Salesforce's Benioff: Social revolution creating social divide

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff argued that enterprises need to develop employee, customer, and public social networks to meet the growing social divide.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

SAN FRANCISCO -- The social revolution has created a social divide, according to Salesforce.com CEO and chairman Marc Benioff, while speaking at the Cloudforce Social Enterprise Tour keynote on Thursday morning.

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Much of Benioff's initial rhetoric on Thursday morning was another repeat of Salesforce's social revolution mantra that we've been hearing about since Dreamforce 2011 last August, with Benioff explaining that the social enterprise revolution is unlike anything we've ever seen in IT before.

"The reason why the social revolution is different is because it's bleeding into our society," Benioff said, citing the events of the Arab Spring last year as an example of how sites like Twitter and Facebook played a significant role.

Benioff has built upon this argument by letting the conversation evolve into how this effects people via different connected devices.

"We're moving to an Internet of things," Benioff argued, citing an IDC statistic that there will be a total of 5.3 billion connected devices by 2014. That breaks down to 1.8 billion networked computers and another 3.5 billion networked products ranging from cars to soda machines.

Benioff outlined three guidelines for social enterprises to fill that divide, which basically breaks down to three social networking platforms for three different audiences: employee, customer, and public.

Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry -- one of Salesforce's most regularly touted partners -- concurred with Benioff, explaining that companies must become social enterprises today to keep everyone in touch with their brand.

"If you don't have a social enterprise, I don't know what your business model is in five years," Ahrendts warned. One of the tools that Ahrendts praised most was Salesforce's Chatter enterprise social network for engaging employees.

But Chatter is really just the first step, as Burberry is also developing strategies to reach out to customers and supply chain partners worldwide through social networks.

Salesforce is also trying to flesh out the social enterprise by making nearly every business department more social. One example of this is performance management tool Salesforce Rypple, also introduced on Thursday.

Thus, Benioff posited that people attend the Cloudforce world tour stops because they want to transform both themselves and their companies -- not to mention that they're also attending to look for jobs.

"Salesforce.com has always been about a new technology model and a new business model. But we're also about a new philanthropy model," said Benioff, noting that Salesforce has supported more than 14,000 non-profit organizations.

Salesforce recently celebrated its 13-year anniversary, and Benioff boasted that it was the first cloud company to reach a $3 billion annual run rate for fiscal year 2013.


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