Let’s forget for a moment the MC Hammer performance (he is a tech investor and Silicon Valley insider anyway, so it all makes much more sense than you’d think). Never mind all these new salesforce.com product announcements (albeit that Touch brings a – well – nice touch to enterprise mobility, Identity contains an interesting ambition to set a Facebook-like identity standard for enterprises, Chatterbox has the same for Dropbox-like file storage and sharing, the new Marketing Cloud neatly brings together everything that is cool and relevant in social marketing and work.com shows the horizon of truly social human resource management). Let’s not comment on motivational guru Tony Robbins joining Marc Benioff on stage (even though Robins turns out to be a salesforce.com power user and also – finally – there was somebody on stage that is taller than Benioff, except for that Exalogic server of course). Let’s even not discuss the company’s philanthropic arm (although granting $10 million to various organizations in San Francisco was so much more than a superficial gesture).
Forget all that, just for now.
What is striking more than ever at a Dreamforce event, is Benioff’s ability to make his clients shine, rather than products, features or concepts. Whether they are executives from Virgin Airlines, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Coca Cola, Burberry or General Electric, they all seem more than happy to take the stage and testify about the business successes they have created with salesforce.com solutions. Some of them are CIO’s, but quite a few others are in charge of the entire company, or business departments such as operations, human resource management or marketing & sales. None of them discuss technology directly, but all of them are very clear about their business drivers and growth ambitions and the way the social platform enables them to move forward.
Come to think of it, Benioff creates a benchmark and inspiration here for any CIO wanting to create real business impact with IT. Let’s stay in Tony Robbins style and apply some NLP. Imagine yourself at the Moscone centre stage. Your entire company packs the auditorium and it is your turn, as a CIO, to explain your strategy and achievements. Think about whom you would invite from the business to co-present with you. What made them more than willing to support you? Why would they enthusiastically tell about the breakthroughs in their business, thanks to your IT solutions and services? How did you align so well with them, that they actually outlined the next version of your solutions portfolio, rather than yourself?
It might yet be wishful thinking for some of us, but eventually all IT success stories should be told by the business. And if we are not there yet, we need to plan our steps – one by one – to get there. Benioff is clearly one of the role models to inspire that journey.
Now start firewalking.