Salesforce.com gives up bid to trademark 'social enterprise'
Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM) has given up its effort to trademark "social enterprise," a term that has become a popular way to refer to enterprises that embrace social media technology.
In making the announcement, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff said: "It was never our intention to create confusion in the social sector which we have supported since our founding. As a result of the feedback we received, salesforce.com has decided to withdraw its efforts to trademark the term 'social enterprise' and plans to discontinue its use in our marketing."
Analysts believe the reversal comes because the company is preparing to launch a major marketing effort at the upcoming DreamForce conference.
"According to Salesforce.com's own marketing material the Social Enterprise can be defined as 'Intentionally using social media to engage with customers and deliver an experience that builds brand loyalty for the enterprise'. Having decided to withdraw its application to trademark the words 'Social Enterprise' at the behest of the not-for-profit sector, the company's marketing investment in that phrase will alas not earn brand loyalty for Salesforce.com," Katy Ring with K2 Advisory told BusinessCloud9.
The Social Enterprise Alliance said they were "delighted" by Salesforce.com's decision to withdraw the trademark application. "[W]e tip our hat to salesforce.com and its chairman and CEO, Marc Benioff, for listening to our feedback and doing the right thing on this issue," the industry group said on its web site.
In a recent global survey of 3,478 business executives, managers and analysts released by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte, a majority of respondents said they believe that social business--a term that describes the same trend as social enterprise--is important or somewhat important to their businesses.
Also, 86 percent of managers said they expect social business to be important or somewhat important in three years.
Survey respondents said that marketing, sales and customer service are driving the move toward social business. The most important use of social media software is for management customer relationships, followed by innovation for competitive differentiation.
"Like any emerging technology trend, social business can seem perpetually just out of reach. Let's wait a year, the thinking goes. It's not quite real, not quite ready for prime time. If that's your approach to social business, you may be overestimating the amount of effort it takes to start putting this trend to work for your organization today," commented MIT professor Alex Pentland in the summary of the survey.
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