Good morning, Data Sheet readers. I spent most of Tuesday chatting up venture capitalists about 2015 story ideas. Sounds like an active year is in store for business technology! Meanwhile, attendees of the big Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas are all fired up about the cool metrics that wearables can collect. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez have thoughts about what you should do with that data.
Intel’s $300 million diversity pledge. CEO Brian Krzanich used his Consumer Electronics Show keynote to talk up the chipmaker’s plan to increase its ranks of women, blacks, Hispanics and other minorities at least 14% over the next five years. P.S., he also highlighted new technology it wants to sell to smart eyeglasses, watch and wearables companies. New York Times, TechCrunch
Temper your enthusiasm, FTC chairman warns CES attendees. Fitness bands, medical devices, smart thermostats, and other gadgets connected to the Internet of things can collect oodles of consumer data. Edith Ramirez used her stage time in Las Vegas to warn data scientists and marketers to limit what they collect and destroy what they don’t need. Wall Street Journal
Sony CEO: Security breach won’t have material impact. Meanwhile, the controversial film at the center of the attack, The Interview, has pulled in $36 million between online downloads and movie theater screenings. What Kazuo Hirai didn’t address: how the media, technology and gaming company intends to prevent future attacks. After all, the last big one in 2011 cost roughly $171 million. Reuters, Fortune
Lenovo pauses on acquisitions. It’s got enough work on its hands, digesting people and technology from Motorola Mobility and IBM’s low-end server division. WSJ
Buyers’ group lobbies for Oracle software license reform. Ever hear of the London-based Campaign for Clear Licensing? Neither have I but, but the non-profit is recommending changes to how the big enterprise company handles audits and updates. After launching in Europe, it’s getting more vocal in North America. InformationWeek
RESEARCH & PREDICTIONS
Where the Salesforce VC arm will spend money in 2015. The $100 million fund has four priorities for investments—enterprise mobile technology, wearables, machine learning, and industry-specific software applications. San Francisco Business Times
STARTUPS & DISRUPTORS
$250 million bet on digital marketing. Silver Lake just invested $250 million in Red Ventures, a 15-year-old North Carolina company that specializes in customer acquisition for the likes of DirectTV, MetLife and Verizon. NYT
Stripe scores Kickstarter business. Its payments technology will now process funding pledges for all projects on the crowdsourcing site, replacing a discontinued service from Amazon. Other notable Stripe customers include Lyft, OpenTable, and Salesforce. TechCrunch
Verizon customers, brace yourself. Would your company ever willing take its data center offline for two days? I thought not, but apparently Verizon didn’t get that memo. It’s shutting down its new business cloud services “for maintenance” later this week. Kudos for transparency. But instead, maybe it should make the changes invisible. Computerworld
POLICY & STRATEGY
Why Marc Benioff really, really loves Fitbit
The Salesforce CEO sees fitness trackers and other wearables as a most intimate customer relationship tool. Fortune senior writer Michal Lev-Ram documents his rationale from an exclusive dinner at CES.
When Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff took the stage at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech dinner in Las Vegas Monday night, he used the opportunity to profess his love for Fitbit, maker of wearable activity trackers.
Why? According to Benioff, the startup is an apt metaphor for what he calls a “one-to-one customer journey”—an intimate way companies can connect with their customers. (Fitbit, it should be noted, is a Salesforce customer.)
Just a few weeks ago, before taking off for a vacation at his Hawaii home, Benioff says he received a new Fitbit in the mail.
“I put it on right away and I started a journey with them,” Benioff told his interviewer, Fortune senior editor-at-large Adam Lashinsky, and the roomful of marketing executives in attendance. “As soon as I got the product I put the app on my phone. Then I had to sign up and I got an email from them [Fitbit].”
Benioff said Fitbit tried to upsell him, asking if he’d also be interested in buying a “connected” scale. He also received an email asking if he would be interested in connecting with everyone else in his social media network that is also a Fitbit user.
“Suddenly I go from receiving a package in the mail to having multiple products and being connected to my friends and receiving multiple emails,” Benioff said. (Speaking of his friends, after signing up for the Fitbit “community” he received an email from Michael Dell—also a Fitbit user—asking if he was OK. It turned out Benioff hadn’t been very active that day.)
As companies pursue these kinds of new customer interactions online and offline, Benioff hopes his company will be the one to provide the software that enables them to do so. When he founded Salesforce 15 years ago, the idea was to give the sales organizations of companies an easier way to connect with customers. That “way” was software delivered as a service via the cloud.
“Then this incredible shift happened which was our customers came to us and said, we want to connect with our customers in new ways,” Benioff said. “We call it marketing, but it’s not really marketing—it’s about customer management.“
The barrage of newly-possible customer interactions has led to an influx of data. Fitbit, for example, can know a user’s location, friends, physical activity, and heart rate. But even Benioff admits there’s a downside to all of that information.
“We’re all heading to creepy,” he told the roomful of marketers at the Fortune dinner. “We all know that.”
The data present another challenge: Even though companies can now collect mountains of data on their customers, it doesn’t mean they know what to do with it. For example, Benioff said he shared his heart rate data, collected through his Fitbit, with his doctor.
“I sent it to my cardiologist and you know what he said?” Benioff asked. “He said, ‘I have no idea.’”
Still, the outspoken CEO is convinced that this kind of intimate customer relationship is the future.
“This is a metaphor,” Benioff said. “The reason I’m telling this story is so that you can get an idea of where we are going in the world, with everything getting connected.”
As you might expect in front of a roomful of marketing executives, another topic of conversation during the Brainstorm Tech interview was the evolving role of marketing in an increasingly connected enterprise. Visit Fortune.com for a two-minute video of why Benioff thinks the “CEO is now in charge of the customer relationship.”
MY FORTUNE.COM BOOKMARKS
Mercedes unveils a lounge on four wheels By Ben Geier
This tech will help you keep a New Year’s resolution By Jason Cipriani
5 trends to expect: The year ahead in tech By Verne Kopytoff
The devil wears de la Renta By Erin Griffith
FOR YOUR INNER TECHNOPHILE
Google renews commitment to renewables. It will invest $188 million to help build Utah’s biggest solar power plant—capable of producing 210 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. (That’s enough power to run 18,500 homes.) So far, the Internet giant has spend at least $1.5 billion on solar and wind projects. WSJ
ONE MORE THING
Inside job in Morgan Stanley data breach. What motivated a relatively junior financial advisor to allegedly steal thousands of confidential client records, let alone post the details online to make money from it? An even better question: how did he manage to get around the firm’s security protocols in the first place? WSJ
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
National Retail Federation: Technology showcase. (Jan. 11 – 14; New York)
IBM ConnectED: Collaboration and digital experience. (Jan. 25 – 28; Orlando, Florida)
IBM Interconnect: Cloud and mobile strategy. (Feb. 22 – 26; Las Vegas)
Gartner CIO Leadership Forum: Digital business strategy. (March 1 – 3; Phoenix)
Microsoft Convergence: Dynamics solutions. (March 16 – 19; Atlanta)
IDC Directions 2015: Innovation in the 3rd Platform era. (March 18; Boston)
Cisco Leadership Council: CIO-CEO thought leadership. (March 18 – 20; Kiawah Island, South Carolina)
Gartner Business Intelligence & Analytics Summit: Crossing the divide. (March 30 – April 1; Las Vegas)
Knowledge15: Automate IT services. (April 19 – 24; Las Vegas)
RSA Conference: The world talks security. (April 20 – 24; San Francisco)
Forrester’s Forum for Technology Leaders: Win in the age of the customer. (April 27 – 28; Orlando, Fla.)
MicrosoftIgnite: Business tech extravaganza. (May 4 – 8; Chicago)
NetSuite SuiteWorld: Cloud ERP strategy. (May 4 – 7; San Jose, California)
EMC World: Data strategy. (May 4 – 7; Las Vegas)
SAPPHIRE NOW: The SAP universe. (May 5 – 7; Orlando, Florida)
Gartner Digital Marketing Conference: Reach your destination faster. (May 5 – 7; San Diego)
Annual Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference: JP Morgan’s 43rd invite-only event. (May 18 – 20; Boston)
HP Discover: Trends and technologies. (June 2 – 4; Las Vegas)