What I Learned at Dreamforce 17
Dreamforce is huge. Attempting to summarize an event with 170,000 people, more than 2,700 sessions, 50 parties, and a myriad of partner locations, special events, and extra-curricular activities is a challenge.
From my perspective, Salesforce draws three main audiences to Dreamforce: investors, customers and partners.
As an investor, wherever you went in San Francisco, you were reminded that Salesforce is the #1 CRM thorough eye-catching “market share” charts: on billboards, sides of buses, in the morning newspaper, and, of course, at Dreamforce itself.
It’s important to remember that customers are investors, as well. We are investing our company’s money, time and commitment to building out business processes in the Salesforce ecosystem. And we want to make sure our choice is a correct one and will be viable for many years to come. The message that we’ve “made the right choice” was reinforced across the board, as Dreamforce is not just about “what is”, but about “what is to be.”
The emphasis in 2017 continued on Artificial Intelligence, personified by the introduction of Omega, an AI-based digital assistant designed to power customer service chatbots. Omega proposes to deliver both natural and engaging user experiences for enterprise companies—kind of an Alexa for your business.
This year, Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff announced another big strategic alliance (akin to the prior year’s IBM announcement): the joining together of Salesforce’s platform with G Suite, Google’s productivity and team collaboration services. This partnership could potentially shake up the cloud computing race, as it specifically seems to target Microsoft and the Office 365 suite, combined with Dynamics.
Time will tell, but since Salesforce is already a big internal user of G Suite, and Google is pledging to “continue to use Salesforce as its preferred CRM provider,” the cross-corporate partnership appears strong already.
As a company, TimeTrade is both a customer and a partner of Salesforce. We were selling on the expo floor, as well as conducting meetings with business partners, customers and Salesforce team members. And, of course, we had our technical and product teams attending sessions and learning about the “latest and greatest”, and how to better implement what we already have for service and support internally at TimeTrade.
To that end, the sessions are many and there were areas where you could “nerd out” by developing code and talking with Salesforce solution engineers, architects, and developers. Learning about technologies such as Salesforce Shield, Lightning Components, and how the Sales Cloud, Financial Services Cloud, Community Cloud, and other specific solutions can be used to solve problems became a hands-on experience at Dreamforce.
Dreamforce sometimes feels like a combination user group meeting, three-ring circus and religious revival. Part of the challenge—and the fun—of Dreamforce is trying to see it all (which is impossible).
There was literally something for everyone, and Dreamforce provides a “segmented” experience based on company type (e.g., small or medium-sized business), industry focus (financial, healthcare, retail), or functional focus (customer service). It was entirely possible to spend one or two days at the Intercontinental Hotel attending financial services presentations and events, or days at hands-on sessions building functioning AI robots in the Moscone center. It was all there!
Most importantly for TimeTrade, our experience at Dreamforce as a partner enabled us to meet and talk with users of Salesforce and our customers. The Expo floor is a critical part of the Dreamforce experience, and it’s fantastic to have hundreds of people to show our solution to, get feedback, and hear about the business challenges businesses have with scheduling meetings.
We had a lot of fun this year with the “Scheduling Dysfunction” theme, and by using our own solution were able to pre-schedule scores of meetings, in addition to the many hundreds of conversations and meetings during the 4 days of expo.
We were absolutely thrilled to attend Dreamforce, and the entire team has come back to the office with renewed energy and commitment to make our solution the best it can be for our Salesforce users!