This year salesforce.com was ranked the most innovative company, fourth year in a row, by the Forbes Magazine. The company that was founded in 1999 by Marc Benioff and Parker Harris is a global leader in CRM, credited with pioneering enterprise cloud computing and inspiring a new philanthropic model.
As any company gets bigger, its becomes more and more difficult for the company to innovate and move quickly. Marc Benioff, the co founder and CEO of salesforce.com however has proved this wrong. Benioff has managed to create an operating model for the company with innovation as its central theme. “Innovation is a continuum. You have to think about how the world is evolving and transforming. Are you part of the continuum?” he says. In this article we look at some of the ways in which salesforce.com has managed to bag the title for so many years.
- Salesforce.com constantly keeps brainstorming for coming up with small tools that can make the customers life a little bit easier – but can then grow into big projects. The ‘Today’ app, a scheduler and virtual assistant for salespeople is an example of one such project. This product was conceptualized at an offsite in Carmel-by-the-Sea hosted by sales cloud chief Linda Crawford, a veteran of Salesforce for eight-plus years. She gathered her project managers and marketers for a day and a half to come up with one great idea that can help sales reps on the move and thus was born the ‘Today’ app.
- To make sure that the executives are energized and to make sure that they stay within the company, salesforce encourages their managers to move around every several years. This is true for employees in rank and file. Engineers and managers can jump out to projects they find interesting at annual internal job fairs that the company holds where each unit chief communicates the vision of his particular group. Salesforce is known to offer more entrepreneurship within the positions and promotes a corporate culture of more freedom.
- Benioff is known in the industry for the immense vision with which he runs the company. With his executives, he tells them his broader vision and lets them ‘figure out’ the rest. Letting is employees ‘figure things out’ by themselves also promotes a culture of innovation and gives a boost to many new ideas. “They can’t look to me for all the answers. I don’t have them, and that’s not our culture,” Benioff says. “They are coming to me with their ideas and their visions. It’s not my role to be the only visionary in town.”
- Other than promoting a culture of entrepreneurship within the company, Benioff himself makes sure he is well connected with people in different industries, and also people from different generations. Ideas come from everywhere – customer, partners and the marketplace he says.
- Benioff sees the future, and demands that you come with him. This helps salesforce customer to see the solutions they had not even imagined existed.