BrightGen's take on Dreamforce 2017

The dust is settling on another Dreamforce, and everyone at BrightGen agreed it was the best yet. There’s something for everyone at Dreamforce, so we asked our team to attend as many of the 3200 sessions as possible and share their personal highlights and key takeaways.

The Marketer
Sarah Hood, Marketing Director

I’m in constant awe of Dreamforce. The sheer scale of the event (over 170,000 registrations this year) the quality of the execution, the sessions and the speakers. The theme for this year was pretty obvious from the get-go and was in line with the new messaging. How Salesforce, Salesforce customers and partners are blazing trails with technology around the world. Hot on the heels of the trailblazer theme was Einstein Artificial Intelligence, and this is very exciting. Data is fundamental to all our businesses and the way that Einstein is able to mine and contextualise our data within Salesforce has the power to truly transform the way we work.

I love the broad range of topics that were covered. Not just the new products, keynotes and technical sessions that we’ve come to expect but also the opportunity to learn about how technology is supporting cleaner oceans and what Salesforce is doing to try and close the gender pay gap - an initiative they are fully committed to that has already cost the business in the region of $6M. They’re certainly putting their money where their mouth is - let’s hope more will follow.

The Media Guru
Duncan Smith, VP Media & Social

For me the main highlight and recurring theme of my Dreamforce experience was Salesforce DMP (previously krux).

A DMP is a centralised data management platform that allows you to create target audiences based on a combination of in-depth first-party, 2nd party and third-party audience data, and create accurately targeted campaigns to those audiences. I’ve been working with DMP's for some time, they began in the Publishing world to enable marketers, agencies, and publishers to partner and utilise data to deliver targeted, one-to-one campaigns. This has now spread across all customer-facing sectors, and it even cropped up in the main Dreamforce keynote this year, with the example of Adidas.

Salesforce DMP is part of the Marketing Cloud and is all about layering and enriching information so it’s becoming a vital tool for those looking to better serve their customers. It’s now fully 'on board' with a new LDS UI, it’s own Trailheads, and is part of making Einstein Analytics more effective, so it really is a key initiative for Salesforce and the wider ecosystem going forward.

The First Timer
Gourav Kumar, Account Executive

As a 'First Timer' attending Dreamforce I was astonished by the sheer scale of the event, this is despite lots of people having told me in the past that it's huge. It completely takes over central San Fransisco for a few days and most people you see are wearing a Dreamforce lanyard! I think you have to see it yourself to appreciate the scale, before I got there I was imagining a larger version of the World Tour events like the one in London every year in May but it's more like five of six of these, happening at the same time, over and over again for a week!

I attended as many of the product keynotes as I could manage, coining the nickname 'Keynote Kumar' in the process, and the recurring theme I saw across the keynotes was AI - specifically how Salesforce intend to leverage the power of AI with Salesforce Einstein.

A session that really got me thinking was Will.I.Am’s - "The Next Evolution of Interactive A.I." He hasn’t made any new music for 7 years because he’s now focused on making Tech! His company 'IamPlus' has developed a platform called Omega that is intended to be a conversational and contextual A.I. platform for enterprise organisations. The demo he gave was all about Omega being your personal assistant in an office setting, where it can join your meetings and provide you with up to date contextual information about your business. A sort of 'Alexa' but for Business use.

Einstein is now becoming a core component of each Salesforce Cloud offering, and as a Salesforce Partner we’re already thinking about how AI powered solutions can help our customers. For example, they announced Einstein bots in the Service Cloud keynote and I can already see how this is a natural tool for some BrightGen customers. These aren’t the chatbots as we know them with simple, limited functions, but sophisticated chatbots that adapt and learn, that when employed in call centre environments are connected to CRM, back-office, and even commerce data. Very exciting!

The People Manager
Steve Warner, Sales Director

I attended a number of very interesting sessions, but the personal highlights for me were AI, sales onboarding and Quip. There's a lot of talk about AI and how it will change how we do business in the future and it’s an exciting time. Three leading AI experts (including Richard Socher, Chief Scientist for Salesforce) spoke on how companies need to ensure they remove bias from the data they use to "train" AI. The example they gave was banks using historical data to inform decisions on loans. If the data they held was age-biased, it would accelerate that bias when used to automate decisions. Bias in data was something I hadn't considered before, so that was very interesting.

As a people manager, the announcement on MyTrailhead and how we could use that for onboarding was another interesting topic from my perspective. Giving new hires a clear onboarding path and being able to measure their progress will empower all our team's, and allow us to focus our training attention on the areas they need more assistance with.

Quip is certainly gaining in functionality and can be a great tool for collaboration by bringing multiple facets of information together in a single place. Although current tools, like Google Docs, have overall feature parity, the ability to combine all that functionality in a single document brings huge benefits.

Michelle Obama's keynote, although not business-focused, was certainly another highlight for me - such an inspirational person and a great addition to the Dreamforce agenda.

The Technical Expert
Keir Bowden, CTO

As always, there were a lot of new features released or previewed. Those that stood out for me:

  • MyEinstein

  • This provides prediction services on custom objects and fields. I can see many use cases for this in BrightMedia, our ad sales solution, including supporting cross/upsell and reducing attrition. Pushing this kind of information to users will really differentiate our solution in the market and also help our customers stand out from the competition.

  • MySalesforce

  • This client branded version of the (formerly) Salesforce1 application is to be published on the App/Google Play Store. It will help large enterprises with adoption and buy-in of the mobile Salesforce application, as staff will perceive it as "their" app rather than Salesforce's.

  • MyLightning

  • This will provide branding for every application and community, and a custom user experience via dynamic pages and lightning flow, plus more enhancements that will improve adoption and usability. Rather than having the choice of forcing every user through the same application or building an entirely new application for each user, customers can now create applications that adjust their behaviour based on the user. One size really can fit all.

  • MyTrailhead

  • This is the big one that I've been demanding for a couple of years now. The Trailhead platform is opened up for every customer to create their bespoke training paths, with the ability to include public and private modules in the same trail, plus videos, powerpoint decks and feedback from colleagues. We'll be able to use this to onboard new staff to BrightGen, the BrightMedia development team, and we can help customers create bespoke training based on the implementations that we've delivered. A game changer.

    The Trailblazer
    Mick Wheeler, Lead Consultant

    I was particularly excited to attend Dreamforce 2017 as I had a speaker slot (which you can watch from the link at the end of this blog) which was a huge personal achievement. Trailhead was very much at the forefront this year, with Moscone West decked out with fiberglass rocks, trees, grass and even a waterfall. The road between Moscone South and North was closed with 'Dream Valley' being created, completely covered in astroturf and home to food stands / cafe's, lots of seating, a music stage and even a rock climbing wall. There was a Trailhead quest to complete, a Dreamforce specific badge and plenty of Trailhead swag on offer (including the coveted trailhead hoody).

    The theme of the main keynote this year was 'We are all Trailblazers' highlighting the fourth industrial revolution and its ongoing impact on the world. Also highlighted were the stories of Trailblazers such as Stephanie Herrera, most famous for bringing us #SalesforceSaturday, and the unique 1:1:1 model that allows Salesforce and other companies to 'do well, and do good'.

    The product announcements focused on customisation, personalisation, deeper AI integration and IoT, with the announcement of myTrailhead, myLightning, myEinstein, mySalesforce and myIoT. My favourite was myTrailhead, it’s a great learning management system, so rolling out to customers, allowing them to create their own internal trails and track metrics is a great move. Hopefully, this means the end of clunky and boring internal training systems.

    As always, the 'customer success expo' was full of Salesforce partners and ISVs showing off their products (and giving out some cool swag). Fidget spinners and socks seemed to be all the rage this year. It is always interesting to see what is available for use with Salesforce, and working at a Salesforce Partner it's good to have a knowledge of what may be out there to provide solutions to customers needs.

    It is always a huge week, and it never ever feels like you get to do everything you want to do, but it's great to be part of such a supportive community and to be able to attend events like Dreamforce.

    The Customer Champion
    Jake Stevens, Account Manager

    I focused on industry specific sessions that would be relevant to my customers at BrightGen and the new platform announcements, and there were two standout takeaways for me.

    Firstly, the announcement from Marketing Cloud around the Distributed Marketing product due for general release in February 2018 was of particular interest, and sure to completely change the way distributed marketing team's engage with their customers and prospects, giving them much more power to be effective.

    Secondly, the integration of the 'newer' additions to the Salesforce platform with the core elements of the platform. When we think of the end-to-end journey of a lead through to closed opportunity and into the post-sale engagement via Service Cloud, we now must also consider the impact that Einstein AI and Salesforce DMP could have on this engagement. This all combines to allow our customers to work smarter, prioritising the customers they know they have a higher chance of engaging with, and in the meantime being able to provide a highly personalised service - even across multiple channels. Customer experience continues to be at the forefront of the platform and the new tools that Salesforce have added are only making this experience a better and more connected one.

    All in all, it was a great conference, and the time we got to spend with customers, prospects and our partners at Salesforce was invaluable. Now it is time to bring the message back to anybody that was not lucky enough to be there.

    See you next year!

    Our Dreamforce sessions, on demand
    Team BrightGen led 3 sessions at Dreamforce 2017, all of which are available to watch on demand:

    'SchemaPuker: Data Model to Diagram in Under Five Minutes Using Heroku' from Mick Wheeler.
    Watch on-demand here

    'Targeted Marketing at Barnardos - an NPSP Success Story' from Chris Eales
    Watch on-demand here

    'No Connection, No Problem' from Keir Bowden
    Watch on-demand here