Over the last 12 years, salesforce.com Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff has been on a mission to bring about “The End of Software” and to liberate companies from the shackles of enterprise software.
Under his direction, salesforce.com has not only created an innovative suite of products and a dynamic new business model for its more than 87,200 customers, but the company has also fueled an information technology revolution called cloud computing. In this last year, Benioff not only unveiled more breakthrough technology, but more importantly, he ushered in the next paradigm for enterprise cloud computing, Cloud 2.
In the era of Cloud 2, cloud computing evolves from being only about low cost, fast, and easy to use, to being social, mobile, and open. With Cloud 2, businesses can accelerate their innovation and growth - further distancing themselves from a world held hostage by the huge costs, complex implementations, low customer satisfaction and abysmal adoption rates of enterprise software.
Challenges or opportunities faced by the submitting company
Nearly every technology vendor is now using the cloud mantra. Benioff focused the company on rising above the noise by embracing the shift to the next cloud model, Cloud 2, which is social, mobile and open.
In an oversaturated market where nearly every technology vendor is making its claim to cloud, salesforce.com wanted to distinguish itself from the noise and articulate the customer benefits of its products.
The objective of the communications team was to define and own the conversation around collaboration and to position Chatter, the industry’s first enterprise social collaboration app and platform, as part of a larger industry trend in order to gain mindshare with current and potential customers. In order to do so, salesforce.com identified strategies that would help the new concept resonate with the key influencers in the enterprise software industry as well as the collaboration market.
Throughout 2010, Benioff used a multi-pronged approach to push his vision of Cloud 2 through a variety of channels. He took every opportunity to evangelize his manifesto for the future of enterprise cloud computing.
Benioff started off the year by introducing and defining his vision for Cloud 2 through a series of contributed articles in TechCrunch. He also reinforced this message through additional bylines in influential outlets such as SandHill.com and Fortune.
Company & Industry Events
After making his declaration, Benioff took his message on the road to company events around the world, including San Jose, Tokyo and London. These events enabled Benioff to further educate customers, analysts, media and the general public about Cloud 2. To reach an even broader audience, Benioff echoed Cloud 2 at leading industry events, such as Gartner Symposium, Web 2.0 Summit and GigaOM Net:Work.
Throughout the year, the communications team focused on framing all news, product and customer coverage against the backdrop of Cloud 2. Highlights from the steady drumbeat of articles included customer success stories in Forbes and IDG News that highlighted how salesforce.com products helped businesses be more social, mobile and real-time (all pillars of Marc’s Cloud 2 vision). The coup de grâce was a large feature story in Forbes profiling Benioff and his leading of this revolution.
The communications team strategically took every opportunity to promote contributed articles, speaking appearances and notable media coverage through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to reach people far beyond regular readers or attendees.
To practice what he preached, Benioff also tweeted through his own personal Twitter handle to engage with the community and promote Cloud 2. Notable tweets included “Beware of The False Cloud” and “There is no Cloud in a box” which Benioff famously tweeted during Oracle OpenWorld and sent the industry into a buzz.
Summary of Results
In the last year, under Benioff’s leadership, salesforce.com received recognition for both its technology and vision for the future of enterprise cloud computing from a range of key business and trade outlets, resulting in more than 1,800 pieces of coverage and nearly 27,000 tweets worldwide since its collaboration product, Chatter, was unveiled in November 2009. In addition, the company’s series of thought-provoking contributed articles reached more than 3.7 million people on Twitter, according to BackType.
• TechCrunch: “The Facebook Imperative” [February 24, 2010]
• SandHill.com: “2020: I See It Clearly - Through the Clouds” [March 2, 2010]
• Techcrunch: “The Facebook Imperative Cannot Be Stopped” [March 10, 2010]
• Techcrunch: “Hello, iPad. Hello, Cloud 2.” [March 29, 2010]
• Fortune: “The end of Microsoft. A door opens to a new cloud.” [April 29, 2010]
• Cloudforce San Jose [June 22, 2010]
• Cloudforce Tokyo [October 5, 2010]
• Cloudforce London [September 8, 2010]
• Dreamforce [December 2010]
• Google Atmosphere [April 12, 2010]
• GigaOM Structure [June 23, 2010]
• Oracle OpenWorld [September 22, 2010]
• Gartner Symposium [October 19, 2010]
• Web 2.0 Summit [November 17, 2010]
• GigaOM Net:Work [December 9, 2010]
Notable Media Coverage:
• Associated Press: “CEO Interview: Salesforce.com's Eclectic Leader” [July 11, 2010]
• Forbes: “Success With Saleforce.com's Chatter” [August 19, 2010]
• Fortune: “Salesforce.com’s cloud strategy” (video) [August 19, 2010]
• IDG News Service: “Cloud services spur mobile enterprise apps” [October 28, 2010]
• Forbes: “Salesforce.com: The Web's Big Upstart” [November 18, 2010]
• Forbes.com, America's Fastest-Growing Tech Companies– salesforce.com
• Fortune, 100 Fastest-growing companies, salesforce.com
• Fortune, Business Person of the Year, #18: Marc Benioff
Notable Tweets (from Marc’s personal handle – @benioff):
Tweeted during Oracle OpenWorld in response to Larry Ellison’s promotion of the private cloud:
• “Beware of The False Cloud” [September 19, 2010]
• “#oow10 Fun presenting OracleWorld. A cloud is many things---easy, efficient, low cost---but it is NOT a box! There is no cloud in a box.” [September 22, 2010]