How CEO Marc Benioff Drives Relentless Forward Thinking at Salesforce

Innovation, like creativity, is an amorphous concept. It’s the holy grail of business, but achieving it—even merely explaining it—is lightning-in-a-bottle difficult.

In that way, Salesforce crm is a major outlier. Despite the fact that its products are mundane business productivity tools, Salesforce has nevertheless managed to bake innovation into its very corporate fiber. It’s a company that was innovative in the way it started doing business, in how it sold its products, and in the articulation of its corporate mission.

Indeed, asking cofounder and CEO Marc Benioff, 53, to describe how Salesforce is innovative is a bit like asking Plácido Domingo to hum a few bars of a favorite aria. With little provocation Benioff will rattle off the three ways Salesforce has been a trailblazer since its inception nearly two decades ago. “I think our top three are a ­technology model which is now known as the cloud, the subscription business model, and our 1-1-1 model,” he says, referring to the company’s philanthropic ­commitment to give away 1% each of equity, products, and employee hours.

These now widely copied practices are merely the beginning. Under Benioff’s quirky, obsessive, and dripping-with-chutzpah tactics, Salesforce is as original a product marketer as exists in enterprise (or nonconsumer) technology. It has proved adept at predicting and embracing technology shifts, the latest being an aggressive move into artificial intelligence. Salesforce even innovates in the realm of financial accounting, having waged a multi­year battle to persuade standards boards and regulators to adopt its methods of revenue and expense recognition.

These accomplishments help explain why Salesforce has landed atop the inaugural Fortune Future 50 list of innovative U.S. companies (ranked No. 1 on the “Leaders” list of corporations with a market value above $ 20 billion). Based on analysis by BCG, Salesforce earns its ranking from a variety of factors including Wall Street’s expectations of future growth and public messaging that communicates a future-focused orientation.

Innovation has its limits, of course, and Salesforce has proved adept at supplementing its growth with acquisitions, a tool long available to older rivals like Oracle orcl and SAP. Salesforce acquires companies—it has snapped up 55 since 2006—that are either more innovative or that have pioneered market segments that Salesforce hasn’t yet cracked.

There are plenty of risks to the Salesforce model—with Benioff’s indispensability topping the list. Though the company has a deep management bench, no one disputes the top dog’s singular role. All major decisions are his, and the entire 28,000-person-plus organization caters to his sometimes capricious whims.

Benioff’s outsize role would be less of an issue if he hadn’t already signaled a willingness to let go, namely, his flirtation with selling the company to Microsoft two years ago. (No deal materialized.) Benioff himself doesn’t discount the possibility that he’ll step down as CEO one day. Asked the likelihood of his being in the top job for another 30 years, he says, in reference to the many social causes he champions: “I don’t think it’s very high, because I really feel the pull of the world on me. The world has more challenges than ever.” Benioff says he spends 95% of his time on Salesforce, and “5% is on a lot of the issues and things that are really important to me. I think at some point that will shift a little bit more where I’ll want to spend more time directly working on those causes.”

But Benioff isn’t quite ready to call it a day at Salesforce. There are still too many potential customers to woo.


Salesforce employees are so immersed in the fervor over their offerings and their unique workplace that they are nearly incredulous to learn that few people beyond the legions of customers using Salesforce’s product have the faintest idea what the company does. San Franciscans, at least, are well aware of Benioff’s personal largesse and Salesforce’s corporate generosity: Together, the CEO and his company have given away hundreds of millions of dollars to fund schools, hospitals, and a myriad of causes. And they certainly know about Salesforce Tower, the soon-to-be-completed 1,070-foot skyscraper that will be San Francisco’s tallest and is already visible for miles outside the city.

As for its products, Salesforce started with an application that helps salespeople track their clients and their managers measure their progress. That sort of thing had existed, but Salesforce innovated by putting its product online and letting customers pay by the month. This lowered technology costs for buyers and also diminished the risk of purchasing the wrong software. Over time the company built or acquired applications for customer-service workers, marketers, and companies who sell goods and services online. It’s all the nuts-and-bolts stuff of business, but configured for the Digital Age. “They took existing markets and made them cool,” says Brent Thill, a research analyst with the investment firm Jefferies who followed Salesforce for years.

As a company, Salesforce moves fast, a shift from the traditional providers of software to “enterprises,” or big-business customers, whose product updates typically were measured in years. “We ship a new version every four months,” says Alex Dayon, the company’s chief product officer. This means every customer always is using the latest version of the software, a high bar in an industry used to a patchwork quilt of software generations and sporadic updates. “It’s our secret sauce,” says Dayon, a Frenchman who joined Salesforce in an acquisition nine years ago. “No one else can update hundreds of millions of users three times a year.”

Another crucial part of Salesforce’s formula is aggressive marketing, which it has been doing since its inception. Parker Harris, the company’s chief technology officer and a cofounder, recalls the company’s introductory “end of software” marketing campaign, an elaborate misdirection stunt suggesting that because Salesforce was selling software as a service rather than in a package, it wasn’t selling software at all. The company hired actors to stage fake protests at conferences hosted by a competitor. Prospective customers challenged Salesforce, arguing that it, too, sold software but in a different format. “At that point we had them, because we had engaged them in the conversation,” says Harris.

The lavish spending on marketing has an impact on Salesforce’s bottom line. For years it rang up net losses. But the tactics also have fueled the company’s growth. As an example, Benioff has been a longtime acolyte of Klaus Schwab, the German business academic who founded the World Economic Forum and helped popularize the “stakeholder” theory of business, that shareholders aren’t the only constituency that matters for business success. Schwab’s ideals appealed to Benioff, who proceeded to spend many millions of dollars to become a key partner of Schwab’s forum. The result: Salesforce punched way above its weight in “thought leadership” in the influential global organization, a status that opened doors for sales to the kinds of companies that were otherwise reluctant to buy from an unproven upstart.

Persuading customers to use their software—as well as teaching them how—is often a challenge for nonconsumer technology companies. Salesforce takes a predictably unconventional approach. It spends extravagantly on its annual Dreamforce developers conference in San Francisco, an event that is as likely to include a performance by a magician or rock star as its many software tutorials.

Yet Salesforce has topped itself recently by designing a whole new “design vocabulary,” as Benioff calls it, for educating users. The challenge, says Sarah Franklin, who heads developer relations, is, “How do you skill everyone up on what we do?” The solution, which she credits to a game-happy “evangelist” on her staff, was to create an elaborate online training program that draws inspiration from the U.S. national park system. Franklin called the program “Trailhead,” and the people who use it, Salesforce’s cherished customers, “Trailblazers.”

It’s all a bit hokey but nonetheless effective in persuading customers and developers—some 500,000 of whom have given it a try so far—to earn badges signifying completed training classes. Franklin says she conceived of the program, which at great expense would change the entire look and feel of the company’s public profile, after a conversation with Benioff. Unable to sleep that night, she picked up her phone and typed a manifesto, which she sent to Benioff. In the morning he replied, “Approved. Aloha, Marc.”


Benioff and his family spend as much time as they can on the Big Island of ­Hawaii. Each major Salesforce building has an “Ohana” floor, a community space named for the Hawaiian word for family, which Benioff wants every Salesforce employee, customer, and partner to feel a part of. It is fitting, then, that at least where the CEO is concerned, Salesforce operates on a corporate version of “island time.” Meetings with Benioff start and end whenever he’s ready.

I learn this firsthand on the day I arrive to interview him. (As a fellow San Franciscan, I’ve known Benioff for years.) I’d been invited to arrive 90 minutes early to tour the nearly completed Salesforce Tower with Benioff—a thrilling opportunity to view the Bay Area from the 62nd floor of a building whose windows haven’t yet been installed. He didn’t show up for the tour, though we did have lunch across the street at another Salesforce building afterward. When we finally sit down, it’s clear the agenda is his, not mine. He takes me through the working-document version of the keynote presentation he’ll give at Dreamforce in about two months. I see how Benioff hones his message, trying out lines as Leandro Perez, a product marketing executive, takes notes on Benioff’s riffs. (Perez, whose official role is “corporate messaging and content,” says: “We make sure our executives are spreading the message consistent with Marc’s.”)

Taking into account Benioff’s tweaks, this is the 86th version of the presentation, on its way to about 150 in total. It hits all the company’s key messages including its core values (trust, growth, innovation, and equality) and explains the three “chapters” of the company’s history: the cloud (1999–2009), the customer (2009–2017), and the Age of Intelligence (2018–).

We run out of time before I get to ask a single question.

A week later Benioff FaceTimes me from Hawaii, where he’s taken a long weekend, and patiently allows me to direct the flow of the conversation. He proudly reflects on Salesforce’s accomplishments. He calls Joe Allanson, the company’s longtime controller, “the cloud industry’s unsung hero” for working with accounting standards boards to allow for the deferred recognition of sales commissions—an arcane but important maneuver that enables subscription-model software companies to more accurately reflect the reality of their finances in their accounting. Benioff notes that 3,000 companies have adopted Salesforce’s 1-1-1 philanthropic model. He also pays homage to Amazon, an early inspiration for the type of consumer experience Salesforce aims to deliver. He unabashedly notes that Salesforce’s earliest versions were copies of Amazon’s user interface. The goal, he says, was to “build an enterprise app that looks, feels, talks, and walks like Amazon, because they are not training anybody to use their website, and we want to build software that’s not going to be like the current generation of enterprise software.”

Benioff is as sui generis as they come, yet he credits a diverse set of influences. From Schwab, he took the concept of “stakeholders” as opposed to only shareholders. Larry Ellison, his first boss, motivated Benioff by helping him see the value of new ideas, even if “working for Larry was at times psychological warfare.” And he has learned the value of being inquisitive from a guru of self-improvement: “My friend Tony Robbins says the quality of your life is created by the quality of your questions.”

More than anything, perhaps, Benioff values his own intuition. Salesforce engineers didn’t understand his devotion to social media, especially when he asked them to create Chatter, an in-house messaging tool for Salesforce’s applications. They complied, though, and the move gave Salesforce a consumer-oriented edge.

Similarly, Benioff explains the company’s move into artificial intelligence as his realization that “a lot was happening in A.I. But I also realized it wasn’t clear what Salesforce’s role in A.I. was. That’s when we started acquiring quite a few artificial intelligence companies, maybe a dozen.” That’s also when, according to Benioff, the owner of the website Einstein.com contacted him out of the blue and offered to sell it. To Benioff, it was a sign. “Right then I’ll always say to myself, ‘Why is somebody doing that?’ And then I’ll have an intuitive response: ‘This could be our A.I. brand.’ ” Today, Einstein is the Salesforce-branded product that’s integrating machine learning and other A.I.-related technologies into the rest of the company’s offerings.


For all of Salesforce’s uniqueness, a nagging criticism has crept up internally and externally. As the company grows, it begins to look and act ever so slightly more like the Goliath to which Salesforce has always played David: Larry Ellison’s Oracle. Like Oracle, Salesforce has become an acquisitions machine, prompting some to suggest the company overpays to make up for its own shortcomings. “The question I hear most from investors is, ‘Is this the modern-day Oracle?’ ” says Brent Thill, the analyst. “ ‘Can they grow without acquisitions?’ ” (Investors weren’t pleased last year when Benioff explored buying Twitter after bidding against Microsoft for LinkedIn. He backed off on the former and lost out on the latter.)

The seeming proof of Salesforce’s incipient Oracle-ness is the presence of president, vice chairman, and chief operating officer Keith Block, a 26-year veteran Oracle sales executive before joining Salesforce four years ago. In many ways the buttoned-down yin to Benioff’s Hawaiian-shirt-wearing yang, Block says Salesforce isn’t like any other company he’s seen, including during his days as a Booz Allen management consultant. “We’re not diluted by servers and storage,” he says, a knock on Oracle. “We’re not diluted by games,” he adds, a reference to Microsoft’s Xbox franchise.

Yet almost inevitably Salesforce partners talk about the company with equal parts reverence and fear. A company doesn’t get to $ 10 billion in revenues without stepping on a few toes. “Salesforce is like the rose-colored version of Amazon,” says a venture capitalist who invests in companies that compete with Salesforce. Examples abound of Salesforce making moves that rival Amazon’s legendarily cold-blooded tactics. It pushed aside onetime partner Marketo, for instance, by buying ExactTarget, whose product line included Pardot, a direct competitor. Similarly, pricing software startup Apttus had been a key Salesforce partner, which didn’t stop Salesforce from buying an ­Apttus competitor called SteelBrick—even as Salesforce’s corporate venture arm invested in Apttus.

Salesforce acknowledges that its own growth is more important than its partners, which it excuses by playing the honesty card. “I have seen this movie in a prior life,” says Block, alluding to his Oracle days. “We need to be transparent. We need to publish road maps of where we’re going.” Block is looking after another big-company aspect to Salesforce’s growth, the need to add systems that can take the company from $ 10 billion in revenue to $ 20 billion. “I think we can have our cake and eat it too,” he says. “We can be a different Fortune 100 company. We can think differently, but with operational discipline.”

Then there’s the question of how long Benioff stays around. In spring 2015 reports surfaced that Microsoft offered to buy Salesforce. Benioff characterizes the ensuing talks as being merely a public company’s fiduciary responsibility to listen to acquisition offers. He reportedly asked for more than Microsoft was willing to pay.


I meet with Benioff one last time for this article as he answers a few questions on video and prepares to have his photograph taken for Fortune’s cover. Since he first ran through his Dreamforce presentation for me the previous week he’s presented versions of it to customers in Atlanta and Los Angeles. Like a comedian testing an act in small clubs leading up to a large-venue gig, he plans to repeat the performance multiple times before his keynote address in San Francisco the first week of November.

We meet on the “Ohana” floor of Salesforce East, the office tower kitty-corner from the new Salesforce Tower. On what ought to be a stunningly sunny mid-fall day, San Francisco’s skies are clogged with smoke from the devastating wildfires still raging in Napa and Sonoma counties north of the city. Making small talk before we start, Benioff tells me he’s tired. His family has just adopted a rescue kitten, and there is much excitement—and too little sleep—in the Benioff household.

As it happens, Benioff tells me, the 7-month-old, gray-black Siamese already had a name, given by his original owners. They called the kitten “Cloud.” This was before anyone could have any idea this little animal was headed for a glamorous life in the home of a billionaire who made his fortune selling software online—what became known as the cloud. The story is too good to be true, and I tell Benioff with mock derision that I don’t believe him. That evening he sends me an email with the subject line “Proof.” Attached is a photo of the sign that hung outside Cloud’s cage at the shelter, verifying his pre-adoption name.

Some things just can’t be explained. Not even by Marc Benioff.

A version of this article appears in the Nov. 1, 2017 issue of Fortune with the headline “Benioff in Bloom.”

Tech

Working with a Salesforce consultant: Understanding the process

This set of questions is designed to help you evaluate the suitability of a Salesforce.com (SFDC) consultancy. It is not intended as a questionnaire for the consultancy to fill out in the RFP.  Instead, use the questions conversationally so you can see their flinches and know where to probe.

Since client requirements vary, there’s no single “correct” set of answers to these questions. Instead, score the vendors on how closely they fit your organizational needs and corporate IT style—and no firm is going to get a perfect score (be happy if you find a “solid B+”).

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

CIO Cloud Computing

15 questions for screening a Salesforce Platform Cloud consultant

The Platform Cloud covers a very wide range of custom development and integration projects.  Some parts of advanced Sales and Service Cloud projects include elements of the platform, so most consultancies’ have reasonable levels of general experience.  However, the Platform Cloud has the widest range of third-party products and add-ons, so you will need to drill down on their specific experience. 

This brief set of questions is designed to help you evaluate the suitability of a Salesforce.com (SFDC) consultancy. It is not to be used as a questionnaire for the consultancy to fill out in the RFP.  Instead, use the questions conversationally so you can see their flinches and know where to probe.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

CIO Cloud Computing

20 questions for screening a Salesforce Marketing Cloud consultant

Marketing Cloud projects have not been part of most consultancies’ Salesforce work, so they likely don’t have a lot of general experience.  Further, because of the range of products and add-ons available, there is still an issue of general competence and ability to execute.  And when it comes to marketing business process expertise, you need to set your expectations very low:  they either will be experts in the product or the process, but almost never both. 

This brief set of questions is designed to help you evaluate the suitability of a Salesforce.com (SFDC) consultancy. It isn’t to be used as a questionnaire for the consultancy to fill out in the RFP.  Instead, use the questions conversationally so you can see their flinches and know where to probe.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

CIO Cloud Computing

20 questions for screening a Salesforce Service Cloud consultant

Service Cloud projects have been part of most consultancies’ Salesforce work for years, but because of the range of products and add-ons available, there is still an issue of general competence and ability to execute.  Further, there is a huge range of service models out there, so it is critical that the consultant understand how your service team works.  If the consultant doesn’t get it, the system they build for you will be clunky or just get in the way.

This brief set of questions is designed to help you evaluate the suitability of a Salesforce.com (SFDC) consultancy. It is not meant to be delivered as a questionnaire for the consultancy to fill out in the RFP.  Instead, use the questions conversationally so you can see their flinches and know where to probe.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

CIO Cloud Computing

25 questions for screening a Salesforce Sales Cloud consultant

Sales Cloud projects are the bread-and-butter of most consultancies’ Salesforce.com work, so there probably isn’t an issue of general competence and ability to execute.  However, there is a huge range of business models and sales channels out there, and it is critical that the consultant understand how your sales function works, and the difference between one of your profit-driving deals and a break-even “sustainer.”  If the consultant doesn’t get it, the system they build for you will be clunky or just get in the way.

This brief set of questions is designed to help you evaluate the suitability of a Salesforce.com (SFDC) consultancy. It is not meant to be delivered as a questionnaire for the consultancy to fill out in the RFP.  Instead, use the questions conversationally so you can see their flinches and know where to probe.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

CIO Cloud Computing

Salesforce takes another swing at Microsoft with chatbot building tools

Companies have another set of tools at their disposal to build chatbots. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has begun touting a new LiveMessage service that’s aimed at connecting his company’s Service Cloud with messaging services like Facebook Messenger and SMS.  

Benioff is pitching the new service as a way to turn messaging apps into a user interface for Salesforce, in addition to serving as a tool for connecting people with their friends. It will power bots, in addition to direct communications between service representatives and customers. Right now, LiveMessage works with SMS, and it will be expanded to work on Facebook Messenger later this year.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

InfoWorld Cloud Computing

Salesforce takes another swing at Microsoft with chatbot building tools

Companies have another set of tools at their disposal to build chatbots. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has begun touting a new LiveMessage service that’s aimed at connecting his company’s Service Cloud with messaging services like Facebook Messenger and SMS.  

Benioff is pitching the new service as a way to turn messaging apps into a user interface for Salesforce, in addition to serving as a tool for connecting people with their friends. It will power bots, in addition to direct communications between service representatives and customers. Right now, LiveMessage works with SMS, and it will be expanded to work on Facebook Messenger later this year.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

InfoWorld Cloud Computing

Salesforce will buy Krux to expand behavioral tracking capabilities

Salesforce.com has agreed to buy user data management platform Krux Digital, potentially allowing businesses to process even more data in their CRM systems.

Krux describes its business as “capturing, unifying, and activating data signatures across every device and every channel, in real time.”

Essentially, it performs the tracking underlying behavioral advertising, handling 200 billion “data collection events” on three billion browsers and devices (desktop, mobile, tablet and set-top) each month.

With that staggering volume of data, “Krux will extend the Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s audience segmentation and targeting capabilities to power consumer marketing with even more precision, at scale,” Krux CEO and co-founder Tom Chavez wrote on the company blog.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

CIO Cloud Computing

Salesforce snaps up analytics startup BeyondCore

Salesforce.com has acquired business intelligence and analytics startup BeyondCore, as part of its strategy to make its software more intelligent.

“I am thrilled [to] announce @Salesforce has acquired @beyondcoreinc to enhance the AI capabilities of Analytics Cloud,” wrote Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff in a tweet on Monday.

The financial terms of the deal were not not disclosed.

BeyondCore in San Mateo, California, had already started integrating its product with the Salesforce platform. At the Gartner BI Summit earlier this year, the company showed off this integration, which would be part of its upcoming BeyondCore 7 release, wrote CEO Arijit Sengupta in a blog post.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

CIO Cloud Computing

Salesforce targets ‘citizen developers’ with new tools and training

If there’s an overriding trend in the world of enterprise software lately, it’s democratization, as tools previously reserved for experts are put in the hands of average users. On Tuesday, Salesforce.com climbed on board with new software, training and support services that aim to help more users — not just professional developers — build applications for the Salesforce platform.

There aren’t enough trained developers to create apps for the business world, the company says, so it wants to help users in all parts of the organization make their own. More than 2.8 million developers have already built some 5.5 million apps based on the company’s customer relationship management software, it says, and at its TrailheaDX developer event in San Francisco, it made several announcements to expand that further.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

CIO Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Dive into the Salesforce Consulting Partner program

The Salesforce AppExchange is known to many as the number one application marketplace for businesses, but there is more to it than just apps. The AppExchange also includes the rapidly expanding Salesforce Consulting Partner ecosystem that I covered in my recent post, “The Salesforce ecosystem: A shift on the playing field.”

Today I want to dive deeper into the evolving ecosystem. I reviewed the publicly available information covering roughly 730 consultancy listings on the AppExchange and had informative conversations with the SVP of partner programs at Salesforce, Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh. (All AppExchange information is relevant for May 2016.)

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Computerworld Cloud Computing

Salesforce picks AWS as preferred public cloud provider

Salesforce named Amazon Web Services as its preferred public cloud provider for services like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud and App Cloud, expanding an existing partnership to provide the backend for the software-as-a-service provider.

AWS already hosts several Salesforce services like Heroku, SalesforceIQ and the recently announced IoT Cloud. This latest deal will help Salesforce to expand internationally without having to build its own data centers to comply with local data sovereignty laws. 

That’s important as Salesforce tries to pick up more customers in countries that have strict requirements about where data is stored. Salesforce isn’t the only company to turn to AWS in this capacity: Dropbox will store data with AWS in Germany starting later this year

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Computerworld Cloud Computing

Salesforce picks AWS as preferred public cloud provider

Salesforce has named Amazon Web Services its preferred public cloud provider for services like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud and App Cloud, expanding an existing partnership to provide the backend for the software-as-a-service provider.

AWS already hosts several Salesforce services like Heroku, SalesforceIQ and the recently-announced IoT Cloud. This latest deal will help Salesforce to expand internationally without having to build its own data centers in order to comply with local data sovereignty laws. 

That’s important as Salesforce tries to pick up more customers in countries that have strict requirements about where data is stored. Salesforce isn’t the only company to turn to AWS in this capacity: Dropbox will store data with AWS in Germany starting later this year

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

CIO Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Preparing for a Salesforce implementation

Over the past decade, I have seen more than 1,000 Salesforce implementations deployed to a wide variety of organizations. I have learned that it does not matter if you are a small nonprofit or a Fortune 100 enterprise company — one of the best investments you can make in your Salesforce implementation process is to have a clear plan.

Do Your Homework

You may never be able to debate the merits of Apex code (the programming language that executes on the Salesforce platform), for example, and that’s OK. However, before you start your migration to the cloud, figure out what you want and what is possible. Reach out to other organizations in your sector, consult with volunteers and board members, and read related publications.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Computerworld Cloud Computing

Salesforce users: Big contracts signed early may get you special discounts, but watch out after that

Volume discounts are nothing unusual in the world of enterprise software, but over the last year or so Salesforce reportedly has been approaching customers early about upcoming renewals and wooing them with considerable extra discounts if they sign on ahead of time for the CRM vendor’s full software suite.

That’s according to a report Thursday in The Register, which attributed the information to an anonymous industry source who advises companies about Salesforce licensing.

The discount can be as much as 25 percent on top of Salesforce’s standard volume discount, according to the report. But it’s only available if customers sign up not just for its Sales Cloud but also for Marketing Cloud and consulting services.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

InfoWorld Cloud Computing

How Salesforce & Box are changing the landscape in regulated industries

Sarah is a tech blogger and researcher focused on cloud and enterprise. You can follow her here.

With an aim to encourage the adoption of cloud CRM solutions in regulated industries, Salesforce recently announced the launch of a new platform called Salesforce Shield, which came shortly after Box introduced the general availability of Box Governance. Like Shield, it also focuses on ensuring cloud customers meet legal, regulatory and business policies regarding data storage and transfer.

For organizations that operate in the healthcare, finance and legal industries, both Salesforce Shield and Box Governance may bring the highly sought after flexibility to cloud services without disrupting the organizations’ security requirements. Meanwhile, companies providing cloud-based services to these regulated industries provides a new opportunity to increase marketshare — and in doing so, change the landscape for cloud services. Here’s how…

Cloud adoption in finance and health care

The fact that the leading cloud CRM and cloud collaboration providers have launched solutions for the regulated industries almost at the same time could indicate a new trend that isn’t likely to disappear. Namely, after several years of struggles with cloud implementations, organizations that have strict data security policies have started changing their attitudes towards the cloud. A recent survey by Cloud Security Alliance revealed that the cloud adoption in the finance sector increased significantly in 2014.

Also, 61 percent of professionals working in the finance sector are in the process of creating a cloud strategy within their organizations, according to the same survey. Conversely, only 18 percent say they are planning to continue using the private clouds.

Similarly, the healthcare industry is also seeing an accelerated adoption of cloud solutions. Skyhigh Q2 2015 report on the cloud adoption and risk in health care suggests that more institutions are embracing the cloud to increase employee productivity and cut costs.

Compared to previous years, the use of private clouds in these industries is gradually decreasing — mainly thanks to the growing number of secure cloud solutions designed in accordance with the national security standards. Among them, Salesforce Shield and Box Governance are probably the products that would revolutionize the industries and enable even more organizations to migrate sensitive data to the cloud.

Secure offerings

With the ability to support the strict regulations for data access and retention, Salesforce Shield opens a new door for the organizations that were previously limited to using private clouds for security reasons. The service includes a number of security features designed to enable clients to safely work with the cloud without fear of violating federal regulations. More specifically, organizations in regulated industries will now have access to:

  • Platform encryption native to the Salesforce1 platform.
  • Data archive designed to help organizations cut costs by keeping data in “nearline storage.”
  • A field audit trail that enables companies to keep track of changes and ensure they are using only the most accurate data.
  • Event monitoring for the purposes of increasing visibility of the actions associated with the data use.

Unlike Salesforce, which enables organizations to build trusted cloud apps “using clicks, not code,” Box Governance is a new add-on service that adds advanced security features to Box’s widely used sharing and collaboration SaaS. The company has introduced three key capabilities in order to adjust the service to the needs of organizations that need to ensure compliance:

  • Retention management, which helps administrators control preservation and deletion schedules of their sensitive documents.
  • Content security policies that protect clients’ sensitive data.
  • Defensible eDiscovery to comply with data discovery requests.

The impact

Historically, the cloud has been associated with numerous security risks, which is why its adoption in the regulated industries has been notably slow. While the enterprises managed to find an intermediary solution by implementing hybrid clouds, businesses in regulated industries took more time to actually develop efficient public cloud strategies.

This is especially true for the health care industry, which has probably seen the tightest constraints regarding IT infrastructure innovation. The challenges here range from managing employee productivity apps to authentication, access and audit paradigms, as mentioned in a study by SecureLink. Working with highly sensitive citizens’ data, healthcare institutions have had a limited number of IT solutions at their disposal.

For the past few months, however, we’ve been seeing a significant increase in the number of apps that support HIPAA and FINRA compliance for healthcare and finance organizations. Unsurprisingly, this contributed to accelerating the adoption of new IT solutions in the sector, with the cloud leading the innovation process.

The new offerings by Salesforce and Box are likely to become leaders in the regulated industries market given their already established reputation of reliable cloud providers. The precisely-defined features are likely to be welcomed by numerous organizations worldwide, significantly changing the landscape in the regulated industries, as previously mentioned.

However, this does not mean that their struggles associated with IT innovation will be over. Salesforce Shield and Box Governance may make a deep impact on the way regulated industries use the cloud, but a number of other IT challenges will remain.

This mostly relates to the trends of outsourcing IT components and managing their implementation, which will force these industries to keep improving their strategies until they’re sure they’ve found all the right solutions for their needs.

How Salesforce & Box are changing the landscape in regulated industries originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015.

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Cloud

Office 365 beats Salesforce as most popular enterprise service in new survey

Microsoft’s Office 365 has passed Salesforce.com as the most popular service among companies that use Okta’s device and identity management products, according to a new report released Thursday.

From November 2013 to June 2015, Microsoft went from being the fourth most popular service to passing Google Apps, Box and recently Salesforce.com to become the most-used app among the more than 2,500 companies that rely on Okta’s services. Those businesses range from large enterprises like Intel to smaller firms with fewer than 250 people.

mostpopularenterpriseappsokta15 Okta

The most popular enterprise apps over time based on number of users

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InfoWorld Cloud Computing

Salesforce New Community Cloud Brings Big Data Analytics to Entire CRM

SalesforceCC 300x198 Salesforce New Community Cloud Brings Big Data Analytics to Entire CRMIt is not always easy for organizations to stay in touch with customers, partners and employees through home communities. With Salesforce’s new Community Cloud, companies can create their communities, in the LinkedIn style, but for their customers, partners and employees.

Built on the Salesforce Community Cloud Platform – via Connect API – companies can directly connect to Salesforce CRM and data sources and third-party systems. In this way, companies can deliver better service to their customers, more sales through partners and increase employee engagement. Salesforce research shows that digital communities guarantee 48 percent faster problem resolution, a 48 percent increase in employee engagement, 45 percent more customer satisfaction and 43 percent increase in sales through partners.

Community Cloud has a new feature called Targeted Recommendations which seeks to promote user engagement on these sites. The new feature, which is based on algorithms that analyze structured and unstructured data, is designed to bring members of the community the most relevant content, as inputs, resources, files and groups. The community managers can suggest content to specific information or an ad in the news and direct it to a group member type or a specific individual.

The second new feature now available is called Lightning Community Builder and Templates, and allows any business user community to deploy a customized, branded and optimized for mobile devices without the need to seek the help of IT. Companies can use Lightning Builder to create your own custom communities with custom applications. For example, a non-profit institution could build an application to organize volunteer events and incorporate it into the home page of your community.

Finally, Salesforce Connect for Google Drive Files is a new feature that allows community members to share any file created or stored in Google Drive. Thus, a marketing team could share a file from Google with the campaign planning group to easily access and work on it. You can also attach files within Google Drive to a record, as sales opportunities or service case.

According to IDC, the enterprise collaboration market was $ 1.24 billion in 2014, and the market expected to reach $ 3.5 billion in 2018, an annual growth of 23.1%. The sector as defined by IDC includes software for collaboration internally and externally. Other major players such as IBM Connections, Microsoft Yammer, Jive Software, Tibco Tibbr, Zimbra and SAP Jam also have a foot in this market.

Last year, Microsoft and Salesforce have signed a strategic partnership to create new solutions that will enable you to connect the platform and the CRM app to Windows and Office apps. The agreement provides that the Salesforce CRM solution is integrated with the Windows OS, the Azure cloud platform and the office suite Office 365.


CloudTimes

Salesforce taps Instagram’s new API with tailored marketing tools

Users of Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud on Tuesday gained easier access to Instagram’s roughly 300 million users thanks to an integration made possible by a new API.

Marketers can now use Salesforce’s cloud software to buy and manage Instagram advertising, publish content and offer customer service on the photo and video sharing site, among other capabilities.

Making the new integration possible is Instagram’s Ad API, which was originally announced in June. At the time, the site said it would initially open up the application programming interface just to a select group of Facebook marketing partners and agencies.

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CIO Cloud Computing

Salesforce Expands Data Analytics to Next Generation Business Apps

Wave Sales Overview1 225x300 Salesforce Expands Data Analytics to Next Generation Business AppsIn many popular consumer applications a user can take immediate action if he has obtained important information from large amounts of data. For business applications, it appears that, directly taking action in response to a data analysis not so easy. This often occurs because the analysis may be not coming from relevant data sources or because it directly not linked to the tasks. The result is sluggish business decisions at the expense of the operating results.

Salesforce.com has set the goal of providing businesses with a more user-friendly analysis tools for the reason mentioned above. Last week, the leader of the CRM service provider has unveiled a series of apps tailored to specific activities or roles. Among them is the introduction of Sales Wave Analytics, a tool for business, which will be the first to be delivered.

Earlier this year, Salesforce.com had already made a series of updates for its mobile platform Wave Analytics Cloud, and last month the company had added a new tool focused on big data. This time, the latest round of Wave Analytics Apps applications is intended to extend the cloud analytics capabilities by providing the prepackaged templates that can meet specific needs according to use, with the ability to provide a meaning data appropriate to the context.

The applications instantly integrate CRM data in appropriate role models to accelerate deployment. They will also highlight the historical trends and making full year comparative from any terminal. Because Wave Analytics Apps applications are built natively on Salesforce1 platform, predefined data flows will not only postpone automatically, but also to update all parameters associated with these changes in Salesforce.

Sales Analytics Wave is the first app in the series delivered by the firm. It will allow business to benefit from new forecasting management tools, sales pipeline, performance and more. Preconfigured templates included in the application will allow users to explore all Salesforce sales data. It will cover sales pipeline management and forecasting so that they can give access to quarterly results and will allow to follow team performance.

The top management of the business operations may, for example, use this tool to have a real-time analysis of sales pipeline and cross this information with the sales performance of products directly from the mobile phone to determine if these forecasts should be revised or not.

The Sales Wave Historical Analysis function allows sales managers themselves to create the database in no time from any device with an analysis of historical data. As a result they no longer have to wait for the results of business analysts.

The Wave platform is vertically integrated with Salesforce’s cloud analysis platform. In addition, the data does not need to be sorted for analysis, because the Wave platform includes a schema-free architecture. This allows all employees to intuitively explore full datasets and display the results in dashboards and graphs.

The tool will be available on iOS for iPhone, iPad and even Apple Watch. Additional languages ​​and other compatible devices will be added to the list later.


CloudTimes

Salesforce erects Shield for better enterprise-app security

Security has been an increasingly dominant theme in the enterprise software chorus in recent months, and on Tuesday Salesforce added a new voice to the mix with Shield, a set of platform services designed to help companies build secure apps.

Designed as part of the Salesforce1 platform, Shield offers four security-minded components intended to make it easier for companies with regulatory, compliance or governance requirements to build cloud apps with built-in auditing, encryption, archiving and monitoring functions.

A platform encryption feature, for instance, means that companies can easily designate sensitive data to be encrypted while preserving key business capabilities and workflow. A health insurance company, say, could manage personally identifiable information (PII) and protected health information (PHI) without compromising its agents’ ability to perform key functions using that data, such as searching claims, determining coverage eligibility and approving payments.

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InfoWorld Cloud Computing

Cloud Storage Platform Box.net Raises $50 Million From Salesforce And Others



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[San Jose, CA]

Cloud Storage Platform Box.net Raises Million From Salesforce And Others
Learn More Cloud storage platform Box.net has raised a whopping $ 50 million in new funding with participation from CRM giant Salesforce.com. Past investors also participated in the round, as well as new 'strategic partners', who will be revealed soon.
Read more on TechCrunch

SADA Systems partners with Rise to ppower complete Cloud Infrastructure offering
SADA Cloud Infrastructure gives businesses the opportunity to secure data and applications in a flexible cloud platform with a 99.99% uptime SLA. “We selected Rise as our partner due to the technology's flexibility and ease of integration with our
Read more on WebWire (press release)

ChannelCloud President Kent Erickson Featured on Cover of SPC (Service
Erickson will be featured in an article titled “What do you get when you pair the cloud with a channel?” In the article Erickson discusses the challenges of providing a cloud platform solution in an emerging market with undefined technology.
Read more on PR Web (press release)

Fast-Growing Companies Choose Clear Task for Move to Salesforce Service Cloud

Fast-Growing Companies Choose Clear Task for Move to Salesforce Service Cloud
Clear Task integrates social media and a community platform in the implementation of the Salesforce Service Cloud in two fast-growing companies. Clear Task, Inc., a salesforce.com consulting partner, has completed the implementation of the Salesforce
Read more on San Francisco Chronicle (press release)

Google`s Zagat Acquisition Supports Future Growth: 10 Reasons Why
Zagat is an ideal local platform, and it's something that Google can use to bolster its own plans for the future of localized content. There is a backdrop to the Zagat acquisition. Earlier this year, Yelp complained that Google was using its user
Read more on eWeek