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Dreamforce 2015 – Top Takeaways

Dreamforce keeps getting bigger and better.  DF ’15 was no exception.  Here are the things we at Venn Technology found to be the biggest takeaways.

WHOA!

This marked my fifth time to attend Dreamforce.  There were 40,000 people at my first DF.  Prior to that the biggest business event I had been to had somewhere around 3,000-4,000 in attendance – DF blew my mind – it was 10x bigger than the next biggest show I had experienced!

I remember thinking at that time that there was no way that the show could get that much bigger. Well…I was wrong.  This year there were over 170,000 in attendance.  Getting a hotel room has always been a problem, further emphasized this year by the fact that they brought in a cruise ship…nay…the Dreamboat…to act as a floating hotel.  It wont surprise me one bit if next year there are three or four Dreamboats!

Alright, alright, I get that its big but get to the good stuff?  What did you take away?

Apart from some great swag I came back from San Francisco having met some incredible people, attended awesome keynotes and sessions and came to some realizations.

Salesforce is Still Focused on SMB’s

Over the last few years I have begun to think that Salesforce is focusing less on the lower end of the market and putting most of its efforts in the Enterprise space.  This Dreamforce changed my perspective in a big way.

Everyone knows that Salesforce is making acquisitions left and right.  Over the last few years they have acquired two companies with products focused on SMB’s, Assistly, now known as Desk.com and RelateIQ now known as SalesforceIQ.

Desk got some big publicity in the SMB Keynote, showing off how Luxe uses the app to create amazing customer experiences.

SalesforceIQ got an even bigger shout out in the main keynote with Marc Bennioff. Not only is the underlying technology from RelateIQ being rolled into the platform but the standalone app appears to be thriving with a major booth presence on the tradeshow floor.

IoT

By now we are all familiar with Lightning which was launched at Dreamforce last year.  There was plenty of Lightning content and publicity at DF 15 but since we have covered that topic before this post will be focused on other things.

So, what comes after Lightning, well Thunder naturally. What on earth is Thunder in Salesforce speak?  Salesforce has been preaching IoT (Internet of Things) and IoC (Internet of Customers) for years now.  Up to this point IoT solutions have been largely provided by AppExchange partners such as Etherios (The Social Machine) and 2lemetry’s Integrate product. Now Salesforce appears to be launching their own solution with lots of Wave powered analytics behind it.

If you aren’t familiar with IoT give this a quick read.  In short, this type of technology allows devices (anything from a FitBit to an engine on a Boeing jet) to send diagnostic information to the cloud for monitoring.  In many cases this data can be used to identify problems before they occur, dispatch the right technician to the device prepared with the right tools and parts to address the issue on the first visit.

Communities

Salesforce launched its successor to the legacy Portals products in 2013 in the form of Communities.  While I have no data to go on to support this I have to believe that Community Cloud represents one of the fastest growing product segments for Salesforce. It seems like half of the people I talked with at the conference either have a Community or are in the process of of implementing one.

I had the opportunity to attend the Community Cloud Keynote. Schneider Electric shared their story of how they leverage Partner Communities to get their field service partners up to speed on new products and provide the tools to help troubleshoot issues in the field.

Most exciting though was hearing about how Avid has turned its Community into a profit center by leveraging the tool as an eCommerce platform.  The new Lightning powered Buy Button from Cloud Craze is going to be a game changer.

Pardot

Shortly after Oracle purchased Eloqua in 2012 Salesforce bought another marketing automation company called ExactTarget.  Prior to its acquisition by SFDC ExactTarget had purchased a B2B focused solution called Pardot.

One of the most exciting things I saw at DF15 this year was the new Pardot Engagement Studio which brings a Visio like canvas to the screen allowing you to build out your drip programs complete with integrations to third party apps like SurveyMoney and EventBrite.  Need to make a change in the branching logic on the fly, no problem just add a new node and you’re off and running. This has the look and feel of the Journey Builder found in Marketing Cloud. Perhaps the lines between the two will become even more blurred over time.

Trailhead

Historically second floor of Moscone West has been dedicated to all sorts of learning experiences.  This year the ambiance was reminiscent of a youth camp set in the woods with beautiful lakes and rivers to canoe and kayak through.  There was actually a canoe you could have your picture made in.  Scout like badges could be earned for all sorts of achievements with even bigger prizes to be had for going further.

Salesforce launched Trailhead late last year and has not taken their foot off the gas in terms of how aggressively they are pushing out new content and ways to leran more about the platform.  Dreamforce 15 further shows the commitment Salesforce has made to its community of users, administrators and developers.

If you haven’t already it is time to sign up and get started with Trailhead – particularly if you are evaluating a transition to Lightning UI when the Winter ’16 release hits.

Microsoft

In August of 2013 it was announced that Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer would retire from his post early the following year and was to be succeded by Satya Nadella.  Since then Salesforce and Microsoft have gone from being at best “frenemies” to true partners.  I must admit that when Salesforce and Microsoft announced the first legs of their partnership a couple of years ago I was quite skeptical. It seemed as if it was just a good PR move that would generate some hype.  

Since then what appeared to be just a press release has materialized in some incredible new developments between the two organizations. Consider the following items that have been announced and/or launched in fairly recent history:

  • Files Connect – search Sharepoint files from within Salesforce
  • Salesforce for Outlook – Office 365
  • Salesforce1 + Microsoft Office Integration
  • Salesforce Connector for Excel Power Query
  • Skype for Business integration for Salesforce
  • OneNote Integration for Salesforce
  • Salesforce Integration with Office Graph and Office Delve
  • Salesforce1 Mobile app for Windows 10
  • Salesforce connector fo Microsoft PowerBI

This list is probably leaving out at least a few others and who knows what is in the pipeline. The last bullet on the list – PowerBI is a particularly interesting one given that Salesforce is making a massive push in the BI space with Wave.  There seems to be a true spirit of competitive cooperation or coopetition between these two tech giants.

That said, my most surreal experience at DF15 was sitting in a movie theater (yes – the conference is so big now that they have booked up an entire movie theater for sessions) was sitting in a session that was entirely led by Microsoft product managers without a single Salesforce employee in the room.  This was something I never expected to happen.

We are entering a world where there is no longer a question of Microsoft or Salesforce but a conversation around Microsoft AND Salesforce.

How about you?

What were your big takeaways from Dreamforce this year?  Sound off in the comments below.

Scott Hollrah - Managing Partner - Venn Technology

Scott Hollrah

Managing Partner

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About the author

CRM consultant with a passion for customer success. Past experience includes a wide variety of industries including energy, retail, nonprofit, finance, construction, and more. Specialties: Salesforce Certified Administrator Salesforce Certified Advanced Administrator Salesforce Certified Developer Salesforce Certified Sales Cloud Consultant Salesforce Certified Service Cloud Consultant

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