By Scott McCorkle
I first wrote the word metaverse on a whiteboard in October 2017. Wrapping up a multi-hour design session, we were searching for a word to describe a new mindset and approach to enterprise software that answered the question, “How should one build a modern customer relationship management (CRM) platform in today’s world, where every company is a digital company that needs more connection with its partners and ecosystem?” My former boss Marc Benioff was fond of challenging his team to think with a beginner’s mind. I took this with me as I left my role running the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, and it led me to the metaverse.
Much of the world associates the metaverse with avatars and immersive VR experiences, which is key for consumers and some business applications, but this new computing paradigm offers a more foundational and transformative opportunity for the business world.
To see how, let’s first step into the innovation we call B2B SaaS, business-to-business software-as-a-service. In 1999, Salesforce was a pioneer making enterprise-class software available as an internet service. For reasons obvious now, it’s far more efficient to acquire enterprise software through a browser than to receive physical media to install on one’s own servers. However, it’s fair to say that the mindset of enterprise software in a SaaS model is largely the same as the prior on-premise world. Companies subscribe to a SaaS application, get access to their instance, and then begin to automate some transactionally-oriented workflow internal to their company. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not where innovation ends. SaaS is an innovation of distribution, and we are nearing the end of this innovation cycle.