Dreamforce 2012 was held last week at San Francisco with large number of attendees from all over the world. If the conference numbers are any indication of market performance, Salesforce is giving a tough fight to Oracle but they rarely indicate anything significant other than showing enthusiasm among their users. With master showman Marc Benioff running the show, I think Salesforce achieved what they set out to achieve with Dreamforce (ie., keeping their customers pumped up as they try to integrate their existing properties and acquisitions into a seamless unified platform). I thought I will use this post to share some of my takeaways from this year’s conference.
- Ever since Marc Benioff started talking about Facebookization of enterprises, he has been receiving some flak from some of the pundits out there. But this year he showcased some really strong customer stories including GE, Virgin America, etc.. I know I might still get some flak from old fashioned pundits for this statement but I think I can confidently say that the era of Social Enterprise has begun in full force. Either the enterprise customers take advantage of the solutions coming up in the market or they lose out in the long run. If some of the stories from the Dreamforce are not convincing enough, I am not sure what else will convince these pundits.
- Part of the reason for the pushback against social in the enterprise space can be attributed to the fact that people immediately equate social to Facebook and Twitter. Salesforce’s push using Facebook may have contribute to this confusion. It is time we stop talking about social media and talk about how external facing social collaboration along with social processes inside the organization can help enterprises achieve a level of efficiency not seen anytime in the past. Social is not something new. It is part of the human nature from the day emotions became part of human beings. What is different now is the availability of cloud based tools and mobile interfaces which makes collaboration more efficient. Some of these modern day tools help “socialize” your existing workflows, thereby adding more efficiency without any disruption. Salesforce understands this very well as they move forward with their Social Business push.
- For a long time, I have been pushing Salesforce to talk about an unified platform story. In this Dreamforce, they have taken the first step towards that story and I have already started looking forward to next Dreamforce where the storyline might meet what I expect from them for quite some time. In short, Salesforce is evolving into a Social Business Platform meeting varied needs of organizations. There are some unfinished tasks left for them but I am pretty sure they will get there soon.
- What Salesforce is not saying but which is abundantly clear to folks watching the space closely is that it is all about data. It is all data, data, data, data, data, ……. They want the enterprise data and they are doing everything to get them on to their cloud. The announcements last week makes it pretty clear. If I were Marc Benioff, I will be putting emphasis on data over social but he is smart not to do it because enterprises are still touchy about their data going into third party cloud services and Benioff would rather spend his time spinning interesting stories around social than convincing people that they should trust Salesforce even more than their own IT department. However, the bottom-line is it is all about your data. The more data that goes into their platform, the more value the customers (and, of course, Salesforce) will get from their services.
- At Dreamforce, they announced Identity as a Service by emphasizing on security. This is an important step towards a full fledged Suite approach by Salesforce in the future than the best of breed mantra of the past.
- I am going to write about it in detail when I do a post on Salesforce Platform at Rishidot Research Blog in the coming days but I want to highlight it here too. Salesforce’s announcement about Touch Platform is a pretty significant move because it is my strong belief that any reasonable Platform as a Service offering should have mobile application development as one of the core attributes.
These are some of my thoughts from Dreamforce. Even though Salesforce has significant momentum by pushing the Social Business mantra, they have a long way to go before they dislodge some of the bigger enterprise players in the market. The coming few years will show if their bet on Social Business is paying off in a big way.
Disclosure: Salesforce paid my travel and stay for the event