Dreamforce, Salesforce’s biggest event of the year, recently wrapped up in San Francisco. As a global strategic Salesforce Partner and one of the main sponsors of this event, PwC’s Salesforce Teams joined the event from everywhere around the world. In addition to that, I am pleased to share with you that PwC has been granted 3 Salesforce Awards!
It’s time to reflect on this unique experience: what did I learn? What was it like? What should I share with my colleagues who stayed in Belgium while I traveled to the US? Where is Salesforce going? Where is our industry heading?
Here are my 7 takeaways
1. Extremely inspiring sessions
This year once again, Dreamforce was packed with inspirational sessions. Any of these three sessions would have been worth the entire trip to America.
- Marc Benioff’s talk with Barack Obama
- Emilia Clarke (Mother of Dragons in Game of Thrones)’s chat with neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu, following Deepak Chopra’s session on the limitless possibilities and the untapped potential of the human brain
- Peter Schwartz’s presentation on the Future of IT, or how a day at work – and in life – will look in 2025
The main message resonating from all these leaders: trust in technology is at a crossroads. Technology’s neither good or bad, it depends on how we use it and what we do with it. We have to rebuild trust. We don’t have to choose between doing well and doing good – they’re not mutually exclusive: values create value.
2. “Hey Einstein” — Salesforce brings voice to every customer experience
From the very start 20 years ago, Salesforce’s motto was “Let’s bring the ease of use of consumer apps to business applications”. The idea was to use the browser for business apps, in the same way Amazon or Ebay were using it to ease the consumer experience. Fast forward to 13 years ago: “Let’s create a store for apps (the AppExchange) like iTunes or the iStore.” It’s self-service, self-explanatory and you can install it and use in minutes.
Today, Salesforce wants to bring the voice assistant like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple Siri to the business app world. Einstein Voice. Voice was everywhere at Dreamforce.
Two examples of Voice usage that I have seen
- Einstein Voice Skills will empower admins and developers to build custom, voice-powered Salesforce apps tailored to any need, for any user.
- Service Cloud Voice integrates telephony into a unified agent console, enabling Einstein to offer recommendations and next best actions in real-time to improve service experiences. Let’s wait and see when and how well it’ll support French and Dutch.
If I had to summarise the opening keynote with one word, it would be ‘together’. Salesforce’s new motto is “We bring companies and customers together”, which summarises what the hell Salesforce is so well that I can now finally explain it to my mother.
But behind this simple word ‘together’ lies a world of complexity that Marc Benioff explained as the fourth wave of computing that’s leading us to the ‘single source of truth’, that we tech people call MDM (master data management). Salesforce’s initial bricks in this area is its solution “Salesforce Customer 360 Data Manager”. I attended a 10-minute demo, and the most interesting part is that it’s now available for 3 clouds: marketing, business-to-consumer (B2C) commerce and Service Cloud.
4. PwC wins not one, not two, but three Salesforce Innovation awards!
The Salesforce team from PwC Belgium and the Netherlands that joined me to attend Dreamforce was thrilled to see that our company’s at the forefront of the Salesforce ecosystem. PwC won three Innovation awards for projects we delivered in the last 12 months. One of the awards recognises our expertise in field service management, for a project our colleagues in Germany developed, deployed and rolled out at Leadec. In less than 10 months, 40 different sites went live, and an additional 200 sites are planned to be rolled out in the coming 18 months. Impressive!
Dreamforce was, for me, a unique occasion to connect with PwC Partners and Managers from other territories and to share customer success and lessons learned in delivering Salesforce projects. Not to mention the abundance of networking opportunities. The PwC Hospitality Suite at the Children’s Creative Museum near Moscone West was a real oasis to pause between sessions and to increase intimacy with our customers.
5. Point solutions to increase fundraising and engagement for nonprofit organisations
The Westin St. Francis, first built in 1904 and designed to evoke the sophistication and allure of Paris, was the gravity centre of all DOT org activities and presentations at Dreamforce. I had the opportunity to see the European DOT org team again, but more importantly it was the occasion to get a firsthand demo of the new point solutions which complements the Salesforce offering for nonprofit organisations.
First, Salesforce.org Giving Pages is a new front-end solution (built on Heroku) that seamlessly integrates with Sales Cloud, Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) or Converse, and will help nonprofit organisations quickly create modern, mobile and most importantly search engine-optimised donation forms. Best of all, you can fully and very easily customise the forms with your organisation’s brand. The newly announced Giving Pages solution was presented together with US-based Salesforce.org Payment Services. After discussing with my friend Bas Visser, it was clear that for us in Europe, Findock Payment Hub was the solution to have payment processing fully integrated in Giving Pages.
The second point solution presented was the Nonprofit Cloud Engagement Hub. This allows nonprofit organisations to easily communicate with supporters, curate giving and volunteer opportunities, and grow their impact on their broader community. It serves up highly personalised experiences for community members, and allows constituents to view their giving history with the organisation. This point solution is similar to Salesforce Community (albeit with less functionalities) but built on Heroku. It looks promising, but more on this in a few months when it’s available.
6. The Disneyland experience
Adel, Codey (Salesforce mascot) and Yvonne
For one week, San Francisco was home to the ‘Dreamforce amusement park’, as I affectionately refer to it. Just like Disneyland, you needed to show you badge to be admitted and to participate in all the attractions. While walking around, you could bump into Mickey Mouse… oops, I mean Codey. Like in any amusement park, there were long queues to get a photo with the local mascots, in this case Astro and Einstein. My colleagues Adel and Yvonne managed to make the cover of Vogue – oops again, I mean Trailblazer – magazine. As you can imagine, I was green with envy.
Last but not least, my Dreamforce/Disneyland experience wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the joy and positive vibes I shared with 100,000 other Trailblazers in Oracle Park (something’s amiss with that stadium name) at Dreamfest. The concert by legendary British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac was mind blowing – Mick Fleetwood’s drum solo was beyond belief. There are simply no words to describe my sensations.
7. Evergreen: a new Salesforce development platform for serverless functions supporting any open-source programming language
My last takeaway is the announcement of a new development platform from Salesforce: Evergreen. Serverless functionality and development in containers with orchestration is the next frontier to unleash developers’ power and creativity, and allow building microservices that can be combined into powerful apps.
But the real differentiator is that it comes with built-in customer context, driven by the Salesforce data model and low-code components. Evergreen’s a seamless part of the Salesforce platform, and no extra authentication or networking setup is required. Developers will be able to invoke functions directly from Apex, run logic with org-context and query and write-back updates.
With this new platform, Salesforce can be extended to the infinite and allow the most engaging digital experiences to be built. I’m curious to see the subscription model!
I thoroughly enjoyed Dreamforce and I was like a kid in a toy superstore. I met inspiring people, had fun and learned a lot to help my customers and PwC colleagues add value in their daily work. Thank you Salesforce for organising this unforgettable event, and thank you PwC for giving me the chance to attend.