Dreamy Dreamforce

I stopped by Dreamforce, Salesforce’s users’ conference here in San Francisco, yesterday to check things out.  I have attended these gatherings off and on for 10 years and worked on one of the first AppExchange partnerships with the company years ago.

The place was on fire and felt a bit like a rock festival – Salesforce had lined up Metallica to play at the gala yesterday evening so the analogy isn’t too far fetched.  Packed with people, hundreds of AppExchange partner booths.  A focus on making business social – using Salesforce Chatter to connect folks within and without an organization.

A number of things struck me

  1. The SaaS ecosystem has arrived.  The idea of an ecosystem of SaaS offerings, which seemed like a wild idea 10 years ago, has taken off.  Benioff is building something that has momentum.
  2. Hype matters.  An analyst accused Benioff of “…spending like a drunken sailor…” and Dreamforce exhibits this (What do you figure Metallica’s fees for the gig were?   $250 K?) but his aim is to give a sense that this is the future, this is where software is headed.
  3. Social is different.  I met with an AppExchange partner that provides a social media-centric CSS platform to B2C companies.  They support customer interactions in a completely different way than what folks are used to (very little of the call into an 800 number and a navgation through a phone tree.  Lots of live chat, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn interaction).
  4. Social matters.   Benioff has bet the future of Salesforce on making business social, by way of Salesforce Chatter.    This idea, which would have seemed a little skewed even four years ago, makes a lot of sense.  I saw a presentation from a company I know here in the Valley that build ecommerce platforms for B2C companies within Facebook.  They are growing like gangbusters.
  5. It’s still just software.  I have used Salesforce at 1/2 a dozen companies for about 10 years.  As an SFA tool, it is a huge improvement over what preceded it (Remember synching contacts using Goldmine or ACT?), but it still lacks features and has quirks that make some activitivies labor intensive and aggrevating.
And, this video has been viewed 48 MM times.  That is the population of a good sized country.

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