Marc Benioff and Michael Dell

Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce with Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Computer

This week (14 Sept) saw an influx of over 6,000 people to London to attend Cloudforce conference at the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank. It was the annual shin-dig for fans of , the game-changing customer relationship management system hosted in the cloud.

Unlike at previous Cloudforce, it was clear on arrival that the Salesforce ecosystem had grown substantially. Elizabeth Decker, Director of Partner Marketing, had obviously been working overtime to assemble a noticeably bigger raft of partners, some specialising in apps development, some in implemention (among them some ex-Smarties). One observation was the very prominent role taken by Accenture (diamond sponsor of the event – which must have set them back a few quid); they featured a great case study for Schneider Electric in their 1.00pm breakout session on “The Cloud Enabled Business”.

But of course, everyone had come to see Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff take to the stage in one of his now infamous, charismatic keynotes. Although I did overhear some grumbles that the content was a clone of his keynote at the recent Dreamforce event in San Francisco (itself something of a recordbreaker with over 45,000 attendees), he didn’t seem to disappoint his London audience.

The Social Enterprise

Marc Benioff's vision of the Social Enterprise

Benioff’s new mantra was the “social enterprise“. Having launched “Chatter” just over a year ago, Benioff said he no longer speaks of Cloud 2.0. It seems he had a eureka moment somewhere after visiting people like Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook) and others that the successfull enterprise is the connected enterprise.  From an article in Forbes magazine (Barrett, 2011)  it seems that Benioff instructed his half his development team to stop what they were doing and inject social media functionality inside Salesforce.

He asserted that a platform for social enterprise is truly transformational; Benioff was quick to remind the audience of the the role social media in changing political landscape; the “power to bring down dictators in countries and dictators in companies”, he squawked.

 “It not about soft[ware] power or hard[ware] power but social power”.  Strong stuff indeed. Maybe you disagree?

At Cloudforce, Benioff shared the limelight with Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Computer (morning keynote and afternoon keynote interview, 14 Sept). They seemed very at ease and spontaneous. See my video clip here.

Marc Benioff CEO of at 2011 Cloudforce

Marc Benioff at 2011 Cloudforce

Another guest was Angela Ahrendts, CEO Burberrys, the British fashion house, who was very vocal in her support for how Salesforce had helped her revolutionise her business whilst not sacrificing brand values.

The growth of Salesforce has been nothing short of staggering. And they’re not done yet. Acquistions such as Heroku and Radian6 are definitely technologies to watch.

Don’t forget to post a comment and I’ll let Marc know what you think…

If you weren’t there, or were there and want to relive the experience, then go online to the recorded video on the Salesforce website.


Barrett, V. (2011) ‘Mister Disrupter’ Forbes. 08 August. p.84.