I attended Marc Benioff’s keynote at Dreamforce this morning, and what struck me was the vibe — it wasn’t about technology per se (although plenty of that was demonstrated), but rather about empowerment via technology. The first 45 minutes of Benioff’s talk was about philanthropy and leveraging technology to help others. The Prime Minister of Haiti and Sean Penn talked about the plight of Haiti and how Salesforce technology has helped the country track funding for the earthquake recovery and ensure it’s used wisely.
After that presentation — and a round of “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News — Benioff went on to talk about “The Internet of Customers” and Salesforce 1. Salesforce 1 is a reworking of Salesforce’s many platforms to create a much more mobile-friendly development platform. At the moment, Salesforce 1 is new, and it’s difficult to understand its strengths and weaknesses. However, I saw several demos of it yesterday, and it’s clear that partners and customers have quickly used it to build user-friendly and powerful apps. Salesforce 1 also allows admins to administer the system via a smartphone (rather than a desktop PC).
In short, Salesforce is adjusting to the consumerization of IT. Trust me, the geeks are still here — the kiosk selling books on how to write to the new Salesforce 1 APIs had a long line of people. But Salesforce is also making room for business analysts to tweak this and build that via point and click. This acknowledgement that the point of technology is to empower, rather than be the center of attention, is heartening to see. Not all IT vendors understand this.