Salesforce’s Benioff Talks Importance of Data Intelligence

Visit to New York City reveals why he is prioritizing bringing data lakes and data clouds to operate within the company’s CRM platform.

Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Editor

December 12, 2022

3 Min Read
Marc Benioff, Chairman and co-CEO of Salesforce speaks during an event in Washington, D.C., on October 18, 2019.Kristoffer Tripplaar via Alamy Stock Photo

Marc Benioff, chairman and co-CEO of Salesforce, talked up the importance of bringing data together in one platform as part of his company’s strategy. He spoke last week on this during his keynote at the company’s World Tour NYC event. Benioff naturally highlighted Salesforce’s progress and products but he also discussed the economy’s gyrations and the anticipation for a stronger recovery. “Customer expectations are changing in real time,” Benioff said. “There’s a new economy; there’s new stakeholders; there’s new technologies; there’s new experiences.”

He discussed trends such as the growing comfort with using mobile devices for business decisions, leveraging data, and automation for certain decision making. “We’re using AI more than ever before,” Benioff said. “We’re using automation and workflow. We’re using data more than ever before and insights and intelligence.”

The importance of data, and tools to process it, came to light during Cyber Week, the post-Thanksgiving week where consumers shop heavily online, according to Benioff. During that time, Salesforce’s platform saw some 49 billion marketing messages, 5.2 billion in sales ran on its commerce cloud during the week, along with more than 2.6 trillion database transactions and 1.4 trillion AI predictions, he said.

As Salesforce rolled out apps in recent years, Benioff said a frustrating trend surfaced among its clients. “Our customers have done something that we really didn’t like,” he said. “They’re starting to kind of set up data silos, or data warehouses, or even other data clouds outside of Salesforce with their customer data.”

To some extent, Benioff said, this was Salesforce’s faux pas by not offering its clients a receptacle to keep all their data within Salesforce. He said he wanted to change that trend and also provide intelligence on that data while keeping it all within its platform. Benioff said it became essential for Salesforce to create ways for its clients to interact with their key data sources. He cited AT&T as an example of a customer who was able connect to all data and unplug from legacy apps and consolidate into one CRM via Salesforce.

Presenting another customer example, Sanjna Parulekar, senior director of product marketing with Salesforce, joined Benioff’s keynote address to talk about automaker Ford’s work with data and other resources. “Ford is using their customer data to transform the way that they do business,” she said. That included working with customer data across such divisions as sales, service, marketing, and financing. Parulekar said Ford saw a drastic reduction, by 99%, in its coding needs after adopting Salesforce resources for AI, automation, and real-time data.

Benioff seems intent on making data visible and understood through Salesforce and creating space, including through the cloud. “Show me the data,” he said. “Give me a vision of what is the data. Give me insights from the data.” Salesforce’s CRM data cloud with real-time data, AI, and automation built in, may be a way, Benioff said, to avoid the creation of islands of information within organizations -- a tendency that can impede action. “Once you have islands of information, it’s harder and harder to make decisions,” he said.

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About the Author(s)

Joao-Pierre S. Ruth

Senior Editor

Joao-Pierre S. Ruth covers tech policy, including ethics, privacy, legislation, and risk; fintech; code strategy; and cloud & edge computing for InformationWeek. He has been a journalist for more than 25 years, reporting on business and technology first in New Jersey, then covering the New York tech startup community, and later as a freelancer for such outlets as TheStreet, Investopedia, and Street Fight. Follow him on Twitter: @jpruth.

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