In what marks their first appearance together as co-chief executives, Salesforce’s Marc Benioff and Keith Block laid out their vision for the customer relationship management software company and their view of the current state of the technology market.
During the kickoff to the company’s Dreamforce developer conference, Benioff took time amid the two-hour long keynote address to comment on the state of the technology industry, which has been embroiled in data breaches and declining public trust. That has resulted in increased scrutiny on the part of regulators and the potential for more federal and state legislation governing how tech companies handle individuals’ and companies’ data.
Benioff, who recently made headlines for acquiring Time Magazine, said during the presentation that trust was essential particularly as advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence play a bigger role in society. Acknowledging that the software as a service company, which has evolved from one product into several offerings, isn’t always perfect, Benioff said the company won’t always get it right but that trust is the essential component. "Our culture is built on trust," he said, according to TheStreet.com, which covered the presentation. He may have been referring to an unsuccessful push by employees to get Salesforce to pull its contract with Customs and Border Protection, which uses its cloud services, due to the family separations at the border.
Benioff also heaped praise on Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook, thanking him for his efforts in combating gender inequality and other societal woes. “You are somebody in our industry we all can follow," Benioff said during his keynote. Benioff can’t be blamed for heaping praise on Cook. It recently inked a partnership with Apple in which Apple products including Siri will be integrated into the apps Salesforce offers customers. As part of the partnership, a Salesforce app will come to Apple’s iOS while the two are also working to bring Face ID to the Salesforce app.
Block, who is focused on operations and strategy as co-CEO used his time along with co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Parker Harris to update attendees on Customer 360 and Einstein Voice. Customer 360 is a suite of business products including service, marketing, and commerce clouds while Einstein Voice is a new technology that lets customers talk to Salesforce and connect to AI. Einstein Voice works with Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa voice-activated digital assistant, making it possible for companies to build voice request into existing customer service systems. It’s all part of this idea that connected technologies will be combined to further drive innovation. “We don’t sit still in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” Parker said during the conference.