And you say you want a revolution, we all want to change the world….

Once upon a time Salesforce.com was a startup that provided hosted Sales Automation solutions. Co- founded by former Oracle executive and Larry Ellison protégé, Marc Benioff, the company’s explicitly stated mission was “the End of Software.”

Today Benioff is credited by many, including Wikipedia, for “turning the software industry on its head” for using the Internet to “revamp the way software programs are designed and distributed.” Salesforce’s annual user conference, Dreamforce, which ends today, welcomed more than 90,000 registered participants (I suspect some of them virtual), displacing Oracle OpenWorld as the largest Enterprise software conference in the world.

Fait accompli Mr. Benioff?

Apparently not. A guy like Benioff, who walks over hot coals and jumps off tall bridges in the dark of the night, isn’t the type who rests on his laurels.

Last Tuesday, using a Show ‘N Tell keynote as his medium, Benioff declared revolution again.

If the Salesforce CEO has his way, a few years from now, information workers all over the planet will be working from his company’s “social stream”, Chatter, and their desktops might look like Enterprise versions of Facebook.

Altimeter Group founder and author of best-selling Groundswell, Charlene Li, summarized Benioff’s keynote in a tweet:

CharleneLiTweet.jpg

And if you look at everything that Salesforce has acquired of late and with how the purchases are integrated into Salesforce’s various clouds, it’s hard to argue Li.

Consider that since 2010 Salesforce has purchased:

  • Sitemasher, now known as site.com
  • Activa Live Chat, now known as Salesforce Live Agent
  • Heroku, a Cloud Application Platform to deploy and scale powerful apps
  • Etacts, a technology that connects with your Gmail account (using oAuth), and integrates with your inbox to build out your list of contacts. The service also allows you to connect your mobile phone and will track who you talk to frequently over the phone or SMS
  • Dimdim which provides for real time, rich-media collaboration and meetings
  • Manymoon (Fe) -- now known as Do.com
  • Radian6 which helps companies listen to what people are saying about them online and engage in those conversations across the social web
  • Assistly, now known as Desk.com -- Model Metrics which delivers applications and services as part of the Software-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service
  • Rypple (now Work.com) an application for Social Employee Performance Management
  • Stypi, a collaborative real-time text editor
  • Buddy Media, the social enterprise software of choice for eight of the world’s top ten global advertisers
  • ChoicePass, a customized corporate perks and employee rewards technology company
  • Thinkfuse, an enterprise SaaS provider that integrates closely with email to streamline scheduled communications
  • GoInstant, a co-browsing solution that allows two or more people to browse the web together in a real-time interactive session.

Much of the Dreamforce Conference was spent explaining how all of these acquisitions will be/have been integrated into Salesforce to transform the workplaces of today into the socially connected Enterprises of tomorrow.

Now Salesforce didn’t buy and bolt-on all of its new solutions. One significant technology that they have built (or are still building) in-house is Chatterbox, the new file-synching and sharing add-on to Salesforce Chatter.

It’s worth noting that initially Chatterbox looked to be Salesforce’s attempt to annihilate the likes of Dropbox, Box, Syncplicity and the like. In retrospect, there may be some credence to Benioff’s kumbaya-like claim that there’s room in the pond for all of us. Consider that Salesforce’s Social Enterprise platform, if it comes to pass, will indeed need its own file-synching/sharing solution so that users don’t have to leave the Chatter “stream” to sync and share files. A solution outside of Salesforce would have been too big a risk or wouldn’t have worked well as changes were made.

Final Thoughts to End the Day 

As Dreamforce closes, it seems that, if Benioff has his way, knowledge workers will face Facebook-like screens during the workday.

Many of us will love the idea, others will want to barf. But as for the latter, how many use Facebook, regardless of the way they feel about it, because Facebook is where their friends are? If Social Salesforce, regardless of what it looks like, is where your coworkers, customers and business partners are going to be, you’ll be there too.