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‘She had the vision’ — Marc Benioff credits Rhode Island governor for inspiring Salesforce’s contact tracing tools

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff on Monday credited the governor of Rhode Island for inspiring the company to develop a newly launched batch of tools to help businesses reopen their workplaces during the global health crisis.

The company earlier that day announced the launch of Work.com, a platform to help firms mitigate the spread of coronavirus as employers ask employees to return to offices.

The state of Rhode Island was “impactful” in the development of the program, thanks to Gov. Gina Raimondo’s leadership, Benioff said in a “Mad Money” interview.

“She had the vision that she needed to couple contact tracing with [coronavirus] testing,” Benioff told Jim Cramer, adding that it helped the software maker to understand that “every organization is going to need to be able to deploy information technology, like contact tracing, to mitigate the spread of the virus as we enter phase two, which is what we’re getting ready to do now, getting ready to get back to work safely.”

As part of its response to the Covid-19 outbreak, the state of Rhode Island contracted Salesforce in April to develop a database to execute efficient contact tracing. The relationship also called for a process to let physicians order coronavirus testing at National Guard testing sites. Contact tracing is a method to identify individuals who came into contact with people infected with a virus in an effort to stop diseases from spreading further.

Contact tracing is seen as a critical factor in reopening workplaces as states lift stay-at-home sanctions. The White House is encouraging state officials to follow criteria to reopen economic activity in phases, which hinge on a decline in new Covid-19 infection rates across 14 days.

Employers are asked to continue to allow remote work if possible, but workers can be called back to the office if infection rates do not rebound, according to White House guidelines.

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“We need to do things that are going to help us to mitigate our interaction with the virus during phase two,” Benioff said.

Benioff pledged to make personal protective equipment available on site for employees and take the temperatures of people coming into Salesforce work sites.

Social distancing standards will also be enforced, including asking employees and customers to work 6 feet away from one another, he said. The Work.com platform will help businesses ensure the workplace is safe, he added.

Workplaces are “not going to bring everybody back at once. They’re going to bring them back in shifts, because if [a person in] one shift gets the virus, they’re going to quarantine that shift and keep the others going,” Benioff said. “All of these things are kind of next-generation apps, and we’re going to need to deploy those rapidly to our customers.”

Shares of Salesforce climbed 3% to $161.47 in Monday’s trading session.

Disclosure: Cramer’s charitable trust own shares of Salesforce.

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