Dreamforce: Same, Same…but Different
This year’s salesforce.com Dreamforce conference was the 9th Dreamforce event I’ve attended (there have been 11 total to date) so I found myself comparing this year’s event with past events for marketing trends and patterns.
Here’s a quick run-down of past Dreamforce announcements/highlights:
- 2013 Internet of Customers (Salesforce1 + ExactTarget)
- 2012 Business is Social (Marketing Cloud, BuddyMedia, Work.com/Rypple)
- 2011 Welcome to the Social Enterprise (Chatter Upgrades, Radian6, touch.salesforce.com)
- 2010 Cloud 2: Database.com + Heroku
- 2009 Chatter
- 2008 Force.com Sites
- 2007 Force.com + Visualforce
- 2006 Apex Code
- 2005 AppExchange
- 2004 Customforce
- 2003 SForce 2.0
So what was different this year?
More acquisition-led product announcements: In the past few Dreamforce events, the main announcements and marketing have increasingly been centered around Salesforce.com’s latest acquisition vs. internally developed products. This year, Salesforce.com’s acquisition of ExactTarget paved the way for top billing in keynotes and dominant placement on the trade show floor.
Simplified branding: Over the past few years, Salesforce.com’s brand hierarchy has become increasingly complex. Multiple product lines and acquisitions has lead to confusing brands for the various users and buyers of Salesforce products. The primary announcement this year’s event was Salesforce1, a re-packaging of platform technologies that included a heavy dose of mobile technologies, alongside a simplification of the major cloud products for Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service. A number of the other sub-brands (mostly acquisitions) that were mentioned at past events have been relegated to minor placement at the event and online. For example, no more mentions of Radian6 or BuddyMedia in the top-level product positioning.
Benioff’s footwear: In past Dreamforce conferences, there was a lot of buzz around Benioff’s colorful socks.This year, attendees were focused on his shoes.The only way to top his shoes next year is to lose the suit. Designer Snuggie couture, perhaps?
Minimal “cloud” positioning: Probably a sign that cloud computing has reached mainstream acceptance, there was very little marketing around why cloud computing was a superior alternative to on-premise computing compared to just a few years ago. The only exception was the last-minute Superpod announcement which provides “semi-private” cloud for enterprise customers, co-located within Salesforce.com’s data center using HP technology.
Massive investment in developer relations: Supporting the Salesforce1 announcement were a number of developer-related activities, including a controversial hackathon that awarded over $1 million cash to winners. Notable was the emphasis on mobile and even hardware-driven hacks and applications.
As one of the more important conferences in our industry, the spectacle of Dreamforce didn’t disappoint – from the high-production keynotes to the buzz of the expo hall to lavish parties. We’re glad to be part of it and are already planning a panda invasion for next year’s conference!