I had the pleasure of meeting a lot of attendees a few weeks ago at the Salesforce1 event in Munich. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff gave the keynote and as is now customary, invited several local customer CIOs (Coca-Cola, Deutsch Telekom, Roche, Software AG among others) to talk about how Salesforce is helping them execute their strategic business plans.

All the CIOs shared how they need to run faster with a strategy that involves stabilizing and pulling data out of the back office (often times SAP), and moving the front office to the cloud (invariably on Salesforce). As a result, they are improving customer relationships, becoming easier to work with, AND can run faster than ever before. The same discussion resurfaced again the following week at the Force United CIO Summit.

Perhaps because we were in SAP’s backyard, the message was delivered politely, but the message was very clear: Speed is the new business imperative.

Hiding behind slow ERP-centric infrastructure is now a tired excuse because more and companies are finding born-in-the-cloud solutions to be a competitive advantage – easier to deploy, lower TCO, broader and faster user adoption, greater flexibility, and superior capabilities along with a dramatically faster roadmap.

Many companies have bulk of their IT budget tied with big, on-premise software. But increasingly, CIOs are moving their customer-centric processes and systems into a cloud-based front office, helping them avoid endless internal political battles, reduce capex expenses, and more importantly, allow their companies to move faster and more decisively in their respective markets.

Typically these transitions unfold gradually over a couple of years before reaching an inflection point where companies realizes they need to get on board before they get behind. This happened around 2010 when BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) picked up steam. Suddenly enterprises removed all barriers to iPhones and the Blackberry’s hegemony was over.

Are we there with enterprises running on “born in the cloud” software applications? The CIOs in Germany seemed to say a resounding yes.

For more on the evolving role of the CIO, please download the following white paper Revenue Growth and IT Agility on the Salesforce1 Platform.

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