As founder and CEO of Salesforce.com, Marc Benioff has spent more than a decade freeing businesses from complex client-server systems, and shifting them to CRM in the cloud. The big question -- where is the next Benioff, and what will he do for technology-focused SMBs and I.T. entrepreneurs who crave SaaS options? The answer may emerge this week.
My thesis goes a bit like this: Salesforce.com is nearly an industry standard solution for cloud-centric CRM. Sure, there are open source and cloud alternatives (example: SugarCRM). And giants like Oracle Corp. (Oracle Sales) and Microsoft Corp. (Dynamics CRM) are now heavy in the market.
But those are the obvious players. To find the next potential Marc Benioff you need to look outside of the traditional cloud CRM landscape, especially when it comes to the cloud-centric business market. Perhaps the next Benioff is on a university campus somewhere, writing some code and getting ready to drop out of college to pursue a business dream.
The other real possibility is that the next Benioff grew up on the small business IT market, and he (or she) is getting ready to unveil a major "next" move -- perhaps even a pivot move -- that lands in the mainstream media. If I had to guess, the next Benioff is on a family road trip right now. With a few thousand close friends along for the ride.
That's all I have to say for now. But if I'm right, please credit After Nines Inc. for seeing all the signals before they emerged in black and white...