All industries should brace for a shakeup in tech: Salesforce’s Benioff

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Benioff: Every industry is vulnerable

The tech world needs to brace for a shake-up. 

Actually, all sectors need to, because all corners of the tech world are coming together to transform every industry as we know them, according to Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff.

All types of companies are leveraging the cloud to make fast, more efficient software changes; social networking such as the kind that ridesharing company Uber uses to connect riders with drivers; predictive analytics that determine what consumers will want; and the Internet of things, connecting devices to a central, Internet-based location, controllable remotely over the Internet, Benioff explained.

Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, speaking at Dreamforce 2014.
Source: Copyright© 2014 by Jakub Mosur

At Uber, for instance, it's not just that the riders are customers, its workers are customers, too, so it's important for them to make sure drivers are happy and not leaving for competitors like Lyft, another ride-sharing company, Benioff said.

"Whether it's in transportation, health care, financial services, consumer product goods, every industry is getting disrupted. Every industry is going to be completely transformed," Benioff told CNBC in an interview. "I think that every company has to take notice that if you're not connected with your customer in a whole new way, you're in trouble," added the CEO of Salesforce, which runs a cloud-based customer resource management system and organized the Dreamforce conference, where tech professionals gathered in San Francisco this month. 

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The "Internet of things" could seep its way into the financial services industry, for example, potentially connecting checking and credit card accounts to common household devices, suggested Val Srinivas, the Banking & Securities research leader at the Deloitte Center for Financial Services in a report last year.

And the Internet of things has the potential to be embedded even further into consumers' lives.

"Imagine a personal health monitor that is also connected to your investment account. At the sign of any serious health hazard (say a heart attack), the investment account could automatically rebalance to limit your downside exposure, or transfer your holdings to more liquid securities, in anticipation of future cash needs. This may sound a bit far-fetched now, but is not completely out of the realm of possibilities," Srinivas wrote

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"I will tell you that we are moving into a very unusual time. we are moving into an unstable time because when you have this much disruption, especially with robotics and artificial intelligence, we all need to be thinking about what the ramifications are of that...," said Benioff.

But the executive said he hopes that the world won't end up in a scenario portrayed in the movie Terminator, in which machines become self-aware, make their own decisions and take over the world.

Whether it's in transportation, health care, financial services, consumer product goods, every industry is getting disrupted. Every industry is going to be completely transformed.
Marc Benioff
Salesforce.com CEO

"I hope that we'll be smart enough to know we have a more awareness, and between our government leaders and our business leaders and our societal leaders that we're going to have a great future," Benioff said.

Much of the tech world may not agree, however.

IT job search site CW Jobs, alongside market research firm YouGov, polled 517 IT decision makers and found that 13 percent believe that technology could be responsible for destroying the world