A compelling vision from the Salesforce World Tour 2017

A compelling vision: Salesforce World Tour 2017

This week, Salesforce delivered on their world tour commitments to the central US markets, bringing a piece of the annual Dreamforce experience to the lakeside convention center in Chicago.   Between the Chicago-style hot dogs and Sierra-themed conference, the world tour experience was more than memorable – it provided a degree of clarity to the benefits of the past few years acquisitions and investments by Salesforce.

Several important points were made today, six months on from the last Dreamforce event in San Francisco 2016.  The top 10 insights from today:

1)    The entire keynote was delivered by women executives – all at the top of Salesforce.  I share this point first because it was refreshing to experience, and illustrates why Salesforce stands apart from many in the Silicon Valley universe as a progressive and inclusive organization.  I encourage more in the tech industry to follow suit.

2)    Einstein, the Salesforce based Artificial intelligence capability, was in full effect across Sales, Marketing, and Service platforms.   What was hinted at a year ago, is now fully realized in guiding intelligently the various customer journeys.  

You can see the significant investment in the A.I. experience – and the intellectual value that has been embedded in the Sales support guidance, the Services automation capabilities, and the Marketing cloud actions which are informed by the A.I. that is Einstein.   The lead scoring and predictive analytics on the Sales side was particularly compelling.

3)    The value of the Lightning user experience is now a strong differentiator, and brings together the various cloud experiences in a consistent UI.   Gone are the days of ‘tab to table’ screens – the UI is fluid (allowing you to pull and drop various components on the screens), and dynamically generated based on rules and the Einstein A.I. guidance.    Easier to use = more efficient = happier sales, marketing, and service team members.    Salesforce is no longer mind boggling small fonts and depth of menus – it makes sense.

4)    Simple things are some of the most powerful in Salesforce today.  The ability to utilize the Salesforce Mobile client as a central sales engagement app on a phone or tablet is a reality today.   Where Hubspot and other email tracking platforms had outpaced Salesforce in the past years – today you can achieve equal and greater capability via the Salesforce Inbox and Mobile client.   

Being able to share calendars, email ‘sense’ engagement, and have Einstein analytics advise probability of best sales leads for the day – super charges your sales teams effectiveness.

5)    Marketing Cloud – reimagined from its prior days as ExactTarget – Marketing Cloud has taken on a new level of maturity with the Einstein A.I. enhancements and rules based actions.  You can truly design for various customer journeys, based on defined marketing / advertising and customer journeys – and engage across multiple (omni) channels to optimize audience awareness.   Yes, other players do this too – what is meaningful about Marketing Cloud + Einstein is the sense of engagement and precision / accuracy you achieve when you combine the two together.  When you tack on Pardot and the DMP (data management platform) possibilities with Einstein – it is very hard to beat.

6)    Service Cloud is now a fully integrated component and contributes to the ‘customer 360’ mindset most companies are seeking today.  Now you can see the before (marketing), during (sales), and after (service) relationships in a common dashboard and view – and again has the Einstein embedded analytics and advise.  One particularly interesting integration is the chat-bot capabilities (Live Message) which you can leverage.  Check this out if you have not considered.

7)    Community Cloud is shaping up to be a competitive alternative to Facebook Workplace as a collaboration environment you can share across suppliers, employees, and customers to create a common social space.    

Rooted strongly in the Salesforce data model (and benefits when you leverage the entire stack with Salesforce solutions) – the Community Cloud provides a common space for inter-connected entities in the schema (customers, suppliers, and employees) to share knowledge and collaborate.  If you are building (or rebuilding) a business around the Salesforce platform stack – you would be well off to consider how Community Cloud fits into your engagement thinking.   

8)    Demandware is now Commerce Cloud – and that is a very good thing.   From last years’ acquisition of the Demandware platform – the benefits to the Salesforce eco-system are clear:  Commerce Cloud brings to the table an enterprise ecommerce platform and integrating with the robust customer data model that is Salesforce itself.  The automations and A.I. capabilities ahead are fascinating to consider as Salesforce will bring eCommerce to the customer journey map through Commerce Cloud. 

9)    Lest you think this is an advertisement for Salesforce (we are a Hubspot shop in fact at Practically Digital) - there are always a few head scratchers

An example - Quip – bought last year also – is a simpler version of either Office 365 or Google G Suite – combined with Basecamp or Slack, as best was illustrated today. 

The product message is still a bit murky how a company will use it to replace or enhance your existing collaboration experience – other than to say “well it works with Salesforce really well”.   Like Sharepoint vs. Yammer in the Microsoft universe – we are not sure (yet) how Quip will become a valued point solution or part of a stack investment (unless you do not use Slack, Basecamp, G Suite or Office365 today – in which case you may be a customer contender).   
 

10) Are ‘2 A.I.’s are better than one’, as the partnership between Salesforce and IBM Watson from earlier this year has been messaged to the market.  This is still taking shape in the demonstrations and discussions, and not clear enough (yet) how this adds value to most companies. 

Having experience on both sides of this partnership – my sense is ‘IBM = process A.I.” and ‘Einstein = entity A.I.’ – and when you combine the two in a thoughtful way – you may arrive at two very fast digital advisors on how which business process should touch which customer, supplier, or marketing lead – in what order – without requiring (much) human intervention.  Stay tuned on this one – there is a story here worth telling but it seems a little out of focus still.

 

In summary – the world tour event illustrated today a major improvement on the acquisitions, artificial intelligence, and customer vision for Salesforce 2017.   If you have not looked at your relationship management solution(s) lately – now is a good time to consider how ready you are for digital business.   Especially if you are lagging behind on artificial intelligence and analytics to support business transformation.  

To learn more about digital engagement, customer experiences, and how relationship management is part of a digital business, get in touch with us below!