Structure 09: Marc Benioff on the Key to Salesforce's Success and the Move to Real-Time

Structure-090625-1428-D71_5137 (s crm) CEO Marc Benioff sat down with Om during this afternoon’s keynote to talk about his company’s success and how cloud computing technology is socially impacting the world. To start, Benioff joked about how Oracle (s orcl) CEO Larry Ellison shifted his perspective on cloud computing. Ellison “said something very zen” during Oracle’s earnings call earlier this week, Benioff said.

But Ellison’s view on cloud computing isn’t the only thing that’s changed. With the rise of Twitter, Benioff said, more customers are demanding the ability to “make and develop in real-time,” and companies should be prepared to deliver on that demand. He warned that companies that don’t will “not be tolerated by a customer much longer.”

With the flux of traffic on social-network sites following the Iranian election, it’s clear that real-time technology is having social implications around the world, Benioff said. He characterized CNN’s tweeting about the protests in Iran as “spectacular.” Benioff said, “That’s real-time information in a social environment, (and) you can apply that to your company, too.”

Benioff noted that many chief information officers he meets don’t use Facebook and Twitter, which negatively impacts a company’s business. “Corporations have to step it up in terms of integrating with these real-time systems,” he said.

When it comes to running a successful technology company, Benioff said, the key to success is happy customers who will recommend your business. (He recently wrote about a book about the first 10 years of “You’ve got to get customers selling for you,” he said. “I don’t think customers listen to vendors anymore — I think they listen to each other.”

Although Benioff wouldn’t definitively say that the rise of cloud computing has wiped out software, he noted that companies are making the move toward the cloud because its cheaper, elastic, and runs more efficiently. “When you talk to these CEOs, they’re looking to reduce cost and reduce risk,” he said. “When we’ve looked at recent large transactions that we’ve done, a lot of those were driven around speed, low risk, and customers needed an immediate return.”

Video of the keynote is here: