Dreamforce 2016: A Review of the Week in San Francisco

Dreamforce 2016: A Review of the Week in San Francisco

As another Dreamforce conference comes to a close, I wanted to reflect on some of the key learnings from this week. Salesforce knows how to host a conference, accommodating 170,000 attendees in over 2,700 breakout sessions. There were breakout sessions catering to multiple career paths. Although tempted from past years as a technical developer and data base administrator, I passed on the many sessions designed for the professionals who have made developing solutions using the Salesforce platform a career. It is amazing that there is an entire population of professionals that were not even born when I started my career that now make a good living handling the technical details necessary to build great new applications and keep them running.

Focus on the Customer

The theme of the conference this year was about connecting to the customer. As a former Disney Cast Member and author of four books on customer service, I was thrilled to see the focus on what I have always said is what differentiates one company from another: Customer Service! One of the phrases I heard in multiple sessions was becoming a “Customer Centric” organization. This is a major focus for many businesses – moving the customer service function from being a department to it being the primary objective for every employee.

In a study soon to be released by Salesforce, they mentioned the following statistics:

  • 23% of B2B marketers claim to have a customer-centric versus a channel or product-centric organizational structure. (That means 77% of all organizations have not embraced this important concept.)
  • 29% of Enterprise companies rate themselves as very effective or effective at creating a cohesive customer journey.
  • 50% of C-suite execs said their organization uses no consistent measure of their customers’ experience.
  • Only 17% of respondents said their company had fully integrated their customer data across all areas of the organization.

In an effort to support this growing desire to provide a single platform to store and share customer data throughout every department in a company, Salesforce has continued to focus on integration and allowing the core Salesforce applications to seamlessly connect with data stored in other key systems such as an ERP or Financial system.

Harnessing the Power of Artificial Intelligence

Salesforce always makes a major project announcement during their big show.

This year it was the rollout of “Einstein,” which is an AI (Artificial Intelligence) tool that will become part of many of the applications. This includes rating sales prospects to suggesting communication to customers, all based on a real time review of relevant data. (Time will tell if this is as big of a deal as they say it will be, but I expect this will be an area to watch as everyone is trying to better leverage their technology to make better business decisions.)

A Great Event and More to Take In

It was a great week with perfect weather in a one of a kind city. We even had a bonus by being able to see the Blue Angels put on an incredible show right over San Francisco bay with the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz in the background.

It will take a few weeks to digest the information presented at the many sessions I attended, or the countless conversations held with partner vendors in the enormous expo. One thing this week confirmed was that I made a great decision 13 years ago when I chose Salesforce as a three-year-old company competing with the “big boys” in the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool market.

At Olympia Consulting, we are all about improving processes and customer service. In many cases, Salesforce ends up being a great tool to help our clients reach their goals. I look forward to many more years of seeing the measurable results that come from a successful client engagement that includes improved communication at all levels and helping move towards a customer centered culture.

Already looking forward to Dreamforce 2017!