Share this content

Benioff: "Companies are being screwed by their customers"

5th Apr 2011
Share this content

The CloudForce roadshow rocked up in Paris this week with CEO Marc Benioff bringing his West Coast spin to an event that otherwise was resolutely Gallic in tone and language.

Away from the keynote, which covered off the familiar themes – Chatter, Service Cloud, Sales Cloud, iPad-based demos etc etc – Benioff took questions offline. Some of the choicer responses are catalogued below:

On the current state of competitive landscape:

"The fundamental strings of our industry are being broken. Where is the SAP apps store, the Microsoft apps store, the Oracle apps store – how in 2011 can they not have that? Oracle is selling a next generation mainframe called Exadata. Microsoft is still trying to sell Windows7 and saying 'one day we will have a phone, one day we will have a tablet'. IBM is saying that Lotus Notes 7 has been discontinued. You only need to look at Apple Computer which now has the largest market capitalisation of any technology firm. Microsoft's stock has been flat for ten years. If you bought Microsoft stock ten years ago, you have made no money. Microsoft and the others have been trying to hold this industry hostage for years, but that isn't what our industry is all about. Our industry is about the silent force of innovation where we make things lower cost and easier to use. You either embrace that movement or the movement will embrace you. We are talking about Cloud 2; some companies are still on Cloud Zero."

On the concept of the Hybrid Cloud:

"Hybrid Cloud is a transitional technology – it's like screenscrapers for mainframes. I feel the same about virtualisation. They are both part of the False Cloud."

On the changing nature of customer service:

"There are now lots of examples of situations where customers who are experiencing a service problem are making real time videos of this and saying 'it sucks'. The concept of brand has moved from being a collection of memories to a set of real time conversations. Companies are being screwed by their customers. That was part of the reason for us buying [social media monitoring firm] Radian 6 – it's a social radar for the whole network. All of our customers, including the smallest ones, need that. We are all becoming social enterprises and we need to double down on the social technology. Companies are not deeply integrated into the whole network in the way they need to be. I say to companies 'you have all these friends on Facebook, but are they just islands of information? Do you know what the conversations are that they are having?'. The way customers behave is changing. Customers are grouping themselves together so they can make group decisions."

On the importance of individual contributions to companies:

"You have to value the individual contributors. I don't like organisational charts for the reason that they make it look as though the people at the top are the ones who know the most and that's just not the case – they probably know the least. The best contributors to any company are the individuals. Our chief scientist JP Rangaswami does not have 2,000 people working for him, but he is one of our most critical strategists. When I was at Oracle we just didn't have this. The problem with being a line manager is having to manage the line; individual contributors don't have that."

On why the Cloud doesn't put systems integrators out of business:

"I've heard this for 17 years. Systems integrators won't lose out through the Cloud. You know, [deployments] are Accenture's fastest growing practice globally. Systems integrators have a role to add value. If they become attached to any one technology, then they die. We really can't be successful unless we work with systems integrators. doesn't have a professional services arm. We have a very small technical team, but we need the fundamental strength of Accenture and Capgemini and the regional systems integrators. We're not going to do the heavy blocking and tacklings. So we have not excluded the systems integrators, they're a critical part of where we are as a company."

On serenading Germanic rivals:

"SAP is like a box that you have everything in. SAP says 'we have everything here that you need to have'. That might have been great in 1973 when SAP was founded, but not now. In 1973, Neil Young was singing “Old Man”; that's what I sing to [SAP co-founder] Hasso Plattner now!" 

Replies (0)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

There are currently no replies, be the first to post a reply.