Salesforce is kicking off its new year with an event on Tuesday at New York’s fabled Waldorf Astoria in which CEO Marc Benioff will introduce a refinement of an idea he’s been talking about for many months.
For a long time the company has been using messaging about the idea of transforming the enterprise from a late twentieth century, post-manufacturing model to one more focused on the customer. The new messaging will define what it means to be a “customer organization” and while I have no details, I expect that will mean a strong dose of not only the company’s trademark social media infused CRM but most importantly, a focus on a new model. The model should have much to do with applying social technologies in novel ways to existing business processes and to inventing new applications.
Salesforce has behaved much differently from its competition from its inception more than a decade ago. With social technology, it appears to be focused on what I have been calling its “Blue Ocean Strategy” for a long time. But where I have been applying the term to what Salesforce has been doing, I think Salesforce will now be telling its peers and much larger companies, that they can and should do the same thing. Naturally, it will position itself as the leader that can companies with this important transition.
It makes sense. If you look at the companies that Salesforce has enlisted in pilot projects — Toyota, Coca-Cola, General Electric, Burberry’s, and many others — you see a smattering of some very large, sophisticated technology users that take a certain amount of pride in being first adopters. In this case, while customers will certainly benefit from new approaches to customer outreach, the companies themselves will also benefit from improved interactions and the invention of new business approaches mediated by Salesforce’s advanced technology.
The way Salesforce usually introduces a theme is to announce direction and technology at Dreamforce, its annual user conference held in San Francisco in the fall. I am not sure if this is a departure or more of a continuation of the themes announced at last year’s Dreamforce. Regardless, the company is meticulous about hitting the market with multiple iterations of messaging — usually stating direction and then delivering technology on time as promised and finally reminding the market of the advance.
Salesforce has been using a winter event in New York for many years as a way to set direction and this continues its pattern though this may be the most important announcement the company has made in a while.
I have not been briefed yet on the announcements but I have been invited to the event in New York and will report from there and include my analysis of it all on Wednesday and Thursday.