Reflections on Dreamforce
Oct 17, 2018
I recently attended Dreamforce, which is Salesforce’s biggest event of the year. I thought I would put down a few reflections on it a week or two on.
Well the whole event is simply staggering in its scale, ambition, organisation and participation. You have over 2,000 different sessions and 171,000 registered attendees and it takes a little time to come to terms with all this. Certainly, the city of San Francisco must love and brace itself equally for this event. The planes, cabs, restaurants, hotels and coffee shops are heaving and the event puts a reported £150m into the Bay Area economy.
Secondly, I have to say that it seems to me that Salesforce is a slightly different sort of company from all the others I have seen. OK - it is a big, rapidly growing tech company. Why is it different? Well, of course, all companies proudly state their purpose and their social contribution beyond performance. But Salesforce seem to go further and genuinely put their customers, employees and social contribution at the centre of all they do. The impressive keynote from Marc Benioff and his colleagues demonstrated this to the 20,000 in the audience and the who knows how many watching it being streamed! Now, I am not naive - this is all much easier to do in a new tech Unicorn that has rapidly passed $13bn of revenue than it is an established organisation dealing with the disruption from the fourth Industrial revolution. It would be interesting to see how Marc’s inclusive capitalism would withstand a few quarters of poorer results. I hope it would as this seems to me to be the sort of company we need, to address social inequalities and take all its stakeholders with it.
Lastly, I reflect on the 171,000 attendees - from CEOs of major Salesforce customers to the most inexperienced Salesforce converts, using its innovative badge-acquiring learning system Trailhead to acquire skills and hence find employment. Why are they there? Well, they rock up to San Fran because this platform is just phenomenal in its capabilities and potential. It will become (or maybe is) the king of integrated Cloud solutions, in my humble view. Whether it is B2C, B2B, system integration (the much-heralded Mulesoft), marketing, sales, service, collaboration, communities, insight, AI, or Retail to Oil and Gas through to Banking - there is a Salesforce solution for it all.
PwC is already one of the biggest users of Salesforce in our own business and we work closely with them to help our clients with their implementations. We are excited about what it can do for us and our clients. One of my partners reflected that what he saw about the future of the platform “made me weep - oh goodness - how it will revolutionise how everyone engages with their customers and clients - I want what they can offer installed in PwC now”.
Dreamforce it was and Dreamforce it is.