Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce conference is unlike anything in the technology world. With it arguably incomparable to another technology event on the planet, 170 thousand people from all over the planet cram into the San Francisco metro area over four manic days.
The event takes inspiration from the Hawaiian idea of Ohana, of families bound together, which Salesforce uses to join the customers, partners, developers and ISVs that make up their rich ecosystem. Reflecting the company’s Californian roots the event is equal part social movement and technology celebration. Michelle Obama, Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman are the drawcards for keynotes talking on themes from pay equality to innovation. Mindfulness monks wander the fake grass and real tress in the Moscone centre to help delegates find inner peace.
But this America, this is Salesforce and behind the Woodstock façade the constant hustle for more product consumption is never far from mind. Watching the world’s leading sales machine in action is an awe-inspiring sight.
Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the lack of announcements and maybe it was the recent bush fires, but this year’s conference had a more muted tone. Not lacking in confidence or pizazz, the conference had an incremental feel. It was a big show without much big news. The talk of the village was:
AI everywhere: Salesforce’s AI Platform, Einstein®, took further shape, embedding and surfacing into core Sales and Service Clouds. It is still early days, but there is immense promise in this new Smarter CRM as new way of thinking about engaging customers. For customers who have most of their data on the Platform, it will provide opportunities to rethink how they do business.
Google tie up: it seems early days in the partnership, but provides an alternative infrastructure platform for global data centres, as well as embedding Google data and productivity tools into the Salesforce Platform. The world’s leading Enterprise and Consumer clouds combining could be industry changing.
The ambition that burns in Salesforce was on vivid display. CRM isn’t their end goal, just a launching pad to enable customers to do whatever their business needs in an agile, AI-driven, cloud-native way.
Salesforce #CRM is just a launching pad to enable customers to do whatever their business needs in an agile, #AI-driven, cloud-native way.
In doing so, they want to make the world a better place. As a company, they showcase their values of equality, wellbeing and giving back. Their recent trailblazing in gender pay equality reinforces their long-term sincerity.
A large contingent hopped over the Pacific from Australia and New Zealand filling out the APAC lounge at the W Hotel. Noticeable this year was the size of the customers. The majority of ANZs largest employers as well as an increasing number of public sector organizations were well represented.
In making the journey, delegates picked up appreciation for the scale of the Salesforce ecosystem. Global SIs are all there, as well as an increasingly impressive number of significant, well-funded ISV partners who have built their business on the Platform. Pleasingly, a growing number of ANZ ISV start-ups were there making a splash. Beyond the large players, an incredible two rugby pitches of space were crammed with tiny booths dedicated to solving niches in the product ecosystem.
Marc Benioff’s four days of inspired showmanship, Ohana, altruism and hustle all standout like technicolour on an otherwise black and white technology calendar.
Summarizing an event this large is never easy, but in our next post, we’ll be sharing our top takeaways and what they mean for the market, the Platform and the enterprise.