Dreamforce: a conversation with John Wookey about 'work'

John Wookey, EVP Salesforce.com is re-imagining work or rather how work is rewarded and recognised. It is a big vision and one that is worth understanding.

Industry insiders will know that John Wookey, the soft spoken EVP at Salesforce.com is one of the true enterprise legends. With spells at SAP and Oracle working on cloud topics under his belt, Wookey brings a rare depth of experience and understanding to the table. He is also a charming person with whom it is always a pleasure to spend time.

Arriving at Dreamforce, I knew that the HR/HCM message would get something of a social makeover and that Marc Benioff, CEO Salesforce.com would introduce Aneel Bhusri, co-CEO Workday on the main stage. I saw this as an important part of the overall conference especially since there has been much confusion and speculation around whether Salesforce.com would go into the HR space. That is NOT happening - at least not in the HR admin space where Wookey acknowledges Workday is doing a great job. Plus the small fact that building HR admin is a multi-year project for which Salesforce.com has little appetite. 

Instead, the vision that Wookey lays out is one I find fascinating. As Rachel King reports :

The bottom line is that the social enterprise/revolution/whatever-you-want-to-call-it concept has a long way to go before it is consider the de facto way of doing business.

Wookey is the first to agree that what he is laying out: a social vision for viewing employees in the same way you do customers - is something that is in the distance and not ready for prime tiome today. I suspect that Yvette Cameron,  analyst with Constellation Research would disagree. We talked about this the other evening, citing the healthcare industry as one crying out for modernisaton and yet where technology as applied in the workplace setting (as opposed to the medical technology itself) is in the Stone Age. 

In the above video, Wookey discusses for example, the socialising of Performance Management where transparent peer review contributes to performance assessment. Although this doesn't quite fit into the Talent Management space, it is clear that's where he would like to see the company go and where anlysts will bucket the company's efforts. I think it is a bit more nuanced than that because Wookey is talking about something that is transformational and not merely additive, or for that matter, particularly competitive with many current offerings. 

As we talked through the company's vision, Wookey acknowledged the roadmap is both skeletal and aspirational. The risk as I see it, is that customers will pull Salesforce.com in many directions. It will be difficult to ensure that customers are satisfied without overwhelming the development teams needed to flesh out the offering over the next 12 months.

As always with these topics, we could have talked much longer. This is a topic I plan to revisit in the coming year. 



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