Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is nothing if not a showman, and Dreamforce 2013 is about to get it from him with both barrels during his opening keynote address at 9 a.m. PT today. On the first day of the conference in San Francisco yesterday, attendees flocked to sessions that they thought would help them in their daily routines. They also shopped around for new customer relationship management (CRM) systems.
Marketing Cloud Takes Second Stage
We thought the big theme at Dreamforce 2013 would be the marketing cloud, but it turns out it's really about Salesforce1, the mobile app based Salesforce of the future. It was logical to guess the emphasis would be on the marketing cloud. After all, company shelled out $2.5 billion for ExactTarget just this summer.
However, Salesforce1 was the big announcement on day one, even though details were thin. The company is likely waiting until Benioff reveals more in his keynote.
As a public company, Salesforce has to keep Wall Street interested in its longterm plans and that's exactly where Salesforce1 fits in. With a little help from ExactTarget, Salesforce reported revenues grew by 36 percent in the third quarter, so we'll for sure hear more about it later in the week during the marketing cloud keynote.
Andrew Gibson, a self described Salesforce newbie, said he thought Salesforce1 could benefit his job with Kimberly Clark, a personal health care products company. Gibson was able to catch a bit of Benioff's chat session with Dropbox CEO Drew Houston.
"It was more low key than I expected. I suspect that will change tomorrow," he said, alluding to Benioff's main keynote.
What Customers Want
CMSWire.com found Venu Manchukonda perusing the Cloud Expo portion of Dreamforce, the area where Salesforce and its partners demonstrate products and even scratch out a few new deals.
Manchukonda, who works for New York City-based Mercer, said he was less interested in what the partners were doing and more interested in what was going on at Salesforce. He was chatting with one of the Pardot team representatives when we caught up with him.
Matt Enos was doing the same. Enos works in San Francisco for Service Source, a contracts servicing group and one of the sponsors of Dreamforce 2013. His company uses Eloqua for marketing automation, but the contract runs out next March, he said.
"There's maybe a fifty-fifty chance we'll switch to a new system like Pardot, but we're just here checking out our options," he said.
Looking for Information
Ashley Duff and Latanya Skinner came in from Arlington, Texas as part of a team for GM Financial, and they were busy soaking up information on Salesforce tools like Radian6. "We use Salesforce quite a bit and we're rolling out Radian6 now, so we've got a full week ahead of us," Duff said.
Salesforce users Sacni Leon and Richard Keys MacDonnell are part of a Newark, N.J.-based Logitech team. Logitech uses Oracle's Right Now technology, but is using an older version of it because of its heavy customizations, Leon said. There is a fifty-fifty chance the company will move to Salesforce for CRM in the future. Right Now also powers Logitech's website FAQ and knowledge management, MacDonnell said, a prospect that likely complicates any potential move to an entirely new system like Salesforce.
A couple of other Salesforce veteran users we spoke with worked for less technology focused companies. Tawni Mabel works for ARUP Laboratories, a reference laboratory in Salt Lake City. She said she was Dreamforce with a cadre of 20 of her associates. "I've only been with the company for a few months, but I came along because I have Salesforce experience," Mabel said.
Mabel used Salesforce at her previous job with Cisco food distributors. Her day one highlight was a session on merging marketing and sales, she said.
Not everyone we spoke with was as excited, however. An employee of Nutiva Inc, a specialty supplier of health foods like hemp, chia and coconut, said she had been using Salesforce for nine years. She seemed overwhelmed by the size of the conference.
The woman, who declined to give her name, said she had some trouble with a Salesforce consultant in the past year, which she tried unsuccessfully to resolve at the conference. She did not plan on attending a second day, although she didn't leave empty handed. Thunderhead.com, a customer experience management company, was giving away prizes at a virtual game table, and the Nutiva employee randomly won a Kindle Fire HD tablet from Amazon.