Salesforce.com co-founder predicts what the cloud market will look like

Salesforce.com co-founder Parker Harris discusses key product growth areas for the company, the challenges of innovating, the future of development and flexible infrastructure, and what the cloud market itself will look like years from now.

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We want is to raise the level of discussion. I think that’s also why we hired Keith Block, who joined us, to really change that relationship at a C-suite level. [Ed. note: Block is a former Oracle sales executive who is now vice chairman and president of Salesforce.com.] I think that’s also frankly where industry verticalization comes in because we need to speak in the customer’s language.

Japan Post Bank was here, one of our big customers. We need to speak in terms of banking to them. We can’t speak in terms of high-tech or generic CRM right now. That’s fine at first but we need to say what does it mean for banking? What does it mean for your bank? What does it mean for Japan? Because we built such a powerful platform, it’s not like we’re creating this separate product off to the side, like there’s a banking product over there. Who are the partners out there that banks are already using? If the integration is happening with each customer, why don’t we just think about pre-integrating with those packages and then when we go into a bank, say here it is, all done. Let’s just put it all together so we can have that conversation up front.

I want to talk about how you see the industry evolving. It goes back to the buyer requirements. We’ve seen -- whether it’s in PC software or mainframe software, client server -- that it’s tough to be in a single product category over time. Partly, it’s tough because it’s a challenge for companies to keep enhancing the product and keep rolling it forward.

Harris: And it creates bad products. If you’re just doing that one product line all you’re doing is adding features, you’re going to get feature bloat and you’re going to end up being this useless piece of software, really complex.

But I think some of it also comes from customer requirements of not wanting to have to deal with lots of different vendors. There’s an integration challenge for them, there’s a contracting challenge, management challenge, all of that. Do you see this taking place in the cloud industry over time? Are we going to see stitching together the HR, the financial, everything into one cloud package or does it evolve differently?

Harris: I don’t really believe that any one vendor should ever do it all because the minute they do it all, they’re going to get old. What I believe in very strongly -- and we try to do this behind the firewall -- is having services that integrate together, that work together and then as things evolve, how do you pull things out, add new things? That’s what I’m doing with my service so why can’t corporations do that? I think the reason is it’s really hard, behind the firewall, to do that because you’re just repeating the same thing over and over again. That’s why consultants have so much business and that’s why integration companies have so much business because they’re going in and they’re doing the same thing over and over again.

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