What is Marc Benioff Reading

If you caught Marc’s keynote at Dreamforce this week, you might have noticed him refer to an IBM study that has been influencing his thinking. I thought I’d drill down into some of the study’s insights.

The study of 1700 executives finds that CEOs are creating more open and collaborative cultures to drive innovation. The study makes three areas to drive outperformance: empowering employees through values, engaging customers as individuals, and amplifying innovation through partnerships. 

“Empowering employees through values

For CEOs, organizational openness offers tremendous upside potential— empowered employees, free-flowing ideas, more creativity and innovation, happier customers, better results. But openness also comes with more risk. As rigid controls loosen, organizations need a strong sense of purpose and shared beliefs to guide decision making. Teams will need processes and tools that inspire collaboration on a massive scale. Perhaps most important, organizations must help employees develop traits to excel in this type of environment.

 Engaging customers as individuals

The pursuit of customer knowledge is as old as business itself, but where and how those insights are found and used are radically changing. To effectively engage an individual consumer, client or citizen, organizations must weave together insights about the whole person — from sources they likely haven’t consulted in the past. They will need stronger analytics capabilities to uncover patterns and answer questions they never thought to ask. Client-facing staff and channels must be equipped to act on those insights. And since customers are increasingly mobile, organizations must be active there too, ready to engage in the context of the moment.

Amplifying innovation with partnerships

Rising complexity and escalating competition have made partnering a core innovation strategy for many organizations. But to enable sustained, fruitful innovation partnerships, organizations will need deeper, more integrated relationships. Partnering organizations will have to share collaborative environments, share data — and share control. And even when the organization is performing well, CEOs must occasionally break from the status quo and introduce new external catalysts, unexpected partners and some intentionally disruptive thinking.”


According to the study, “Of all the external forces that could impact their organizations over the next three to five years, CEOs now see technology change as most critical.”

“More than half of all CEOs see human capital, customer relationships and innovation as key sources of sustained economic value.”

“To draw out the best in their workforces, CEOs are most focused on three organizational attributes.”


“CEOs are implementing extensive changes to enable faster, more relevant responses to markets and individuals.’


There are many more great insights from the the report. I encouraged you to check it out here.

Did you join us in San Francisco? What did you think?