Salesforce CEO Benioff: 'In a moment of crisis, you need to invest through it'

Work.com is an example of investing in a downturn and now Salesforce.com aims to broaden its reach as a digital transformation engine.

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Salesforce executives were upbeat about the prospects for its Work.com platform, which aims to enable customers to manage the COVID-19 new normal of work, sees the software as an investment that will play well with its broader portfolio.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from Salesforce's earnings conference call was that crisis often leads to innovation. CEO Marc Benioff said:

My personal belief is always that in a moment of crisis, you need to invest through it. Maybe not every company can do that, but a lot of companies surprisingly can. That's why you have to offer a full portfolio of capabilities.

Unlike the 2008 financial crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic is unique and not something companies have seen before. As a result, enterprises are going to accelerate digital transformation efforts. Benioff also noted that Salesforce is seeing strong bookings and pipeline figures even as the company cut its revenue outlook for fiscal 2021 due to the COVID-19 uncertainty.

The new normal is the primary reason for the Work.com launch, which will also benefit from integration with the likes of Workday. Benioff said that Work.com will garner an ecosystem and leverage Salesforce's Customer 360 efforts, Einstein and its various cloud services.

As much of the world is beginning to move now into phase 2 to reopening safely, our Work.com platform is going to fill a huge unmet need. Step-by-step, we're seeing the economy is starting to come back to life. Salesforce is also beginning to reopen its offices, first throughout Asia. It has to be done safely, it's got to be done responsibly and it's going to be a complex process.

Work.com aims to be the command center from everything to protective equipment to contact tracing to response management. In many ways, Work.com will take Salesforce into new areas and be able to leverage everything from MuleSoft to Tableau to Salesforce's clouds. 

Benioff added that Work.com has seen a lot of interest and the Workday integration for employee data will bolster the platform. "In the months ahead, I expect Work.com's ecosystem to rapidly become even more robust with even more relevant solutions. I've had so many of our customers contact us on how they can integrate their own product into Work.com," said Benioff.

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It remains to be seen of a suite like Work.com will be an ongoing platform. Much of demand may depend on whether there will be a COVID-19 vaccine or that the new normal looks like the previous state of work. Either way, Salesforce appears to be making itself more valuable as a digital transformation engine and Work.com illustrates how a massive company can still be nimble.