In the chaos of crowds, keynotes and queues, one thing certainly stood out – the massive potential Salesforce poses for any company.
As brand new partners of Salesforce and first-time attendees and sponsors of Dreamforce, we had high expectations coming into the conference. And it did not disappoint.
We sent COO Quentin Montalto and Partnerships Manager Meredith Hightower to scope out the Salesforce ecosystem, products and Commerce Cloud community. Here’s what they thought about Dreamforce, and what we think you can expect from Salesforce going forward.
Why I attended Dreamforce
2019 has been an incredibly heavy conference season for me personally, and even more for ShipperHQ. One of the things that we really focused on this year, and will focus on even more in 2020, is getting involved in more of the conferences we haven’t historically gone to.
It’s not that I don’t love the Magento Events, IRCEs and the ShopTalks of the world; sometimes you just need to see a different perspective. Commerce is ever-changing, and we owe it to our customers to not have a siloed view.
Launching our partnership with Salesforce B2C Commerce allowed us to spread our wings into a whole new conference scene. Why not start big as a sponsor of Dreamforce? A hotbed of tech with 170,000+ attendees that hijacks a chunk of San Francisco and spreads across all of the Moscone Center and hotels in the surrounding areas for a whole week.
Before I get into my opinion, it’s important to outline how we work with Salesforce and what I was looking to get out of this event. We’re an app for the eCommerce aspect that is one of the twelve pieces of the Customer 360 product that Salesforce offers. Meaning we’re after the B2B and B2C platforms on Salesforce.
For those at home, Salesforce acquired Demandware back in 2016, which has become the B2C platform. Salesforce also picked up CloudCraze in 2018, turning that into the B2B piece. Our partnership for now is into the B2C.
My initial goal for Dreamforce was to learn about Salesforce overall, the eCommerce Trailblazer community, and what their merchants want and are missing. So here’s what my experience was like.
What Marc Benioff and team have built is amazing. Between the 1-1-1 initiative, gender equality stance and transparency, I was ready to drink whatever kool-aid they were passing out.
My take on Salesforce, currently run by Benioff and Co-CEO Keith Block, is they are a company that is doing the right things the right way. They are building out what they can, and doing it really well. What key pieces they can’t build, they are acquiring.
I’m really looking forward to starting Trailhead to understand the early days and how they got to where they are today.
eCommerce Community & Learnings
As I write this, it makes me realize how truly unique the Magento ecosystem is. No matter which eCommerce platform event I go to, there is nothing quite like getting a bunch of Magento people in a room together.
Because Dreamforce has ~170,000 people, it’s pretty easy to get lost in the crowd, and I feel like eCommerce doesn’t have it’s own identity within the space.
Sure, there’s a separate section of the conference hall for commerce, but I’m hoping to see that develop in the next couple of years as B2C picks up customers and B2B gets integrated in. The commerce talks I went to were great, but they were few and far between and scheduled against other key talks that are important for partners.
Because I’m assuming this article will mostly be read by eCommerce people, my honest opinion to y’all is if you have never interacted with Salesforce or a Salesforce product, go to Dreamforce at least once. They are such a forward thinking company, and attending will help you understand the scope and culture of Salesforce.
Go be overwhelmed, to meet people, to listen to the commerce keynote. Listen to Mike Micucci and team talk about how they see Commerce now and what the future looks like to them. Pro tip: line up super early if you want to see any of the keynotes. If you think you’re early enough, go 30 minutes earlier than that.
Hot Take Time
Let’s talk Commerce Cloud. Salesforce in my opinion has the true upper hand over some of the other eCommerce platforms. They are a data-first company that has acquired eCommerce, instead of the other way around. I hope that Magento is absorbed into the Adobe Suite and is integrated with the depth and respect that Customer 360 has in the SFCC.
With key acquisitions, like Tableau (to take reporting to the next level) or Mulesoft (if you don’t know mulesoft stop reading this and go to their site), Salesforce has the ability to create a Single Source of Truth to orchestrate it all together. By all, I mean the Customer 360.
The “Clicks not Code” approach they have adopted on key pieces like Page Builder and other integrations will give them the upper hand. The days of needing to raise a jira and put it in a sprint to change the frontend of a website are numbered as that Page Builder comes up to speed.
My platform to watch in 2020 officially goes to Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Oh, and they have Einstein, look it up.
I’ve often felt Dreamforce is the rave of tech conferences. But honestly, it’s more like an adult wildlife camp.
While I’d never attended before, everything I’d ever heard/read made it seem like the most creative way to approach a conference. It’s technology partnered with fun and, most importantly, expertly-curated speakers. To see it firsthand is a unique and personal experience for each individual. Whatever reason brought you there, you’ll find what you’re looking for.
When you first enter the Moscone Center grounds there’s a lot coming at you. It’s literally a popup National Park that includes waterfalls, mountains, butterflies and Park Rangers. The aesthetics of it all helps lower any anxiety you may feel by the massive number of people in attendance and sessions to get to.
Even when you enter the keynote sessions you’re under a virtual canopy of trees and feel like you’re in a forest while you listen to Tim Cook and Benioff as they chat next to a campfire. It’s far and away from the typical sterile conference environment.
Upon entering any of the 8 buildings you’re met with smiling Park Rangers whose job it is to make your day brighter in whatever way they can. Pair this with DJ’s pumping fun music all day and you’ll find it difficult not to smile as you meander through to get to your destination. I also noticed the use of storytelling in their approach to communicating Salesforce message and values: inclusion, community, gratitude and blazing your own trail. If you’re a forward-thinking individual, these speak to your core values as well.
One of my favorite pieces of the Salesforce approach is how customer-centric it is. By partnering with some of the leaders in the industry, like Tableau, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft, they are able to utilize these strategic partnerships to accomplish their ultimate goal: the most customer-focused model any solution has to offer.
Their customer 360 approach is the best way to fully understand this business approach. It encompasses sales, service, marketing, commerce, & analytics. As my purpose in attending was to understand their take on commerce, I was curious how it fit into their overall solution. Before Dreamforce, I’d only ever known them to be the gold standard of CRM offerings.
It’s a pretty awesome concept and makes complete sense to me now. By using a data driven and AI led approach to sales, service, marketing and commerce, merchants are able to create a highly personalized experience for each customer. The more personal, the higher the conversion. With the use of predictive analytics, this ultimately speeds up the consumer’s buying process, as well.
As a Partner Manager, I found the 360 approach also extends into the solutions SIs provide their customers. In essence, SIs build communities for each merchant that are specifically tailored based on the requirements of their business.
While Salesforce’s commerce solution is still very much in a growth phase, they’ve already won over the likes of Lancome, L’Oreal, Kellogg’s, and Adidas. As they continue to innovate and invest in the commerce side of the business, they are likely to double these numbers in the coming years. Who knew this legendary cloud based CRM tool would be revolutionizing the way we approach commerce?
Our final thoughts
Only time will tell if we attend Dreamforce again, but we certainly found value in attending at least this year. It was a well designed conference, both visually and logistically, with an unbeatable lineup of speakers and a hardcore, dedicated community.
We’re excited to see where our partnership with Salesforce takes us, and hope you’ll stay along for the ride! To learn more about what we’re doing with Salesforce B2C Commerce, check out our announcement press release.