Salesforce.Com Names Its First Chief Scientist

Salesforce.com has named ex-BT chief scientist JP Rangaswami to a job with the same name.

Salesforce.com has named JP Rangaswami, formerly chief scientist of BT Group, to a newly created position of the same name, the company said Wednesday.

Rangaswami will report directly to Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff. His job will be to "help European customers think about innovative ways to use the real-time, mobile and social capabilities provided by Salesforce apps and the Force.com platform," as well as contribute to the company's general product strategy.

He brings to Salesforce.com 30 years of experience working with technology at large enterprises, including the investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, as well as an expansive and forward-looking philosophy toward enterprise software.

"I believe that it is only a matter of time before enterprise software consists of only four types of application: publishing, search, fulfillment and conversation," reads a statement on his personal blog. "I believe that weaknesses and corruptions in our own thinking about digital rights and intellectual property rights will have the effect of slowing down or sometimes even blocking this from happening."

The latter statement reflects Rangaswami's reputation as an advocate of open-source software, but it's not clear whether Salesforce.com will be influenced in that direction.

But his appointment does represent another effort by the vendor to present itself as much more than the on-demand CRM (customer relationship management) software for which it is best known.

Salesforce.com has partly succeeded in doing so, but the company's very name means it will be impossible to completely shed the CRM tag, said Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research.

Benioff is likely being influenced by history. "There were lessons learned in [CRM vendor] Siebel's demise that resonated with everyone in the industry," Wang said. "Siebel was seen as a one-trick pony" because it failed to get its Project Nexus development platform out in time, and was ultimately acquired by Oracle, he said.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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