I am a very serious consultant, strategic trendwatcher with two feet on the ground. And yet ten years ago my life was turned upside down by the concept of Salesforce:
February 2009: I worked at Capgemini and was asked to form an opinion on Salesforce, then a new emerging vendor with an innovative concept for a CRM solution. I was partner manager for Oracle and therefore jointly responsible for Siebel, the largest and most successful CRM solution of the time.
Salesforce was a small player in the Netherlands with 7 people. Salesforce’s new partner manager was pleased with my rapprochement from the big Capgemini and convinced me to go to London the following week, where Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce, was scheduled to speak. It was a great opportunity to meet him.
But 10 years ago it was a crisis and a difficult period for Capgemini: it was announced that no one could fly without written permission from the CEO.
Meeting with Marc Benioff
I would therefore not get permission to fly to London. I considered my options: this was indeed an opportunity, I had heard that Marc Benioff was Oracle’s global marketing manager before he started Salesforce. And my responsibility has been the business development of Oracle business for years. Because I like to point out the big, strategic lines, I was interested in meeting him. Besides, I heard that Paul Cheesbrough, CIO of the Daily Telegraph would talk about his approach to getting the company out of the crisis by embracing new technology: Google and Salesforce. It was a Capgemini UK project, so I was going to meet my English Capgemini colleagues in London next to him.
It did seem like a great opportunity to me. So, I decided to book a flight with my own private credit card, which met with a bewildered response from my manager.
I fell in love with Salesforce!
But that one day in London became of great value to the rest of my life: I fell in love with Salesforce! And for the following reasons:
- The technology – Salesforce is a ‘born in the cloud’ ICT platform, based on the internet. You work with software that you never have to upgrade again and that works on any device: on a smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC. That was revolutionary at the time, 12 years ago.
- The Salesforce Foundation – The first keynote speaker in London was not Paul Cheesbrough but the CEO of an Indian NGO. She explained how much of an impact her organization could have among underprivileged Indian girls thanks to Salesforce’s support. Salesforce Foundation was the CSR department (Corporate Social Responsibility). I got a lump in my throat when I discovered that Salesforce worked that way too. It was not just a chapter in their annual report, a final piece as ‘window dressing’, but CSR is in Salesforce’s DNA. Marc Benioff explained in his opening speech that Salesforce Foundation and the ‘1-1-1 concept’ are part of Salesforce’s strategy. Today, Salesforce still does, Salesforce Foundation is now called Salesforce.org.
Now in 2019, so 10 years later …
Still inspired by what Marc Benioff preaches, I now use my core competence to make the world a better place. I help people and organizations to make a positive contribution to this world through the correct use of new technology. ‘The right thing to do’, because there are also many drawbacks to these innovations. If we’re not careful, we become more unhappy, haunted, and stressed by the overuse of our smartphones or watches.
Go for ‘mastering technology’, I teach: we must be and remain the boss of technology, and not the other way around.
g-company, the Google company
Six years ago I joined g-company, the hippest Google consulting organization in the Netherlands. In the meantime, we have built up a great Salesforce.org consulting team with g-company. We have been able to help over 70 non-profit organizations with the powerful Salesforce platform.
Today, organizations are well off embracing and combining both Salesforce and Google technology. Both are the most powerful and innovative technology providers in the world that, when properly applied, create tremendous opportunities for organizations.
And Google has google.org, which is inspired by the Salesforce 1-1-1 model. Find out in the inspiring book Behind the cloud how Larry Page and Sergey Brin, founders of Google, sat in the front row at a speech by Marc Benioff at Stanford University. “We are starting a company named Google that will do no evil,” they said. “Google.org was thrilled to copy, emulate and ‘steal’ the wonderful salesforce.com model,” writes Marc Benioff (Play # 72, last paragraph).
- Salesforce for structured data, where the customer comes first.
- Combine that with Google BigQuery (the very powerful search and find the option of Google) and the organization becomes data-driven in one fell swoop.
- You then have all the technical resources in-house to turn data into valuable information, including technologies such as machine learning, which is in fact artificial intelligence.
Knowing more? Or spar about what this can mean for your organization? Feel free to respond and contact me!