Salesforce.com founder Marc Benioff has done his part to revolutionize the software industry, and he's far from done.
Back when Benioff was a top executive at Oracle in the 1990s, salespeople stored client and prospect data on proprietary machines that required expertise to use. Marketing teams had separate tools as did customer support representatives. Data was siloed, limiting the capabilities of analysis and business intelligence software.
Fast forward two decades and Benioff hast turned that model on its head. Salesforce is a $50 billion enterprise that businesses rely on to connect their sales, marketing, support and financials in the cloud — a term that didn't exist when the company was launched in 1999.
Rather than mimicking Oracle and trying to do everything, Salesforce has enabled scores of niche software developers to plug their apps into the platform and get instant access to many thousands of prospective customers. AppExchange, as it's known, features more than 3,000 products, some from companies that have built billion-dollar businesses on top of Salesforce.
Now that Salesforce has over 150,000 businesses spending $8 billion a year on its customer relationship management (CRM) software and other products, Benioff is attempting to take the next giant step into the future.
Enter artificial intelligence.