Salesforce's Benioff talks Facebook, LTE and more

Marc Benioff spoke candidly about the future of Salesforce and his thoughts about other growing Silicon Valley movements.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

SAN FRANCISCO -- Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff has stuck by his social revolution rhetoric for some time now, and while he doesn't often stray from it (if ever), the executive did take some time to address other big tech topics at Dreamforce '12.

See also on CNET: Salesforce.com's Marc Benioff preaches the social enterprise gospel

Here's a glance at some of Benioff's thoughts shared during the Q&A session with press and analysts on Wednesday afternoon:

What are things Salesforce.com should be doing differently to go from $3 billion to $10 billion in annual revenue? I don't know if we're going to be able to avoid the pitfalls. I do think that, for us, we have to do things like you saw today. If you compared today's presentation to Dreamforce five years ago, we're telling stories. We're talking to customers in their own language. We're trying to approach the customer in a more sophisticated way. That is very much a transformation that is paramount for us. If we can't talk to the customer in their own language, we're going to struggle.

Is Salesforce.com just building Facebook for the enterprise? We've been using that phrase now for quite a few years. For us, what we see is that Facebook is the most popular application on the planet. There are a billion people who are on this thing, and more than half of them have logged into, which is pretty incredible. I think all software is going to look Facebook, not just ours. Everyone is going to have to re-write to have a feed-based platform because this what users have been trained to do and be productive with. There needs to be enterprise analog.

Why will social approach to CRM work? It's all about adoption. You have to get customers to use the product. First-generation CRM technology had low-adoption rates and was much more difficult. to use. The current generation of CRM technology is much simpler. But the answers are going to be with the customers.

Transforming mantra from social enterprise to social revolution: In the United Kingdom, social enterprise had a different connotation than it does in the United States. But we kept using it here. So the argument was presented to me to change it, and I agreed with it. I don't think that's risky. I think that was the right business decision for us.

Will the power of social revolution transform cultural beliefs about privacy or will there be a backlash? All of those things are probably true. I think that the current generation of leadership that's in place today was not raised on this technology, so these issues are new them in many cases. But if you look at how youth behave on these social networks, it's totally different. When this generation gets into office, I think it will have a huge impact on policy.

On Facebook's IPO: With Facebook, I wouldn't judge a company based on its IPO. I think what they've done in eight years is exceptional. I think they went public too late. You can't dismiss a company that has one billion users. It bodes well for their future as a company.

On HTML5 mobile apps: All technology companies will be moved to this dynamically driven HTML5 capability if they have very sophisticated applications with high levels of meta-data, like ours. This HTML5 strategy that we're executing will be received extremely well by customers.

On Chatterbox and competing with Box, Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive: I think that it's critical today for platforms to have this type of next-generation file management. We've been doing file management on our platform for a long time. It needs to be modern and stay up to date with others.

About needing broadband technology to run socially-connected platforms: We're going to be moving into an LTE generation, and everything is going to be wireless. When you have an iPad or some other mobile device, you're more than able to run an enterprise off of these services.

On Sir Richard Branson's fireside chat: For these interviews, I try to be loosely prepared. I don't have any notes. I just ask questions that are somehow linked together about where the interviewee is trying to go. If I can get to that place, I'm satisfied. But I don't always get there. I think we got lucky with Richard that he let us go to so many places.

About Dreamforce: This conference to me needs to be what Steve Jobs has always been to me. That means it needs to be as visionary and inspirational and paint the future as much as possible.

More Dreamforce '12 coverage on ZDNet:

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