I have been to every Dreamforce, and I plan on going to every future one, so long as I remain of sound body and mind.
It’s not just that it is an amazing conference and that I work at salesforce.com; it’s a conference that represents a transformation and excitement in an industry that needs it. There an absolute uniqueness about a conference that embraces the connectedness of people and technology. This is opposed to the formal gravitas-laden conferences found everywhere else.
But this one is different. It has salesforce1.
The announcement of salesforce1 cannot be summarized accurately without understanding the principles behind why our company has created this technology. It represents something greater than can be displayed with a new user experience or 10x more APIs in the platform, although those are fundamental attributes.
salesforce1 is about engagement.
Computer technology has evolved from record keeping to transaction systems to communication and ultimately to engagement. Each one builds on the other – nothing is replaced. For example, one cannot have transactions without having a way of storing records. One cannot engage without first having some communication system in place.
It’s understandable that different departments or different divisions have built up some kind of walled garden for their applications. It’s understandable, but in today’s technology economy it’s wrong.
Salesforce1’s most under-reported capability is the idea that engagement doesn’t just happen with people; it also must happen with systems. The birth of the new machine is that for people to communicate and engage the systems need to be there first.
Let’s look at how consumers use applications. First, the primary driver behind this is mobile. And while mobile operating systems support some lower levels of communication, they ultimately fail at providing inherently social communications. This leaves the applications to handle cross-application engagement. An example is how a person uses an application to publish data (such as a photograph) on multiple sites. The publishing is the first part of the puzzle.
The second part is how that data creates further engagement. Facebook transformed the consumer industry by creating a platform that allows people to share and engage with that piece of data.
In the enterprise, no such technology exists on any scale.
It is not pragmatic to expect that a person can take system of record data and engage with it on multiple levels. The entire industry was focused on CRUD. What happens after that was never a concern. At salesforce.com, we provided the tools to follow, like, and broadcast data that is relevant to our customers. Our customers in turn built applications on the Salesforce platform to better engage and communicate not only with people, their data, but the data of machines.
Salesforce1 takes that concept and applies it to external applications. At the highest levels, Salesforce.com handles the packaging, the scale and elasticity, and the identity services. Every application built on the Salesforce Platform inherits these capabilities. However, with salesforce1 every application can also be part of the network multiplier effect as well.
Applications inherently are moving toward a publishing model with customers more in charge. What this means is that your data is communicating with data in other applications at your command. This is not trivial. This data has been locked up in silos since the beginning of the computer industry. The only way around it was to develop esoteric integration layers to solve functional problems or copy and paste, neither of which is adequate with the Internet of Things and particularly the Internet of Customers.
This capability is so obvious that it is overlooked. When a person can use an application and publish data to another application, it is akin to technological magic in the sense of the Arthur C. Clarke in “Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination”: any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Further, the previous technologies had no path for clear engagement with the data once it has been published. This is known as context. So even if you could get an application to talk to another, you couldn’t do anything with it.
Salesforce’s developer team sums this is up in this excerpt from a soon-to-be-published book: Check http://wiki.developerforce.com/page/Salesforce_APIs
The ability to share, follow, collaborate, and take business actions directly on data within Salesforce1 is at the core of the platform. Users can follow records and data with a single tap. They can be notified of changes in real-time, and collaborate directly within the record feed. This feed-based approach to working lets users focus on what’s most important to them.
By treating data as social and as an important participant in business, Salesforce1 allows data to share updates, trigger workflows, and be part of the collaboration process with workers, teams, partners, and customers.
It’s been a long road to move from transaction-only systems of record to customer-focused systems of engagement. But this is a defining moment in the enterprise.
Welcome to salesforce1.