05 Mar Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff Has Declared War — Are You Enlisting?
It’s one thing for Salesforce.com founder and CEO Marc Benioff to be willing to bet his company on its ability to survive a knife-fight with Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft — after all, this business was built on feisty entrepreneurs whose innovative approaches won the hearts of customers and toppled slow-moving giants.
But the much bigger issue in this drama isn’t about Salesforce, but rather about you: Are you willing to bet your current credibility and very likely your job on Salesforce’s ability to deliver big-time applications, enduring and robust development platforms, and ongoing financial stability while Oracle and others look to stuff it permanently into a narrow niche that doesn’t get much sunshine?
Benioff, quite appropriately, has been proudly and pointedly highlighting his company’s huge customer wins against Oracle and SAP and Microsoft. And yet Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, with a much-longer and more-impressive track record than Benioff, says Oracle has begun winning consistently in head-to-head competition for deals in Salesforce’s wheelhouse: CRM apps in the cloud. Question: Are Salesforce’s wins indications of a fundamental shift in customer strategies, or a shorter-term indication of a niche play that is working very nicely?
Benioff, quite accurately, points to the lower cost of the cloud model versus the traditional on-premises software model. But Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP have begun transforming significant parts of their businesses to embrace the cloud approach and will surely narrow dramatically any price gap Benioff can now tout. Question: Can Salesforce and Benioff continue their impressive growth rates and gain breakaway momentum before those big, hungry competitors retool their offerings and begin very aggressive attempts to marginalize Salesforce?
Anyone who doesn’t respect the hell out of what Benioff and Salesforce have achieved is either a fool or a zealously blind competitor (and I’m willing to bet that, in private, many of Salesforce’s competitors also are big admirers). Let me tick off a few of their accomplishments, and these come from my own head and not from any of Benioff’s presentations.
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