that in next year’s DreamForce 2014.
But back to today…."