Benioff Cranks Up Dreamforce Expectations
Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff pumped up excitement over Dreamforce 2012 in a frank interview with Michael Arrington that included some new product hints and colorful comments about the competition: "Google has squandered the enterprise opportunity," for example, and about vacationing in Hawaii, "as long as [Oracle CEO Larry Ellison] is not on the same island I'm on, it's OK with me."
09/13/12 5:00 AM PT
With Salesforce.com's Dreamforce 2012 conference ready to kick off next week, there is little doubt the company has several new products ready to debut. Just in case, though, CEO Marc Benioff made sure the CRM world would be primed for the news.
In a wide-ranging interview with TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington at TechCrunch Disrupt on Tuesday, Benioff -- between discourses on his personal philosophy and amusing anecdotes about his adventures with Tony Robbins -- dropped a few hints.
For starters, Salesforce.com will be launching new products at Dreamforce that will be enterprise versions of Dropbox and Okta.
Chatterbox and Salesforce.com Identity
The products are called "Chatterbox" and "Salesforce.com Identity."
Chatterbox, like Dropbox, is a collaboration tool, albeit one for the enterprise. Identity aims to do what Facebook and Google are trying to accomplish -- that is, to serve as a single sign-on to social media. In this case, Salesforce.com will be the hub to manage other enterprise applications.
Benioff also referred to a human resource tool Salesforce.com will unveil -- Work.com -- and a contact management tool that will track information about a contact on Twitter or elsewhere on social media, link back to the customer support database, create a case, and then escalate it as necessary.
Benioff said he personally has seen the need for that sort of tool as he often is tweeted for help by customers he may not recognize by their Twitter handles. Also expected at Dreamforce is a new product called "Marketing Cloud."
Benioff's explanation for this wide-ranging array of tools?
"Opportunities in the social front office are emerging even greater than I anticipated," he said.
Controlling the Keys to the Enterprise
Some of the details disclosed in the interview may have come as a surprise even to regular Salesforce.com watchers, said Jeffrey M. Kaplan, managing director of THINKstrategies, though Benioff's trademark openness was a given.
"He has been dropping more hints than ever about the various ways Salesforce.com intends to expand its footprint in the enterprise," Kaplan told CRM Buyer.
The Salesforce.com Identity tool is particularly intriguing, he continued. "It will be interesting to see which partners will take advantage of this functionality."
The company that controls the single sign-on, Kaplan said, will have a tremendous influence on what sits behind the door in terms of Software as a Service capabilities.
The next time Benioff tips his hand about Salesforce.com, Kaplan is betting it will be about the back office instead of the front office.
"You can bet his ultimate goal or grand vision is to move into the back office as well next -- and while I don't think they will make bold statements about that at Dreamforce, you never really know."