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Salesforce co-founder Parker Harris hamming it up with CEO Marc Benioff at a company event. (Photo:
Salesforce co-founder Parker Harris hamming it up with CEO Marc Benioff. (Photo: Salesforce)

Salesforce is one of the dominant players in the emerging cloud market, and the San Francisco-based company’s profile has been boosted even further with the recent news that it could be an acquisition target. According to one of the company’s co-founders, one key to Salesforce’s process is a willingness to embrace new technologies to see how the company can use them.

“We’re a very iterative company, so we jump on basically all new technology,” said Parker Harris, the Salesforce co-founder and longtime technology leader, in an interview with GeekWire, prior to the recent reports that the company had been approached by an unnamed potential acquirer.

Parker Harris

For example, Salesforce was one of the first companies invited to develop for the Apple Watch, but its use of wearable technology didn’t start there. The company has a set of Salesforce Wear developer tools that work on a variety of platforms, including the Pebble and Samsung Gear devices. Salesforce’s iterative developer process means that the company seeks applications for new technologies as they arrive, to better evaluate what those technologies could mean for its business going forward.

In Harris’s view, it’s an important stance for Salesforce to take, especially since the customer relationship management (CRM) software world is rapidly changing along with the launch of new technologies.

“For me, what’s crazy is (how) CRM has really evolved, and keeps evolving,” Harris said. “When we started the company, people said ‘Oh, the SMB market’s only so big, and you’re only going to do so much.’ But as we went through cloud, mobile, social and now data science and the Internet of Things, we’re beginning to see this evolution of what it means to the customer relationship and how you’re selling, marketing and supporting customers.”

Looking forward, Salesforce is putting a lot of work into harnessing data gleaned from integrated devices that are part of the Internet of Things. The company is in the process of building a real-time event management service that can handle signals from devices like thermostats and act on them. Parker says the new service wouldn’t have come into existence without the company’s previous work on devices like the Raspberry Pi.

Being among the first companies on a new platform is also a good way to score publicity for Salesforce, he acknowledged. Taking a “super early adopter” stance means that Salesforce can do things like take part in the press around the Apple Watch launch and drive greater interest in its products.

“We do a lot of outbound work where we’re talking about the future,” Harris said. “As we get involved with these new products, it helps us have a platform to talk about where the future is going.”

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