When Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff speaks, it’s worth listening. Why? Because he’s the guy who wields the most power over the future of cloud-based, enterprise-class applications, at least for the moment. Many believe that his vision is what will ultimately become the reality for thousands of IT professionals and millions of daily users.
At Dreamforce 2011, Salesforce.com’s annual conference, Benioff peppered his keynote address with references to a “corporate spring,” echoing the idea of the recent “Arab spring,” in which a wave of democratic fervor swept across the Middle East. His premise, as ZDNet reported, is that “Customers are going to revolt against traditional enterprise software as corporations become more social.”
It’s no surprise Benioff would talk this way, given that the new Chatter add-on to Salesforce.com is designed to bring a sort of social network experience to the day-to-day business grind. He may be getting ahead of himself a bit, but observers are starting to agree that a slew of smaller companies are offering enterprise resource planning (ERP) installations that are more compact, nimble and, yes, social than the big products from vendors such as Oracle and SAP.
Enterprises must become more social, Benioff claims, and he’s the guy to help you get there. Maybe so, but it remains to be seen how “being social” leads to an improved bottom line.