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4/2/2012
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Salesforce.com's Social Enterprise Emphasizes 'Customer' In CRM

Salesforce.com cofounder Parker Harris discusses why the company has moved past its Cloud 2 mantra, with acquisitions like Heroku and Radian6 enabling even tighter customer relationships for the enterprise.

We invited Salesforce.com cofounder and head of development, Parker Harris, onto InformationWeek's Valley View last week. Harris, who started the company with CEO Marc Benioff, was beaming a megawatt smile, and why not? Salesforce's recent financial results (growing revenue at some 37%, with an annual run rate of $2.5 billion) depict happy times, and the company has made some eye-opening moves with its acquisitions of Radian6, Heroku, and Rypple, all of which hint at broader ambitions.

Twelve months ago, Harris was talking about Cloud 2, but now he calls it "so last year." Salesforce.com's Force platform now promises to be more open, thanks to the Heroku acquisition, he said. But more than that, Salesforce sees enterprise customers on Facebook, Twitter, and, in general, the Web, and if the company is really about enabling the customer relationship, Salesforce needs to provide the tools to extend traditional CRM (imagine calling SaaS-based CRM "traditional," but at this point it's far more of a given) to all of the places where customers engage. Harris wouldn't yet label this Cloud 3, but he did talk about the social enterprise, and how social media technology is bringing down the traditional walls surrounding the enterprise.

In the video embedded below, Harris discusses all of this, and the influence that Facebook's success had on the thinking at Salesforce.com, and how mobility is impacting its thinking right now.

We also discussed how the company's success drives new efforts from the likes of SAP and Oracle--both of whom have gotten with the cloud program of late, with SAP making some claims on becoming the number two player in software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings. But there's a difference between hosting applications in the cloud and having applications that are written from the ground up to be cloud-based applications. Harris believes that the Salesforce model (a multi-tenancy model) has more scale. While he thinks it's great that Oracle and SAP are helping expand the market, he doesn't seem very concerned about those companies as competitors.

Fritz Nelson is the editorial director for InformationWeek and the Executive Producer of TechWebTV. Fritz writes about startups and established companies alike, but likes to exploit multiple forms of media into his writing.

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