Salesforce World Tour – Drinking the Kool-Aid

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If only Salesforce was around to help me with my dating adventures years ago. Yesterday was the second stop on the Salesforce World Tour. A colleague and Salesforce evangelist notified me of the event a few weeks ago. Like a teen preparing for a junior high dance, I texted colleagues that had been before one crucial question: What should I wear?

The consensus was comfortable shoes. The event was held at McCormick Place. For those who haven’t been, it is massive. My previous power walking experience there was covering the Chicago Auto Show. Fortunately, this event was limited to one part of the convention space.

As somewhat of an outsider to the Salesforce universe, yesterday was a speed-up round tutorial and provided insight to what Aladdin would call a whole new world. The biggest observations connect to how passionate people are about Salesforce. It isn’t just a SaaS CRM to help track customers and sales teams. For those in attendance, it’s a way of life. I spotted a few people sporting swag from previous events like you’d wear for your favorite sports team. There were also people in wizard and magician hats, contributing to the other universe ambiance. On my way out, I chatted with a man who started at SF a year ago. He previously worked in the call center industry for 20 years. He marveled at how SF hosts these events, gets a solid turnout of vendors and attendees, and it’s all free to attend.

Cool Stuff I Learned at Salesforce World Tour

  1. Big Data is a misnomer. Big data isn’t a fitting term. The amount of data companies are able to collect is massive. It’s nearly beyond comprehension. The challenge is what to do with all that data. Data literacy is an invaluable skill. What data is important? What is actionable? How do you form a strategy based on having data on everything? How do you filter out the noise and make sure you are tracking the important metrics?
  2. GM/OnStar During the keynote, SF closed with showing how connected cars can be reached through SF marketing tools. Companies can create journeys (journey is one of the buzzwords for the SF universe) for action plans. With the robust data from the automobiles, including location, miles to an empty tank, speed, notifications can be pushed via apps, sent as texts or emailed to offer deals. One of the examples was for Dunkin Donuts. As a marketer, they could offer promotions to targeted niches (geo-targeting) and then create an action tree based on if that person interacted with the promo. If they chose to accept it, they could navigate to the closest DD with a few taps on their phone and the directions would display through the car’s GPS/navigation.
  3. Me2B I sat in on a breakout session about advances in the retail industry. Shelley Bransten, SVP, Retail, shared trends in the industry. The landscape has shifted from B2C to Me2B. Consumers now increasingly seek product information on their own instead of relying on sales reps or staff at stores for advice. That shift presents opportunities and challenges for retailers and marketers. The age of marketing with a broad swath is long gone. Now is the age of customization. Bransten highlighted the work of The Land of Nod. They showed how they handle abandoned carts (when you go on a site and add items to your cart, but do not complete your purchase). Through SF, retailers are able to add some predictive analytics to their sites to display items you may also be interested in during your shopping spree. If you leave your cart, they can figure out what your email address is, send a reminder about the items in your cart after a few days, follow-up with a coupon if you still don’t respond. You can also establish certain communities/customers with ads on social networks. And all of this can be…
  4. Automated SF promotes 1 to 1 communication. Through data, you can give the guise of 1 to 1 communication. In the example above for The Land of Nod, those messages were all automated. The marketing team is able to plan out a map of triggers for actions and inactions. Certain behavior triggers different notifications or ads. This automation carries through all of the other product offerings. One of the key ingredients in the Salesforce Kool-Aid is automation. The engineers at SF figured out how to make efficiency key. They call it being customer-centric. The more intuitive the software, the less effort it takes for all involved (except for maybe the engineers).
  5. SF has created its own economy There were at least 20 vendors in the convention center showing off what their add-ons can do when combined with SF. Most focused on vertical-specific tweaks to help clients in manufacturing, retail, logistics. There were also a few consulting companies who assist companies migrate or improve their SF install. There is an entire ecosystem up in the SF cloud.

Food I ate at Salesforce World Tour

It wouldn’t be a Bachelor Basics post without some mention of food. Trays after trays came out with a myriad of finger foods. Lunch was mainly wraps, mini sandwiches and vegetarian offerings. The turkey wrap was the best of the bunch. Four o’clock signaled happy hour and more parades of food. I gobbled down a few artichoke/parm fritters and the spicy beef stew.

People I knew at Salesforce World Tour

Thanks to Leslie and Aaron for the invitation and giving me pointers on how to navigate the new frontier. While starting my training as an admin at the computer bank that resembled an Apple store, one of the SF experts saw my name tag. “Your name is familiar.” It turned out he was a fellow NU alumnus and recognized my name from the marketing/event emails I send out.  It’s all about that 1 to 1 communication!

During the keynote, a user shared an anecdote as his advice to those in attendance. He attributed it to Cortes (I heard it connected to the American revolution and the internet attaches it to most leaders starting with Sun Tzu). The message was to “burn the boats” and fully commit to SF.

There is no turning back.

  • Although it all soungs mega-convenient, it also sounds completely intrusive. You know what I’d really like? When they can find a McDonald’s bag on the side of the road and figure out who threw it there, or when they can tell me who is the owner of the dog that keeps crapping on the sidewalk.