Marc Benioff On The Art of War

November 12, 2006 at 4:40 pm Leave a comment

Thanks to Sonshi.com for the tip on a recent interview with Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff. The full article can be found here: http://sonshi.com/benioff.html.

A couple of highlights:

Sonshi.com: Would you mind sharing with our readers a time when the book helped you to compete in business and/or helped you in your life?

Benioff: One of the most important tenants of the book focuses on strategic thinking rather than combative thinking. That advice has helped us decide to position ourselves in a way that makes people want to join our mission—rather than attack us. A perfect example of this is exemplified by our decision to open up our platform. If we had been thinking combatively, we would have been afraid about competitors learning too much about us, or we would have had concerns about them duplicating our moves. Instead, we opened up the platform, first with API, then with something called Customforce, a suite of tools behind salesforce.com that allows regular business people to easily extend their current salesforce.com applications, and then with Apex, a breakthrough development platform that lets customers create and run any type of application on demand. By inspiring people to join us and work with us creatively, we gathered an army of innovators who are dedicated to making us better.


Sonshi.com: The mantra at salesforce.com is the “End of Software.” How would a company looking for CRM benefit from choosing salesforce.com over more traditional software companies like Oracle or SAP?

Benioff: Every company wants to focus on what they do best, and please their customers. And while the technology models of the past have promised to help them do this, the result was too often cost and complexity. We offer an alternative that allows our customers to focus on what’s important.

We think that there has been something fundamentally wrong with the technology industry—particularly for buyers—for a long time. There’s been an unnecessary burden placed on customers to ensure that enterprise software delivers on the vendors’ promised results. The customer has been required to piece together an overall solution (traditionally of application software, middleware software, database software, networking & telecommunication infrastructure, hardware servers, and client devices). These pieces are assembled after purchase and require continuous fine-tuning and support.

Maybe if these software applications worked, it would be okay. The problem is, they don’t. Over the past number of years, enterprise software customers have made large investments—usually more than they had anticipated—and received little in return. In fact, more than half of all new enterprise systems have failed completely!

As an alternative to the current system, salesforce.com offers Web-based applications. It’s now been proven that on-demand solutions can deliver immediate benefits at reduced risks and costs. Our application utility model, which we promote as “The End of Software,” focuses on eliminating conventional software in favor of a software-as-service model. What we mean by this is that users pay a reasonable monthly fee as opposed to tens of thousands (to millions) of dollars to install and upkeep the CRM solution. Since the solution requires no software or hardware to buy, install, maintain, or upgrade, customers typically realize savings of greater than 90 percent versus similar client/server solutions. The best part is that it works: salesforce.com is designed to be as simple to use as sites like Amazon or Yahoo, while at the same time it’s capable of handling a company’s complex CRM needs.

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Entry filed under: Marc Benioff.

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