Dreamforce 2022: Key takeaways from Salesforce’s 20th annual event
The buildup to Dreamforce 2022 was massive, and the event lived up to our highest expectations. With Anaplan’s headquarters in downtown San Francisco just steps away from the action, we were thrilled for the event to return live and at full scale. We had a front-row seat for Dreamforce, and had a chance to host some outstanding activities for customers, analysts, partners, and more.
Dreamforce hosted a reported 40,000 live attendees. Although this was smaller than some pre-pandemic highs, it made for some very high quality interactions and engaging breakout sessions.
What were some of our main takeaways from this year’s event? Hint: It was all about people.
A Dreamforce event unlike any other
We should qualify the statement that it was all about people. In addition to marking the largest in-person Dreamforce gathering in nearly three years, the event had a strong focus on making technology work harder in service to people – customers, employees, and partners. How did this all play out?
Continuing to build out the Customer 360 vision with Genie
One of the biggest announcements at Dreamforce was the launch of Genie. Genie is described as “a hyperscale real-time data platform that powers the entire Salesforce Customer 360 platform.” Think of it as a unified view of customer data that can be used throughout the whole Salesforce ecosystem – sales, service, marketing, commerce, you name it. Ultimately, Genie seems designed to put even more actionable customer data in the hands of sellers and marketers, and help brands deliver great experiences.
Of course, tight execution for sales and marketing teams goes hand-in-hand with insightful go-to-market strategy and planning. If a business has insufficient market coverage to begin with, a more complete view of their customer may still not allow them to reach ambitious growth objectives. The challenge, then, for sales and revenue leaders is how to shape go-to-market strategy in a more rapid and agile way.
Inching closer to real time and omnichannel
With the launch of Genie, businesses that run Salesforce are now one step closer to gaining real-time insights and offering in-the-moment interactions across channels and touchpoints. Although this has been progressing for several years, consolidating customer and prospect data instantly across a growing number of online and offline channels has remained an elusive challenge for marketers and others.
It is worth remembering why communicating in real time is important. Why not be content with a reasonable delay? One strong argument in favor of real time is that it more closely replicates human dialogue. This allows businesses to deepen their engagement with customers, partners, and others and build stronger, more human-like relationships. Sustaining and monetizing these relationships into lower customer churn rates, higher conversions, etc. is something many aspire to but few have achieved – particularly in the B2B space.
Another argument for real time from a strategy and planning perspective is that internal and external conditions can change very quickly. Key deals can slip, while “bluebirds” can close successfully within weeks. Partners, buyers, and competitors are in a constant state of flux. When revenue leaders have visibility and real-time insights on their pipeline and targets, they are much better equipped to get plans out on time, and to pivot those plans throughout the year.
Building a better employee experience
Another big announcement made at Dreamforce was Slack Canvas. As stated in the company’s announcement, “Slack Canvas is a new surface in the digital HQ where teams can capture information, find answers, and move work forward. It supplements the linear, real-time collaboration in channels with a permanent place to capture the most important resources and information.” In other words, Canvas promises to provide Slack users with easy-to-build (and easy-to-discover) landing pages for projects or shared initiatives.
These user-friendly features play an important role in improving the digital experience for employees, partner organizations, and more. With hybrid work models continuing for many revenue organizations, the need for a single source of truth for shared projects and cross-functional planning activities is critical.
Living out organizational values
Another element that was on display at Dreamforce was the company’s commitment to social and environmental values. Jane Goodall was there for an engaging conversation with co-CEO Marc Benioff, and the extensive list of luminary speakers included Jennifer Hudson, Bono, and environmental author Leah Thomas. The company also announced the launch of its new Net Zero Marketplace, a market built on Commerce Cloud for carbon credits. These sessions, as well as various initiatives to make the event itself more sustainable, explored the larger role of business in society, and offered ideas on how businesses can operationalize their values within a complex social and geopolitical landscape.
One area that Anaplan has identified for businesses to live out their sustainability values is in supply chain planning. Many consumers are demanding more sustainable offerings today, as well as greater transparency into where and how products and materials are sourced. For supply chain leaders who are under pressure to maintain margins, this requires reimagining their supply chain by connecting data and costs from every third party across the supply chain to find ways to reduce risk and lower costs.
Anaplan has also been on an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) journey of its own, embracing a framework based on three pillars: equity and inclusion, community and sustainability, and trust and integrity. We look forward to sharing more about our progress as we work to create a more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous future for all.
Dreamforce was all about people – their experiences as customers and employees, their expectations, and the relationships that businesses can build.