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Dreamforce 2012 – The Big Picture and Takeaways

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Another Dreamforce has come and gone.  As in the past, I came home and needed a day just to get my head back on straight and my feet back on the ground.  I’m going to do two things in this blog post.  First I’ll talk about a few major themes that I picked up on in the messaging from Salesforce.  Second I have a few tips to share about coming back from Dreamforce and making the most of the experience.

Business is Social

Yes, it’s a pretty buzzword laden term, but hear me out.  People working together is what gets things done, and now tools are being created AND USED to make this happen.  Chatter is one way to tie people together, but it also fits into a larger ecosystem of “socializing” your enterprise applications.  In the past, social components were always an addon that required users to learn additional systems and replicate data in more places.  With Chatter and other platform level social tools, this is no longer the case and it’s all happening in one place.

Thinking out to the larger enterprise picture, more and more companies are investing in social infrastructure to both increase their employees effectiveness, and interact with customers.  Remember when people used to write a physical letter to a company?  And 10 years ago that became email?  Now those communications are coming in through Tweets and Facebook Messages.  Listening technology is finally catching up.

It’s a Trust Revolution, Baby!

I’ve never heard the term Trust Revolution until Benioff’s main keynote.  At first I thought “Great, more buzzwords”, until he started painting a picture of what this means.  I picked up on two themes – First, a trust revolution is that providers of cloud technology have proven the technology.  Cloud tech is now trusted and reliable, and in many instances (Especially Salesforce), transparent.  Check out trust.salesforce.com to see how Salesforce outlines system status.  It’s the best in the business.

The second theme with the Trust Revolution is that with many cloud applications, there has been a lack of interoperability between them since we are effectively using many vendor’s infrastructures.  Initially, many vendors tried to be “everything to everyone”, but the focus is shifting back to a “best of breed” approach.  With this new focus, there have been HUGE gains made in federated login and identity management.  Salesforce annouced that they will now be an identity provider and is actively working with many vendors to implement support for it.  Imagine, log into Salesforce and also login to all of your enterprise applications at the same time.  It’s truly turning the browser into your operating system.  Exciting stuff, although potentially more forward looking than some of the other things at the conference.  If you’re interested in this, talk to your account executive to get information on timing of releases.

Mobile – Still a Big Deal

Mobile is still HOT.  Salesforce gave touch.salesforce.com a lot of love during keynotes and product demonstrations.  Touch has been a bit quiet since last Dreamforce, it turns out they were digging in and really making the product more robust to “re-release” it at this year’s conference as generally available.

At Red Argyle, our mobile app developers are chomping at the bit to start implementing touch solutions so this is great news, as we now can start building native, touch enabled applications that will work on any modern browser, on any device.

Marketing – BOOM!

Salesforce unveiled a new cloud, called the “Marketing Cloud”.  It combines a few key services that Salesforce has acquired over the past year.  Radian6, Site.com, and Buddy Media into a potent marketing engine to drive enterprise scale messaging.  And being Salesforce, this is all incorporated right into the core Salesforce platform, instantly combined with and adding to your data.

There’s a big shift going on and Salesforce is leading the pack bringing this offering to the market. They believe that marketing budgets will exceed IT budgets within 5 years and they are making a play to get ahead of this. I can see the truth in this statement, as IT infrastructure diminishes and the need for social engagement increases, there could very well be a shift of spending into marketing activity.

OK So Now What?

Every year I get back from Dreamforce and feel like I have a Post-Dreamforce hangover.  The week was such an emotional high, so much fun, and so much magic, that coming back to the desk is like going from color back to black and white.  I’m here to tell you – It does not have to be that way.

In my experience, the only half of the value of a conference happens from attending, the other half comes from properly applying what you learned while there.  Whatever you’re doing right now, stop and think hard about the feeling of total awesomeness you had last week and bottle it up.  Literally, remember hard what it felt like and hold on to it.  Now the challenge is strategically tapping into that feeling throughout the year to keep the energy high.  Of course there are some practical things to help with that.

#1 – If you made friends, keep them!  Linkedin/Follow/Friend anyone that you had great conversations with.  Even reach out to them and have a chat.  Surrounding yourself with like-minded Dreamforcers will help you keep the energy high.  Another often overlooked thing is that session presenters are MUCH more available than you think and they present because they’re passionate about the topic.  They’ll be happy to talk to you if you have questions.

#2 – Go back through your agenda and organize your notes.  If you didn’t take notes, make some right now.  Write down three takeaways from each session you wanted to attend and three action items that you can followup on.  Did you see a product at a session that looks interesting?  Schedule a demo, did you learn a great new formula?  Take a note of it and implement it.

#3 – The other sessions are coming.  Over the next few weeks, Dreamforce will begin releasing them to Youtube.  Recommend reviewing the session listing and picking out all the ones you wanted to attend but couldn’t and make your own list that you can then sit back and review session content.

#4 – Schedule time to dream.  On your calendar, schedule an hour of Dreamforce followup/education per week for a year.  Make this your “special happy time” to do the above and keep making small progress every week.  I’m a big fan of “Getting Things Done” system and identifying a few actionable items per week will keep you moving forward.

Alright, I hope this was a helpful roundup and followups for you regarding Dreamforce 2012.  I’d love if you had any other thematic observations from the conference to share or actionable followup items, leave a comment and don’t be shy!

Garry