CEOs are investing absolutely unprecedented amounts on enterprise technology to turn their companies into end-to-end digital businesses, says Salesforce.com co-CEO Marc Benioff.
” I’ve never seen such a robust spending environment,” said Benioff on his company’s fiscal Q2 earnings call with analysts this week.
“I’ve never seen CEOs spend so aggressively.”
The goal? Digital transformation—and while that specific term has been overused and beaten almost to death, the underlying concept is completely legitimate as billions of consumers across the world are looking to lead increasingly digital lifestyles, and are demanding that businesses digitalize in order to keep pace.
And while Benioff has cited the digital-transformation trend during various earnings call over the past several quarters, his comments this week were more pointed and bullish than ever before.
“Probably the number one thing that those CEOs are spending on is their own digital transformations—they’re really trying to position their companies for the future,” said Benioff.
In addition to the internally driven requirements to become digital enterprises, those CEOs are also unleashing those IT investments in reaction to the recent federal tax cuts and to the current administration’s focus on cutting down on the levels of regulation businesses must deal with, Benioff said on the call.
“They’ve benefitted really dramatically from these tax cuts and also from the deregulation focus, especially in the United States,” he said.
“And it doesn’t matter if it’s an American CEO or a European CEO or an Asian CEO—I’ve had conversations with all of them recently and I can tell you that across the board, I don’t know a CEO who is not aggressively spending at a level that I have not seen them spend at before.”
Behind Benioff’s bullishness is his belief that a primary driver of these sweeping upheavals within companies across every industry and around the world is the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a phenomenon that he sais is “altering the human experience in ways we’ve never experienced before.”
And here’s how Benioff framed his view of what that means.
“[Salesforce’s] drive to $23 billion in revenue in fiscal year ’22 and beyond is being driven by a technological revolution that’s fundamentally transforming our society, the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In terms of its size, depth, capability and speed, this revolution is altering the human experience in ways we’ve never experienced before,” he said.
“Our customers are going through an amazing digital transformation, each and every one of them, and it starts and ends with their customers. And as every company transforms their relationships with their customers using amazing technologies from artificial intelligence to the cloud itself, they are fundamentally changing how they sell and how they service and how they market and how they innovate.
“They’re connecting with their customers in a whole new way—they’re building incredible new intelligent 360-degree views of their customers, and they’re using extraordinary new tools to make faster and better-informed decisions,” Benioff said.
“And at the heart of all those transformations is Salesforce.”
That’s a pretty powerful perspective, and even more so as it comes from the founder of one of the fastest-growing software companies in history—because during Salesforce’s 20-year high-velocity adventure, Benioff has seen lots of temporary spending spurts come and go.
But it was clear from Benioff’s specific remarks as noted here, plus his overall commentary throughout the call, that the current tech-investment blitz—spurred as it is by both micro and macro factors—is not simply a short-term fad.
“I’ve never seen such a robust spending environment.”
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