The Salesforce event of the year, Dreamforce, wrapped up September 28. More than 170,000 people were in attendance, representing 83 different countries during the annual conference. Additionally, more than 10 million virtual attendees took in portions of the event during the massive four-day conference.
With those kinds of numbers, it may be hard to imagine that Dreamforce is just an annual user conference. However, as the event gained notoriety and the platform became more successful, the simple conference exploded into a full-fledged, multiday extravaganza, including everything from world-renowned speakers, enticing learning sessions, major company announcements, and even parties and concerts.
Salesforce is a giant in the CRM world, with many considering it “the” solution in the space. Fans of the platform, often referred to as Trailblazers, flock to the conference each year to learn what is on the horizon for the technology, allowing them to be at the forefront of new developments.
As is the tradition, Salesforce used the event to unveil exciting technologies and highlight new strategic partnerships that will make the solution even more robust, giving their partners new ways to connect with customers, make the most of their data, and otherwise enhance productivity.
Here are some key takeaways and other highlights from Dreamforce 2018.
Marc Benioff’s Keynote
While Marc’s keynote typically stands out, the Salesforce founder, chairman and co-CEO took listeners by surprise this year. Delivering the speech on his birthday, Marc didn’t mention any Salesforce products as he spoke. Instead, he called on leaders to help craft a better world and expressed his dedication to advancing inclusive capitalism.
An underlying theme of Dreamforce was how connected technologies are driving the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.” Marc emphasized the key to success in today’s highly competitive and market is the ability to connect with the customer. “Everything is starting to get connected. And behind all of these things is the customer.” Marc stressed the importance of harnessing the speed of change to make positive impact and foretold that technology will never be changing slower that it is today.
Marc spent much of the event furthering his message, stressing the importance of trust and having strong values over merely seeking profits. Plus, he highlighted the need for companies to be able to express how their efforts align with that core message and the need for businesses to be the source of positive change.
Industry Alignment Efforts
As a means of spurring greater growth, Salesforce is targeting seven industries, working to achieve a higher level of expertise in each of the verticals. The company has hired executives from each of the segments – communications, financial services, government, healthcare and life sciences, higher education, manufacturing, and nonprofit – to help lead efforts in their respective areas.
While the move certainly benefits Salesforce from a business perspective, allowing them to target untapped opportunities for substantial growth, Salesforce users will also experience gains, especially if their business resides on one of the seven verticals.
Integration is typically a hot topic in the technology space, especially since by bringing different solutions together seamlessly, productivity can be enhanced. Redundant data entry can often be eliminated through integration, streamlining processes. Additionally, when data from multiple sources is accessible in a single platform, drawing meaningful conclusions by reviewing the complete picture is easier to accomplish.
After acquiring MuleSoft, Salesforce used the technology to create the core of its Integration Cloud, a solution aimed at providing companies with a thorough view of their customers. Now, the new Customer 360 capability is offering a simplified means of connecting data between the full range of Salesforce clouds (Sales, Service, Marketing, and Commerce), providing a method for obtaining deeper customer profiles.
Not only does Customer 360 offer a point-and-click interface, making it highly intuitive, it also provides access to unique customer attributes and identifiers, including a universal record ID to keep everything connected. Plus, prebuilt packages enable robust cross-channel experiences, bolstering information accessibility and productivity.
Advances in AI
While artificial intelligence was introduced as part of Salesforce’s portfolio two Dreamforce conferences ago, the Einstein platform has only become more advanced with time. Natural language capabilities were presented during the event, giving users the ability to interact with the system more naturally, AI enhanced voice dictation and even craft chatbots to support customers.
Einstein Voice adds conversational AI to the various Salesforce solutions. It helps communication between users and computers be more intuitive and seamless and may even be faster in many cases. Not only will the voice-based inputs be recordable, Salesforce can even analyze the information and determine if any CRM fields or tasks need updating as well.
Over time, the machine learning technology will even adapt to individual businesses, allowing words, phrases and other internal jargon specific to a company to be recorded. Three use cases are in the works for the more advanced voice capabilities, but it highlights where the technology is headed and what users can expect in the (likely near) future.
New iOS Business Apps
One of the biggest announcements was the joint effort between Salesforce and Apple to create new mobile business apps. Not only will the Salesforce app redesign work seamlessly with iOS devices, it will also provide users with new features that will be available exclusively on Apple’s mobile platform.
Additionally, Salesforce and Apple are providing developers with a range of tools and resources for building their own native apps. This enables the creation of unique solutions based on a company’s specific needs, giving them the ability to improve productivity and increase efficiency.
Trailhead is Going Mobile Too
Trailhead, the web-based Salesforce education portal, will soon be accessible on iOS devices. This will make learning and upskilling easier to manage, particularly for professionals who are typically on the go.
Since keeping skill sets up to date is often a priority for businesses, this development can make learning objectives easier to attain.
AWS and Salesforce Integrations
A sign of a deepening relationship with Amazon, new product integrations between AWS and Salesforce were announced, showcasing how the tech giants were working together to facilitate secure data sharing and synchronization between the platforms. The aim is to provide customers with robust solutions that simplify internal processes, allowing for the enhancement of customer relationships through higher levels of efficiency.
High Velocity Sales Feature
An improvement to Salesforce’s Sales cloud offering, the High Velocity Sales feature allows for the delivery of customized work queues and sales cadences to individual sales reps, a move that is said to enhance productivity and make it easier to prioritize prospects.
Einstein Lead Scoring will help determine which prospects have the most viability, enabling sales professionals to focus their efforts according to potential. Plus, the AI helps even more through activity capturing, allowing certain portions of manual data entry to be avoided entirely.
A Theme of Empowerment
Salesforce leaders often use Dreamforce to generate excitement about what the platform has to offer. This year, the company went beyond simple excitement, instead, trying to empower business and users in a variety of ways.
The company explored the importance of diversity in organizations, particularly as unemployment remains low and skilled professionals are harder to find. They also highlighted the value of philanthropy, including its role in attracting younger generations as either customers or potential employees.
Touching on Ethics
Another topic that received a significant amount of attention, including from Salesforce leaders, was ethics. The tech industry has been plagued in recent years, often with accusations of discrimination and non-inclusive environments. Additionally, concerns about computers making decisions, largely based on the increasing use of AI, also put ethics on center stage.
Marc Benioff frequently stressed the need for corporate responsibility, suggesting that businesses and their leaders need to act as role models. This includes being vigilant when it comes to implementing technologies, ensuring that solutions are used for the greater good and not just to achieve higher profits.
With Dreamforce being such a massive event each year, it should come as no surprise that Dreamforce 2019 is already scheduled. Next year, the four-day conference will be held starting on November 19, ending on November 22.
While it is way too early for details regarding the next Salesforce extravaganza, beyond that it will again take place in San Francisco, it does allow Trailblazers to start planning for Dreamforce 2019. The sheer popularity of the event can make planning early critical, particularly if you need to travel into the city and secure accommodations.
Ultimately, Dreamforce 2018 can easily be deemed a success, and excitement is already building for 2019. Salesforce is an incredibly powerful solution – allowing companies to increase productivity, efficiency, and profitability – and only becomes more robust each year.
If you are interested in learning more about what happened at Dreamforce this year, how to plan for next year’s conference or are interested in exploring the power of Salesforce, including information on how it can assist your company, the professionals at Solving IT can help. Contact us to speak with one of our knowledgeable Salesforce specialists today and see how our Salesforce expertise can benefit you.