Sramana Mitra: Given what’s going on in your business right now, and given the things that are happening in the industry, where do you see trends and open problems?
Alex Bard: First we’ll talk about social, and then we’ll talk about mobile. Some of the interesting things that we’re seeing in social are deeper engagements between businesses and their customers, greater levels of transparency. We’re seeing some of that in, for example, what we’re doing with our Chatter communities. Chatter is a great way for businesses to have internal collaboration with all of their employees. There’s a greater collaboration with internal employees, but now we’re opening that up and allowing those employees deeper into the organization to collaborate directly with customers in a public forum, and customer can collaborate with customers and employees.
You’re starting to bring together customers, partners, and employees in a much more connected what way. What we’re seeing social do is drive businesses connecting with their customers, employees, and partners in whole new ways. What we’re doing at Salesforce is building new tools and technologies to enable that to happen in a natural way.
We’re going to continue to see that trend. If you’d had the opportunity to come to DreamForce, you would have seen us talk about how we believe that the world is social and businesses are going social, and that at the end of the day, that means connecting with those constituents in whole new ways. That’s where we see the next evolution happening.
SM: If you boil that down to opportunities you would encourage entrepreneurs to explore, where would you point them?
AB: I think the opportunities are in helping businesses connect with their employees, partners and customers in whole new ways. I don’t think we’ve found the best way to do that yet. Certainly, Salesforce has unique and interesting solutions to it, but I see a lot of opportunity in that space. I see it redefining itself. And if I were an entrepreneur looking to build a unique set of solutions that addresses real problems, challenges, and opportunities today, and something that has a long lifetime ahead of itself, I would look into how to more effectively facilitate those connections.
Mobile, as a part of that, is contributing to the sense of being able to connect with one another and connect with businesses in a much more dynamic way. For me personally, I probably interact more on my mobile device now than I do on my desktop. Certainly, if you were to combine phone with my touch pad, then I spend much more time on it than on my desktop. So, I would be looking at other technologies and interfaces that are specifically developed for these new connected mobile devices.
SM: OK. I’d love to get your insight on how Salesforce is looking at acquisitions within the domain of service.
AB: Our core mission is to continue to deliver value to our customers. A lot of that value is organically driven where we continue to listen to customers and build solutions to help them solve new challenges and take advantage of new opportunities. In some cases, we do acquisitions to supplement the things that we’re doing. In the case of Assistly, that was an acquisition that made sense to Salesforce to help round out our service offering. In the case of marketing, you’ve seen us do two big acquisitions. That was a way to supplement delivering more value to our customers based on having a deep connection with them and understanding the challenges and opportunities they face. We’ll continue to do that. We’ll continue to build great products and solutions organically, internally. And we’ll continue acquiring really great teams to help us build out those products or existing businesses that can help us go into new challenges that our customers are facing.