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Benioff at Web 2.0 Summit: Social is the most exciting opportunity for enterprise software

(lousy picture of) Benioff and O'ReillyAt the Web 2.0 Summit yesterday in San Francisco’s epic Palace Hotel, big man of Salesforce Marc Benioff likened the “social revolution” in enterprise software to the Arab Spring movements of 2011, referring to an “Enterprise Spring” even as Occupy SF demonstrators continued their tussle with the police not far away.

“Social is the most exciting opportunity for enterprise software,” said Benioff in conversation with Tim O’Reilly. “Facebook is eating the Web. People are spending much more time on Facebook than on the Internet.  It’s a social revolution. You don’t see signs saying ‘Thank you Microsoft, IBM…’ — you see ‘Thank you Facebook.’ That’s a pretty big shift.”

This social revolution is disrupting enterprise software because it enables “the empowerment of customers and employees in a way not before possible,” Benioff explained. This affects not only how customers learn about and learn to use complicated software, but also the software itself. And the revolution is not confined to just software, he continued.

“You should have a car called the ‘Toyota Friend,'” says Benioff, suggesting a future of social cars. “I want to have a conversation with the car.”  While current economic news is bleak, the future according to Benioff is also bright in terms of employment and opportunities for huge growth in the auto sector, with innovative ventures such as Fisker, Tesla, and GE building factories here in the US. “There are a lot of things going on — we need to amplify and illuminate that.” 

He also cited gamification as “a huge massive step for all of us in how we’re writing software.”

While heaping praises on Facebook and these other social opportunities, O’Reilly didn’t let him leave the stage without getting a few jabs in at presumed competitors. In response to O’Reilly’s question about “the false cloud,” Benioff responded that some enterprises contend “We have cloud computing, virtualization, software as a service — and here it is on a disk.”

Here on the SAP Community Network, of course, we’ve known about the power of the online community in software and beyond for years now, of course.  Online comrades: how are we leading the way for the future of all enterprises?

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