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Salesforce.com CEO: Cloud is yesterday's news, now it's all about social

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20th Jun 2011
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Cloud is dead, long live...what?

"I'm sorry, for those of you who didn't make it into the Cloud...we've moved on!"
So said flamboyant Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff in another attention-grabbing declaration as he opened the Cloudforce conference in Boston last week.
Along with the traditional pops at the likes of Microsoft and Private Clouds ("the screen scrapers of this generation"), Benioff's pitch this time was that while Cloud may not have had its day, it's time to start thinking in terms of “the social enterprise” and of companies using public and private social networks and social applications to run their business.
"We want to welcome you to the social revolution," Benioff said. "Because this is where people are increasingly spending their time today. Our employees are social and our customers are social. It's a new concept for us as a company. It's a new concept for us as an industry. This is the defining concept for our industry over the next few years."
To support his argument, Benioff cited beverage company Gatorade, which operates its own social media centre to monitor social networks for references to Gatorade products. "They realise their brand has become a series of real-time conversations, not memories of past advertisements."
The world needs to be move away from the concept of investing time and money in developing functionally over-rich corporate websites, advised Benioff. "It was a great pitch 20 years ago, but our industry doesn't stand still,” he argued. “Social sites are where your customers are spending time more and more each day."
Three steps to the social enterprise
According to Benioff, there are three steps for businesses to become "a social enterprise."
First make use of social networks like Facebook and Twitter. This is the basic religious conviction.
Second is create private social networks for employees, partners and customers . This would be where Salesforce.com's own Chatter offering comes into play.
Thirdly, develop social networking capabilities for enterprise applications. If you're doing this, you're going to need development tools such as Salesforce.com's Heroku.
All of which confirms that Salesforce.com's development and acquisition strategies are working in tandem with its marketing machine: set up the goals and expectation, convince the masses of what they want, then have the tools to hand to meet the demand you've just generated.
But have we really moved beyond Cloud already? Surely Benioff, the great Cloud evangelist, wasn't serious on that one? But he insists: "Salesforce.com was born Cloud, but we were reborn social."

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