Full disclosure first: I did not attend Dreamforce 2012 which was held in San Francisco last week, but as always I observed from afar with great interest. Who can blame me? Last year’s Dreamforce included Eric Schmidt, will.i.am, Neil Young, MC Hammer, and Metallica as speakers and performers; last week the stage was graced by Gen. Colin Powell, Tony Robbins, Sir Richard Branson, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. I wouldn’t be surprised one bit next year if we see Marc Benioff and PSY paired up to do Gangnam Style on stage. (This flash mob is nice but it’s no Gangnam Style…)
There’s one thing that rubbed off Benioff during his time at Oracle and that’s Larry Ellison’s showmanship. Ellison made his mark in the competitive yacht racing world when his team won the 2010 America’s Cup. Benioff can be the first CEO to perform the invisible horse dance during an annual conference. Even Ellison would pay to see that!
And nearly 50,000 faithful fans (approx. 90,000 registered) made the pilgrimage to San Francisco last week to see Benioff and his company’s latest product announcements. Salesforce.com has been synonymous with enterprise cloud software, thanks to a consistent marketing message since its inception. And who doesn’t love SaaSy the mascot? The word SOFTWARE with a red circle and diagonal line through it. The message is clear: NO SOFTWARE. Great mascot but kind of hard to give her (him?) a good hug.
Of course we all know that software is there except it’s OPP (other’s people’s property), in the salesforce.com cloud. But point taken. In 2011 Benioff brought Chatter to center stage, sort of an enterprise Twitter without the 140-character limit and without followers who spam about iPhone deals. The social enterprise theme continues this year with more refinement as evidenced by keynotes: Sales Cloud (CRM), Service Cloud (customer service), Cloud App Platforms, Marketing Cloud (absorption of Radian6 and Buddy Media), work.com, and again, Chatter.
In the Service Cloud area a noteworthy announcement came from Genesys, world’s #1 CTI software maker. On the first day of Dreamforce 2012, Genesys Connect was unveiled (press release here) along with its own business unit. The product itself isn’t much of a surprise — there are a couple of third party Genesys connectors available on AppExchange today. But with Genesys Connect the company has further productized the offering with native integration of the Service Cloud interface and environment and made deployment simpler by shipping pre-defined templates for interaction routing. Historically, Genesys prefers to source from third party partners for custom adapters and connectors and instead focus on its core CTI suite. But the fact that it has now established a spanking new business unit for Genesys Connect seems to indicate that it has dug the trenches and will be directly in the connector business for the long haul.
Also noteworthy was Benioff’s announcement of two salesforce.com offerings that’ll come in 2013. Not yesterday, not today, not tomorrow, but some time next year. This is a bit unusual and I attribute it to competitive pressure as the user base surged. The first is Chatterbox, a file-sharing feature for Chatter. Some analysts compare it to Box (salesforce.com is an investor) and maybe even Dropbox, but only available within the Salesforce cloud. The other announcement was a tool to enable a single sign-on (SSO) identity across all its cloud offerings. How can you talk about being a leader in enterprise cloud software (amazing! seamless! social!) with a product that doesn’t allow basic file sharing and SSO, right? Let’s hope Benioff delivers in 2013.
Dreamforce 2012 showcased a salesforce.com that’s matured and ready to be a one stop shop for all the core enterprise software from the cloud. Additionally, in order to maintain momentum it has made strategic partnerships and acquisitions to position itself as the clear choice of enterprise social software provider, especially if your company is already enjoying the fruits of the salesforce.com ecosystem. But is its social enterprise theme becoming a little stale after several years? Some may suggest that companies have learned the social lesson which they have lesser control, and moved on to focus on effective collaboration within the enterprise. And to that point I hope salesforce.com will make of something its January 2011 acquisition of Dimdim, an online collaboration software maker.
Already salesforce.com is inviting users to Dreamforce 2013, again in San Francisco. Keeping the dream (and hype) alive…