Business Insider sat down with Salesforce co-CEO Keith Block, one of the 10 people transforming enterprise technology.
Block says Salesforce has reinvented itself three times in the 20 years since it was founded. For its fourth act, it aims to help businesses take advantage of artificial intelligence, and their massive troves of data, to get better insight into their customers.
Block joined Salesforce in 2013, and he was named co-CEO alongside the firm’s cofounder Marc Benioff last summer.
He says that Salesforce’s corporate values are what brought him over from Oracle and that today they help build relationships of trust with even the largest customers.
Check out the 100 people transforming business here.
F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote there were “no second acts in American lives.”
Though it’s possible the writer was taken out of context, Keith Block says that Salesforce.com, the $124 billion cloud software company he leads as co-CEO with Marc Benioff, has been lucky in that regard. In Block’s view, the company has reinvented itself several times over the 20 years since it first came into existence, each time establishing itself as a major player in a new market.
“I think most companies have one act,” Block told Business Insider. “Salesforce has had a second act, third act, fourth.”
The first act was the customer-relationship-management cloud software, now known as Sales Cloud, that launched the company in 1999. Act two was Service Cloud, its product for customer-support agents, which he says is poised to overtake Sales Cloud and become Salesforce’s biggest business this year. The third, he says, was its Marketing Cloud.
Now, Block is trying to guide Salesforce through what he sees as Salesforce’s fourth act: applying artificial intelligence to the vast amounts of data that its customers are increasingly generating to come up with fresh insight into better ways to do business. To that end, Salesforce recently paid $6.5 billion for its largest acquisition ever: MuleSoft, a company that helps gather and sift data from even the oldest business software.
Read more: The $6.5 billion acquisition that everyone hated a year ago was the only thing everyone loved about Salesforce’s latest quarter
The ultimate goal, Block says, is to help businesses achieve what he calls the “360-degree view” of their customers: the ability to track their preferences, habits, and desires no matter which device they’re using.
“Everything for us begins and ends with the customer behind every device, whether it’s a phone, or an IT device, or a robot,” Block says. “There’s a customer back there, and you have to have a portfolio that allows you to think about: How do you capture that information? How do you distill that data? How do you make actions through artificial intelligence around better engaging with that customer?”
Block says this is something the whole industry has been searching for since he began his career. Now, he says, it’s finally here.
“I’ve referred to it as the ‘Holy Grail.’ We’re there,” Block says. “We have the technology, we have the capability, we have the product portfolio to …read more
Source:: Business Insider