Salesforce's Benioff Paints Exuberant Vision of ‘Inclusive Capitalism’


Salesforce's Marc Benioff offered a sweeping vision of "inclusive capitalism" Tuesday, then left it to his co-founder to touch on the CRM giant's latest capabilities for connecting data sources and infusing them with more artificial intelligence.

Co-founder and CTO Parker Harris demonstrated a new interface for linking Salesforce clouds and outside systems to create comprehensive customer profiles during the main keynote at the 16th Dreamforce conference in San Francisco.

But the product news from Harris was largely overshadowed by Benioff's presentation. The charismatic co-CEO spent his birthday pacing the conference hall and talking exuberantly about concepts like trust and values as the world is transformed by the fourth industrial revolution, and artificial intelligence becomes pervasive.

[Related: Salesforce Co-CEO: ‘A Perfect Storm’ Is Yielding Unprecedented Partner Opportunity]

Sponsored post

Benioff said that we live in an age when companies must be able to articulate how their work is ethical and humane, not just profitable.

"Every company, every CEO, better be ready to answer that question to their values," he told attendees.

Benioff rushed through topics including environmental sustainability, decarbonizing each sector of the economy, supporting public schools, gender equality and civil rights. Technological advances should bring us "together into the future," he said.

"Business is the greatest platform for change," Benioff said, as "so much can be done through companies, stakeholders, customers, employees, partners."

Benioff cited other companies joining Salesforce in fostering change: Google, Amazon Web Services, IBM and Apple. He gave a special call-out to Salesforce's latest technology partner, specifically thanking Apple CEO Tim Cook for his efforts to combat gender and sexual-orientation inequality.

The product news followed.

Harris introduced Customer 360—not a product, he said, but a new capability that's included at no charge as part of the Salesforce customer success platform.

Customer 360 offers each Salesforce-based enterprise a point-and-click interface connecting data across all the Salesforce clouds—Sales, Service, Marketing, Commerce.

The feature can be used to build comprehensive customer profiles, with unique identifiers and attributes, and pre-built packages for creating cross-channel experiences, Harris said.

And customer 360 includes integration capabilities, connecting Salesforce's portfolio to other technologies in the enterprise, such as human resources and ERP systems.

The integration comes from Salesforce's $6.5 billion MuleSoft acquisition. That company's AnyPoint platform makes it possible for Salesforce to offer layered APIs across its ecosystem, Harris said, in a way reminiscent of Salesforce's AppExchange online marketplace.

Then artificial intelligence can be used to derive insights from all the data unlocked through integrating clouds and systems.

"Einstein also loves that data. Einstein just eats it up," Harris said of Salesforce's AI platform, which can improve sales and marketing efforts.

"AI keeps moving faster and faster," Harris said, and "Einstein keeps moving."

The latest upgrade is Einstein Voice, a natural language recognition service that allows users talk to Salesforce, or build voice-enable chatbots, all connected to Einstein's back-end AI capabilities.