Oct 092012
sales methods are changing in an era of cloud computing and social media

“Those companies are not going to be winners in the long term. We’re very happy to work with the fastest growing companies in the world; the companies who understand that people are core to who they are,” says Daniel Debow, Vice President of Salesforce’s Work.com at the recent Dreamforce conference.

Debow was talking about companies that aren’t interested in social software, or those who don’t have the infrastructure or management culture to implement changes which reflect the modern workplace.

When writing about social and cloud services one thing that jumps out is just how unprepared many businesses, big and small, are for changes that are happening in both the workplace and the market.

The story of Work.com reflects those changes – the idea behind Rypple and Work.com, which was born out of Salesforce’s 2011 acquisiton of Rypple, is that workplaces are inherently social.

“We spend as much more time with the people we work than with our families. It matters to us what our workmates think” says Daniel so Work.com gathers the social intelligence within the business to give people real time feedback on their performance.

The Rypple idea lies in the inadequacy of existing HR software and management practices. Daniel says, “today this model we have it’s totally not reflective of the reality of how people work; people are more connected, they’re collaborative, more realtime.”

This collaborative and realtime way of doing business challenges the structures in many businesses and the methods of a lot of managers. Many are ill-equipped to deal with a more open and transparent way of managing their teams.

In fact, software like work.com and its competitor Workday make some of those older style managers redundant, particularly those whose roles involve little more than box ticking and following the strictures of the company’s procedure manual as this can be done better by a computer program.

The problem for many organisations, both private and public, is they have become more focused on cossetting and protecting the box ticking bureaucrats of middle and upper management rather than delivering service to their customers and supporting their staff responsible for keeping clients happy.

Something that jumps out when you talk to entrepreneurs like Daniel Debow and others building new social and cloud companies is their lack of interest in selling to those organisations, their view is the old school companies are dinosaurs on the path to extinction.

Dinosaurs though lasted a lot longer than we often think and the same is true of the current generation of zombie companies being kept alive by government or investors too scared to book the losses which the failure of these enterprises would entail.

While those dinosaurs are going to be a drag on our economies for the next decade or two, the real opportunities – and rewarding work – is with those businesses who want to change and aren’t run for the administrative convenience of their managers.

The question for many business owners and managers is whether companies like Rypple or Workday could be bothered selling to you. If you’re not, it’s time to consider your exit strategy – or lobby your local politician for some subsidies.

Paul travelled to Dreamforce courtesy of Salesforce.com

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