Salesforce.com's chairman and CEO Marc Benioff has lauded Facebook as the catalyst for the company's cloud computing direction.
At the CloudForce 2 conference in Singapore, Benioff described his vision of 'Cloud 2' and 'collaboration as a service' to an overflowing auditorium.
"The catalyst [for] Salesforce [initially] was asking the simple question: 'Why isn't all enterprise software like Amazon.com?'" said Benioff, who founded the company in 1999.
"Now the question is 'why isn't all enterprise software like Facebook?'"
Benioff described a 'powerful, fundamental shift' from low-cost, fast and user-friendly Cloud 1 platforms to Cloud 2, which had collaborative, real-time and mobile capabilities.
Big talk on Chatter
Salesforce.com's upcoming enterprise collaboration tool, Chatter, attracted a great deal of interest at the customer event.
Chatter applies Facebook-like elements including profile pages, status updates and file and link sharing capabilities to the enterprise - for example, allowing projects to be tracked and discussed by having employees "follow" the project page.
It also integrates feeds from Twitter and Google Wave, is compatible with iPhones, Blackberry devices and iPads, and can be built into custom platforms.
Benioff said Chatter provided CEOs like himself with social intelligence beyond the "bubble" that they often found themselves trapped in.
"In 2009, something very important happened: [the number of] social networking users surpassed email users," he told conference attendees.
"A lot of first generation Internet sites have just gone away ... what's growing is things like social networking, YouTube, video.
"We're moving into a new desktop-less world," he said. "The iPad is the single most exciting thing I've ever used -- that's what's hot."
A beta version of Chatter is currently available to 1350 of Salesforce.com's global customers, over 50 of which operate in the Asia Pacific region.
One of these customers is CA Technologies, whose workflow management tool Agile Vision features a Chatter feed that also integrates with its 'virtual wall'.
Chatter will go into production on 1 June and be made available to all customers with a major Salesforce.com update on 22 June, company executives said.