Salesforce.com is getting ready for Dreamforce 2011, its hallmark cloud-computing event. This year's conference is planned for Aug. 30 through Sept. 2 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, and will focus on something that's been in the news plenty in recent days: The post-PC revolution.
As Salesforce sees it, the post-PC revolution will further accelerate the social enterprise. There is clearly a rise in companies working to improve the way they collaborate, communicate and share information with customers and employees in the cloud. That rise, Salesforce said, is transforming companies into social enterprises, which it defined as those that build social profiles of customers, create internal social networks, and listen to and engage with customers over the Internet.
Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce, offered a bold statement with which his competitors likely disagree. "Each year at Dreamforce, we set the agenda for the cloud-computing industry, and this year will be no exception," he said. "At Dreamforce 2011, we will showcase customers that have embraced innovation and transformed themselves into social enterprises."
The gestalt the technology market is wandering through is moving to an ever more web-centric world, a world that surrounds companies like Salesforce -- and favors them, according to Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.
"Salesforce is not really known as a social-networking company by any stretch of the imagination," Enderle said. "Both Salesforce and IBM are having a little trouble grappling with it as a result. On the other hand, it's not like the social networks are flooding into the businesses overtly, it's more covertly and carried by the employees."
As Enderle sees it, Salesforce's take on the market is correct. But He questioned whether the company can position itself to leverage the evolution. While Salesforce was initially one of the biggest enterprise cloud players, he noted, cloud leadership has shifted to the likes of EMC and IBM.
Tapping Relevant Trends
"To a large extent I think Salesforce needs to return to being more relevant in the trends that they themselves helped create," Enderle said. "Salesforce is doing a marginal job riding these trends. The right thing to do is to get back and start talking about yourself as a leader. But the danger is that they aren't anymore, and they need to address that."
Salesforce will work to trumpet its cloud leadership at Dreamforce with sessions on government, healthcare and the social world. Special guests at the annual user and developer conference include Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google. The event aims to teach attendees how their companies can take advantage of Salesforce's cloud offerings. The company expects more than 25,000 people to attend the 450 sessions.