davidc
David Carr
September 17, 2015
Business Best Practices
Cloud Computing
Events
I.T.
Leadership

Connections, Communications: Big Element of Dreamforce

dreamforce 2015Beyond serving as the users conference for Salesforce.com, Dreamforce has grown into an annual festival celebration of the cloud computing era. With more than 170,000 people registered to attend, it’s now the world’s largest technology event.

As part of a keynote address where he quoted projection that the worldwide marketing for cloud computing will soon reach $270 billion, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff crowed, “we’ve come a long way from where it was when we started and it was zero.”

Since it was founded in 1999 as a service delivering applications for salespeople over the internet, the company has expanded both its own footprint and its partner ecosystem. RingCentral is a Gold Sponsor of Dreamforce and this week announced an upgrade to its Salesforce integration including the ability to send SMS text directly from within a customer record.

One of the things that’s interesting from our point of view is how much of the new wave of computing revolves around connecting people in new ways and allowing them to communicate.

Benioff makes a habit of recognizing customers and other industry innovators during these events, and he kicked off Wednesday’s events with a “fireside chat” style conversation with Travis Kalanick, the CEO of Uber. A big part of the Uber business model is the ability for people to connect with transportation services through their mobile phone. Uber started with a limousine service and expanded compete with taxis on cost and convenience. Now it has started delivering meals as well as people, something Kalanick said was consistent with the basic value proposition of “being able to push a button and get what you want when you want it.”

As for Dreamforce, Kalanick called it “an annual event where our people don’t sleep very much because you make the city very busy.”

Salesforce has been busy over the past year with a major revamp of the user interface of its core products, making it faster, more adaptable between desktop and mobile devices, and easier to customize. Salesforce is talking up the new Lightning edition of its user interface and Lightning components that can be added to a page or moved around in a visual builder, even by non-technical users.

To show how it’s different, Parker Harris, the Salesforce.com co-founder who leads the product development team turned up on stage in “lightning man” costume, carrying a plastic lightning bolt like a javelin. “It’s the best thing we’ve done since we founded the company,” he proclaimed. In addition to building new applications and extensions to Salesforce applications, the Lightning framework makes it possible for users to customize screens within the core product – for example, to change the number of columns on a dashboard or resize the widgets.

Mike Micucci s v p products Community Cloud leads demo community cloud keynote

Mike Micucci, SVP Products Community Cloud, leads demo community cloud keynote.

Within the Community Cloud, it will now be possible to add a “buy button” component from any one of several e-commerce partners, making it appear within the context of a stream of conversation in a customer community.

Employing the same sort of intelligence that would be used to target an advertisement, such an e-commerce offer can be made to appear in the context where it would be most relevant. For example, Avid, which makes audio and video editing tools used by both professionals and ambitious amateurs, is using this approach in a community where musicians can sell or swap music tracks, sound effects, and other audio. If the conversation hits on keywords associated with a given music genre or artist, the promoted items will match.

While it has been several years since Salesforce.com made a big deal out of “the social enterprise” as the future of business, its Chatter software for social messaging is a pervasive component in these experiences.

For example, Dreamforce was also the coming out party for the Health Cloud, Salesforce.com’s entry into the world of healthcare IT. While it won’t build the kind of electronic medical records software used to track patient data, Salesforce believes it can integrate with EMRs and bring its own expertise with software for managing relationships to the challenge of getting patients more engaged with managing their own care. Secure social messaging would then become a fundamental mode of communication for the whole care team, including doctors, nurses, and the patient’s family. Behind the scenes, those messages then tie in to the Salesforce Service Cloud, treating patient engagement as another form of customer service, as well as the analytic capabilities of the Salesforce platform.

Reference customers include Merck, which wants to do a better job of connecting with doctors and patients about health conditions its medicines treat, and Centura Health, a health system operating in Colorado and Western Kansas seeking to do a better job of working with patients on preventative care and follow up care. Neither is yet using the Health Cloud but both have been applying Salesforce technology to the sorts of problems it is intended to solve.

If you will be at Dreamforce Thursday, be sure to stop by these two sessions featuring RingCentral speakers.

Enable Sales & Delight Customers In The Brave New World of Cloud Communications: 11:30 – 12:10, Metreon AMC Theaters, Metreon Theater 6. Dave Nuss, senior vice president of information technology at Cresa will share how this commercial real estate services company with over 50 offices in North America benefits by using cloud communications solutions that are integrated into salesforce. He will be joined by Jose Pastor of RingCentral.

How Data Science Drives the Future of Sales at Splunk, Nutanix & RingCentral: 12:30 – 1:10, Metreon AMC Theaters, Metreon Theater 8. Using data science to get ahead is more than a trend – it’s driving high-performance sales organizations into the future. New insights and actionable recommendations are being surfaced to help sales consistently exceed goals. Learn how leaders like Splunk, Nutanix, and RingCentral use data to power forecasting, course correct with recommended paths to close each quarter, and engineer future growth. William Dolby, Sr. Director Sales Operations, will represent RingCentral.