Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com's cofounder and CEO is clearly a visionary. He got that way because of Steve Jobs, he told a group of journalists attending his company's annual Dreamforce conference in San Francisco this week.
And with Jobs gone, the job of visionary falls more heavily on him – and everyone else.
Salesforce.com "needs to be" for enterprise customers, "what Steve Jobs has always been to me," Benioff said. "To be visionary and paint the future as much as possible."
For instance, Benioff told the story of meeting with the CEO of GE, Jeffrey Immelt. Immelt had asked a group of tech CEOs to come to GE and tell him about the future of tech. Benioff admits he was intimated and that the meeting was "not all smooth sailing ... what was supposed to be 20 minute conversation, turned into a couple of hours."
While the other tech CEOs "pitched their products," Benioff asked Immelt to imagine a world where GE engines and products were intelligent and connected to social media streams. Immelt liked it! GE launched a test where they took the data feed of a GE engine that was installed in a Japanese airliner and hooked it up to a Facebook-like social media stream. Engineers could track the engine's status in real time.
Benioff, known for his larger-than-life ego, had genuinely humble point to make. He says that with Jobs gone, we all need to step up and become visionaries for our respective industries.
"We are really missing in this industry a great leader. So we all have to pitch in. That's how I approach this. I'm trying to get customers to be visionary for themselves and to see their future and what it's going to mean to them. I hope all of our peers are doing that. We all need to be helping, collectively, build a vision -- not me individually."
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