Salesforce chief: Enterprise tech lacks innovation

Consumer tech makers such as Twitter are setting the pace in the workplace, Marc Benioff says as Salesforce announces social-networking app Chatter Mobile
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

Enterprise technology is lagging consumer technology in terms of innovation, according to Salesforce.com chief executive Marc Benioff.

Mainstream social-networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter are having an impact on the way people work that is not being matched by older technology companies, for example, said Benioff. The Salesforce chief was talking to ZDNet UK on Wednesday at the Cloudforce conference in London, where the company introduced an update to its own social-networking tool Chatter.

"The reality is this industry is transforming and that companies that don't transform will be left behind," Benioff said. "IBM is still selling mainframes, Microsoft is still selling Windows software, but they're not leading innovation and they're not creating new markets. Companies are either leading or protecting cash-cow monopolies."

Benioff's comments echoed the theme of his keynote speech at Cloudforce, which is aimed at customers of Salesforce's cloud-based customer-relationship management (CRM) software.

Some enterprise technology applications and companies are "a lot like a computer history museum," Benioff told the audience. "Consumers and kids out of college are coming to companies saying, 'What is this green screen? What is this blue screen? Haven't you guys heard of Facebook?'"

At the conference, Salesforce announced Chatter Mobile, which allows people to interact with their Chatter accounts from smartphones and other mobile devices. The mobile app arrives two months after the launch in June of Chatter, which adds a social-networking component to Salesforce's software.

Customers will be able to monitor Chatter feeds, post updates to colleagues, and collaborate online via their mobiles via Chatter Mobile, said Salesforce.com product marketing vice president Kraig Svensrud. In addition, iPad and iPhone touch technology will let users perform actions such as opening documents with a flick of their fingers, while users will also be able to share photos, he said.

Chatter Mobile will be released for the iPhone, the iPad, BlackBerry and the new iPod Touch later in 2010, while a version for Android devices is scheduled to arrive in the first half of 2011. It will be free of charge to businesses with user subscriptions to Salesforce CRM and Force.com, the company said.

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