Salesforce.com's vision of the social enterprise has been heavily hyped in the weeks leading up to Dreamforce 2011. And on Thursday, Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff lifted the curtain on what he and Salesforce call the crossroads between social, mobile and open cloud to transform business models.
"Salesforce.com was born cloud. We were born cloud in 1998. But we have been reborn social," Benioff said.
According to Benioff, social networks are dominating the Web, with 22 percent of Internet time spent on social networks and applications, and social networks surpassing e-mail with 1.1 billion users.
"This social revolution is really unlike any other paradigm we've experienced," he said, adding that mobile, too, is pushing the new trends in what Benioff called the "post PC era" that is seeing the old guard bow out and retool their strategies.
"HP just threw their hat in the ring on PCs and said 'We're out' … Smartphones and tablets are taking over," he said.
With a heavy focus on making CRM more like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and shaking the data-heavy stigma of business software, Benioff said Salesforce is looking to make business social. Whether that's clicking "like" on a Facebook status update, retweeting a poignant tweet on Twitter or any number of social media capabilities, the B-to-B world needs to adjust to the models that have enticed consumers.
The goal, he said, is a business environment where information comes to the user, not in which the user seeks it out. And intelligence filters out the clutter and unnecessary filler, to only deliver what's important and pertinent.
Next: Salesforce Customers Get SocialTo showcase the idea of the social enterprise, Benioff invited a host of Salesforce customers to the stage. Major customers like Verizon, Bank of America, KLM and NBC Universal are using social elements to connect with and learn about customers.
"Social enterprises -- we're seeing them emerge," Benioff said.
One example of a social enterprise is London global luxury fashion juggernaut Burberry. Angela Ahrendts, Burberry CEO, joined Benioff on stage to detail how Burberry created a social enterprise with its Burberry World platform. With Burberry World, the company sought to give customers total access to the company wherever they are from any device and have it maintain the look and feel that Burberry customers have come to expect.
"It's borderless, it's agnostic. It's the new universal language, social media," Ahrendts said.
The key, Ahrendts said, is to unlock economic value from leveraging social networks, the cloud and mobility.
"You have to be totally connected with anyone who touches your brand," she said. "If you don't do that, I don't know what your business model is in the next five years."
Benioff also showed off Toyota Friend, Toyota's offering where users can log into their account and receive real-time information about their automobile. For example, the fuel levels, battery charge and other data. It also offers data for other cars in the family, all via Chatter. Salesforce also built a Toyota Friend iPhone app which adds commands to lock and unlock a vehicle, honk the horn and complete other tasks.
Toyota Friend is also for Toyota internally, where companies can see customers' social profiles and gather and examine customer information via the Toyota Friend network.
"It's not just about Toyota. We have seen this happen with our customers all over the world," Benioff said, showcasing how Coca-Cola is using social tools to communicate with customers.
To bring customers on board with the social enterprise, Benioff revealed the Social Enterprise License Agreement, which lets customers buy all of the technologies that make up the social enterprise for a fixed monthly price that offers unlimited access to services for a certain period of time.
"We are creating social enterprises, we are on the verge of a major transformation in our industry," Benioff said adding, "This is the future of our industry. This is the future of enterprise software."