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Salesforce Changes Viewpoint Again, What’s Going On????

Salesforce, the granddady of them all in Cloud Computing, has shifted Viewpoints again.

On August 31st of 2011, Salesforce announced the “Social Enterprise”  -” Our social enterprise vision fundamentally changes how companies collaborate, share and manage information,” said Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO, salesforce.com. “By creating social customer profiles, employee social networks, customer social networks and product social networks, companies can delight their customers in entirely new ways.”  

At the time, many of us thought hmmmm, are Salesforce’s customers really in tune with this.  I was willing to cut them some slack as I saw this as a try to create some space now that the “end of software” really was no longer effective context for their Viewpoint to be impactful.   At the height of Social media buzz, Salesforce was saying to customers, “Social is the future and we will get you there”.

Now, just 18 months later, it appears that the “Social Enterprise” has made way for “The Customer Company” .  Announced this month, Salesforces boilerplate now reads:

“Founded in 1999, salesforce.com is the enterprise cloud computing leader. Salesforce.com’s social and mobile cloud technologies enable companies to transform into customer companies by connecting with their customers, employees, partners and products in entirely new ways. Based on salesforce.com‘s real-time, multitenant architecture, the company’s apps and platform revolutionize the way companies sell, service, market and innovate.”
So what’s going on here?  Here what I think.  First, it’s clear, that the end of software was not meaningful.  But I think this new shift confirms that “The Social Enterprise” just didn’t resonate with customers.  I think it’s because it was WAY too Salesforce centric, and just didn’t mesh with the day to day reality of the customer’s world.  While there may be a shift in enterprise computing to “Social”, it’s not keeping Salesforce’s customers up at night or getting them excited to get out of bed.  At the end of the day, “The Social Enterprise” was more aligned with Salesforce’s product and corp dev roadmap than it was with customer thinking.

This brings us to “The Customer Company”.  In the KJR Viewpoint Framework, Salesforce is trying to move from a “Better Mousetrap” to a “Brave New World” , if you leverage us, you can become a Customer Company.   Salesforce rode “The End of Software” through more than a decade of growth, an IPO and stunning success.  Staying at the leading edge of Viewpoint is not easy, and at scale, Act 2 is much harder than Act 1.  The Customer Company is try number 2. I think this is a step in the right direction.  However, it still seems focused on what Salesforce WANTS their customers to become versus what they BELIEVE THEY NEED to become.  Time will tell.

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