In case you didn’t know, the size and scope of Dreamforce is massive and can be summed up in one anecdote – a colleague told me that his fitbit recorded a 5 to 6 mile walk every day, and that did not include his walk to and from his hotel. It is truly dizzying and most blogs will point that out, so I will skip the rest of the descriptives and boil this down to some of my takeaways after a weekend of reflection on the conference.
Big Picture for the IoT, Wearables and Big Data
It finally feels like Salesforce is starting to pull all of their products and applications together with a focus on IoT. Their catchphrase – “There are billions of connected devices, and behind every device is a customer” is a powerful message and one that all businesses should heed.
And, as illustrated in a number of sessions headed up by Salesforce resident futurist Peter Schwartz and the omnipresent Peter Coffee, the pace of innovation is moving at incredible speeds. Breakthroughs in functionality that were deemed 3 or 4 years away are happening now in 3 to 6 months.
The takeaway is that through all of their products – Lightning, Heroku, Thunder, Wave Analytics – Salesforce has positioned itself to be the platform that a business can use to engage with, trigger real time actions for, and analyze those billions of interactions.
This Salesforce IQ product release will likely have the biggest impact for everyday users. What it essentially does is allow you to use Salesforce directly in your email client (Exchange and Gmail for now), functionality that is very similar to what Cirrus Insight and Linkpoint 360 provide. Logging emails to salesforce, reminders to follow up, email scheduling and analysis are all in there.
Since there are a lot of Salesforce users out there who prefer to work primarily in email, Salesforce has made the decision to no longer persuade users that they should be working primarily in Salesforce. They have listened to their customers and gone with the flow on this, releasing both a desktop (I have a chrome extension for gmail) and mobile app. Having tested them both for the last few days, the functionality is there and will likely be improved upon.
The most useful feature for a sales guy – notification that a prospect has opened your email/ proposal/ meeting request.
2nd most useful feature – A calendar widget that lets salespeople offer potential meeting times.
Drawback – it is only available for Small to Medium sized businesses – larger enterprise companies might have some security/ scalability concerns about widespread use at this point.
The Salesforce Microsoft Relationship
It seems as if these two have finally buried the hatchet and have come to terms with occupying the universe together. Microsoft is “piloting” Thunder, the Salesforce IoT platform product. The new Salesforce IQ Email product (see above) features a much enhanced Salesforce – Exchange integration.
In general, Microsoft had a much bigger sponsorship presence than in the past. This increasingly positive relationship will help both sides and more importantly help their customers use their products more efficiently.
Salesforce has realized that in the near future there will not be enough qualified Administrators and Developers out there to take care of all of these emerging Salesforce orgs. Recently, Salesforce launched Trailhead – a modular Learning Management System that aims to fill this gap. Trailhead was heavily promoted in the Developer Zone and basically took over a whole floor of Moscone West, and interest was heavy.
It is also gamified so that participants in the online modules earn badges for passing each level, thus appealing to a younger crowd. The move to create (and perhaps even harvest themselves) a young talent pool of admins as more companies move to their platform(s) is a smart, forward thinking move on the part of Salesforce.
Arrival of Health Cloud
The Healthcare/ Life Sciences vertical held its sessions at the Century Theater. This was probably the most comfortable I’ve been at any conference, where free popcorn was dispensed, stadium style seating was in use, and the AC was a comfortable 68 degrees.
Salesforce has recognized the space that Healthcare will encompass in everyday life and understands that its products lend themselves nicely to fill that space. From Patient Relationship Management to Medical Device asset tracking to Clinical Drug Trials and analytics, Salesforce is moving confidently and quietly into a very lucrative field.