Dreamforce Day #2: The Internet of Customers

dreamforce-keynote-2013

This morning, when the official Dreamforce keynote kicked off with a performance by Huey Lewis and the News, everyone was entertained, but no one could have guessed what to expect. But before we had time to wonder, Marc Benioff, CEO and founder of Salesforce, took the stage, and began a non-stop show that covered business philosophy, philanthropy and the future of technology. Above all, the Keynote was equal parts entertaining and educational – and a total crowd pleaser. In fact, it embodied the most important theme of the morning: focus on the customer.

Some companies pivot to shareholders, some pivot to competitors, some pivot to partners. We pivot to our customers.

Benioff explained that although we’re all hyper-focused on the Internet of Things, that’s not really the best way to describe the future of computing. Instead, we should be moving towards the “Internet of the Customer.” It’s easy to wrapped up in devices and channels, but as Benioff said, behind every tweet, every mobile device, every computer or smart watch is a customer.

That means from a business perspective, our primary focus shouldn’t be devices. We should be thinking about people. He added, “Some companies pivot to shareholders, some pivot to competitors, some pivot to partners. We pivot to our customers.”

We couldn’t agree more. A focus on customer centricity is one of our core values for exactly the reasons that Benioff stated: they’re the ones using your product. Not only do they have the deepest knowledge of it, but they also the greatest ability to be advocates.

More importantly, your customers are your business, which seems obvious but can be something we all forget at times. When Benioff highlighted Salesforce’s success, he didn’t talk about the business he built. He talked about the business his customers had built.

This level of appreciation for the customer is not just the job of account managers or marketers. It should be embraced holistically by the whole company, in every department, in every meeting. When it is, your business has the ability to truly innovate in a way that is aligned with your customers needs. You play an impactful part in shaping their future. The happy side effect of that contribution to them is success for your business.

It does require a bit of recalibration in your approach – across departments. But despite what you might thing based on the “Back to the Future” reenactment in today’s presentation, you don’t need time travel, a Delorean or even a Tesla to get start embodying this new philosophy. In fact, it’s all possible right way, as both Benioff and Huey Lewis would say, with the power of [customer] love.

By Rachel Balik