Salesforce has had much success in spite of the pandemic, surpassing even SAP in revenue to arguably become the world’s largest enterprise IT app provider. Dreamforce is the largest software conference in the world for Salesforce customers, partners, employees, and enterprise tech experts.
After two years of virtual and hybrid events, the Salesforce community was back in offline mode in San Francisco in September 2022, with announcements, previews and a roadmap of the upcoming year. The conference saw more than 40,000 in-person attendees and many more online viewers.
This was Dreamforce’s 20th anniversary and there were some important updates this year, including new product updates from Slack, a new customer data platform, and even a platform to purchase carbon credits and work towards action against climate change. In keeping with the remote and hybrid work cultures that have emerged from the pandemic, Salesforce introduced remote employee experience solutions and collaboration tools.
Here are the key takeaways from the Dreamforce 2022 conference.
Real-time data in a single platform with Salesforce Genie
The major announcement at Dreamforce 2022 was Salesforce Genie, a new customer data platform with a suite of customer data management tools and analytics services. With Genie, Salesforce will be able to add real-time capabilities to its existing CRM functionalities. With 500 customers already using Genie, Salesforce now opens this CDP to general use and runs Genie on its public cloud infrastructure, Hyperforce. Salesforce announced some big plans for Genie, with all of Salesforce clouds getting an automatic update.
With Genie, Salesforce re-envisions its existing Salesforce marketing customer data platform, opening it up to more users, and not just the Marketing Cloud subscribers who have opted for the CDP. Genie is a customer experience data orchestration platform and brings in superior AI and automation capabilities to the rest of the platform.
With Genie, Salesforce wants its CDP to include more mainstream functions, extending to vertical clouds and specific business workflows. Pre-built tools for Genie will be available to users of Marketing, Service, E-commerce, and Sales clouds. Users of Tableau, Slack and MuleSoft will have access to these tools too.
Salesforce Genie uses customer metadata from Salesforce, outside sources, and different cloud vendors to build a customer graph. This graph can be used to create individual customer journeys and actions, using AI and ML that connect the metadata to Flow automation. This ensures that companies can activate workflows and actions based on data changes, ensuring immediate communication with customers in their specific channels of choice.
Flow Builder runs nearly 44 billion flow automations every day, helping companies to save time and money. Salesforce Flow is a low-code platform, which means that non-coders can use the automations without the need for a programming interface. Flow helps companies parse complex business processes and data, triggering appropriate actions.
This saves companies 100 billion hours of manual work every month, adding $2 trillion in potential customer value. With the no-code revolution in full swing, Flow is a great way to help companies deal with the shortage of experts and tech talent.
What makes Genie’s proposition unique is that unlike business intelligence operations, which you typically perform at the end of the day using data streams, you can actually get real-time business intelligence reports on financial, accounting, and manufacturing data, including data streams of customers. You can create complex and layered actions, connecting them to real-time purchase data, browser behavior data, customer preferences, and sales recommendations.
According to MuleSoft’s latest study, 70% of companies do not provide connected user experiences. Today’s customer goes through different touch points to get to their purchase. When companies want to build personalized and even predictive experiences for their customers in real-time, they use 976 different applications to run their business and track their customers, leading to disjointed customer data and redundant customer experiences.
Salesforce Genie combines data sources and filters out only the relevant information that a customer needs at any given point of time in the sales cycle. It uses real-time automation and machine intelligence in the same platform, providing more contextual and qualitative data for final actions. Salesforce Genie recently announced a data-sharing partnership with Snowflake, which means that Snowflake and Genie can be connected with just three clicks, helping customers make the most of Customer 360 across both data lakes.
Slack Canvas and an Improved Version of Slack Huddles
Another huge announcement from Dreamforce is the launch of Slack Canvas, a new surface where remote teams can curate, collaborate, and share essential information within their Slack channels. Slack Canvas is an employee experience solution that makes internal and remote collaboration easy. It enables integrations with various applications, pulling up information easily in Slack, which means that remote workers can pull out, retrieve, save, and share specific information whenever they need it. This will save employees a lot of time, especially if they are looking for essential information within their Slack chats. With Slack Canvas, you can integrate one canvas to a channel. Slack Canvas can also accommodate social media posts, file links, images, text, and even files from other software supported by Salesforce, including Jira, GitHub, and Tableau. It can even be integrated with Flow, which immediately triggers message-based actions and solutions in Slack Canvas.
Salesforce recently acquired Slack, combining Salesforce’s CRM brilliance with Slack’s digital workplace solutions. The purpose of introducing Slack Canvas is to improve team collaboration and increase the efficiency of remote selling.
There are many benefits to Slack Canvas, including quicker lead response time and 60% greater forecasting accuracy. There is also a significant reduction in meeting preparation time. Slack is envisioned as platform where real-time information is captured and used in a dynamic way because data is a critical part of the customer experience in sales.
This information is not just on Slack but in other apps, software, and workflows that your company uses. For instance, you can connect a Slack Canvas to a Slack Connect project, helping teams to customize and deliver data-driven campaigns and increase customer engagement.
With Slack, a lot of important data is buried under a flood of messages and Canvas addresses this challenge by sifting the right information out. Employees lose a lot of time looking for specific data and according to this report by McKinsey, employees spend 20% of their work time on trying to retrieve information and data on their customers. Slack Canvas is built to suit the needs of marketing, design, and sales teams in running their campaigns, projects, and sales accounts. Canvas also encourages cross-functional work and planning, giving companies a single pane of glass view of different workflows and functions.
Using Slack Canvas, you can collaborate in real time in Slack channels, organize and share information, and build workflows into Slack channels, posing a definite threat to Microsoft Office. Slack is built to be a digital headquarters of sorts, where teams can collaborate using Salesforce’s 2500+ apps, automations, and tools, all of which can be used on Slack Canvas. You can even embed workflows onto the Canvas page.
Another key takeaway during the Dreamforce presentations on Slack Canvas is an improved version of Slack Huddles, a Canvas capability enabling multi-person sharing by providing co-working sessions in the digital headquarters. With Huddles, Canvas can support multi-person screen sharing, video, message threads, and lightweight video. It can also equip developers with reusable modular functions that they can use to build industry solutions for companies and reduce redundant development. Developers can also use it to customize workflows.
With Huddles, you can enter quick conversations on any channel immediately and even use post-huddle threads to collaborate and curate important data. Huddles currently supports industries such as technology, media, retail, financial services, communications, and manufacturing.
Salesforce Well-Architected Framework
A brand new feature announced during the Architect Keynote was the Salesforce Well-Architected Framework, which helps architects implement projects, create guidelines, and design robust solutions on the highly customizable Salesforce Customer 360 Platform. The new Well-Architected Framework shares architectural best practices and guardrails to help build scalable solutions.
Hyperforce, which was launched in 2020, is Salesforce’s public cloud infrastructure and platform architecture, designed to enable Salesforce Cloud products on other major public clouds like Azure, Google, and AWS. Dreamforce 2022 saw some key Hyperforce announcements too.
Hyperforce is a hyper scale data platform that integrates with Einstein AI to provide real-time data updates. It also gives companies more control over their data. Hyperforce provides security, data residency models, and a new External Encryption Ecosystem. The new External Encryption Ecosystem was devised to shield Salesforce against meticulous data residency requirements in other countries. Salesforce can use cryptography to give full control to the customer to operate Hyperforce in any way they see fit and this will help them adhere to specific data privacy rules across the globes.
Salesforce partners with Meta
A huge takeaway from Dreamforce is Salesforce’s new partnership with WhatsApp, which will help Salesforce customers to use WhatsApp Cloud API, a Meta service used to send and receive messages using a cloud-hosted WhatsApp Business API. Salesforce Customer 360 and the Marketing Cloud Customer Data Platform will now integrate with WhatsApp to help organizations connect with their customers, run marketing campaigns, streamline their communications, and sell directly on chat.
This helps companies using Salesforce to deliver rich, end-to-end customer experiences and to scale their business processes significantly. Salesforce employees can now message their customers by using WhatsApp Business without the cost of Salesforce hosting its own servers. Companies can also use AI and automation from the CDP to increase engagement using the WhatsApp integration.
Net Zero Marketplace
Sustainability and environmental protection are crucial concerns in today’s business and technological landscapes. In Dreamforce 2022, Salesforce announced its Net Zero Marketplace, a climate action hub and carbon credit marketplace built on Salesforce’s Commerce Cloud. Net Zero Marketplace will be available in October in the US and in other countries in 2023. The new platform also integrates with Net Zero Cloud, which is Salesforce’s carbon accounting platform. These platforms are great ways to encourage companies to embrace environmentally sustainable business practices and to create high quality alternatives to carbon reduction.
The concept of Net Zero Marketplace is simple. Companies that fulfil their net zero commitments can use the Net Zero Marketplace to buy or sell carbon credits, and offer third-party rated carbon credits. The platform will connect buyers and vetted environmental entrepreneurs. It will also function as an e-commerce platform to offer and sell third-party carbon credits.
Companies can use Net Zero Cloud and Marketplace to use automation to track supplier emissions, forecasting risks, and more. These platforms are especially useful for small and medium-sized companies, who want to purchase them but do not know how to do so or whom to trust. With Net Zero Marketplace, they get a reliable and transparent platform to buy carbon credit. They can also use the platform to create sustainable businesses.
New MuleSoft Products and Features
MuleSoft is a famous integration software platform, connecting apps, services, devices and data. Dreamforce 2022 had a packed MuleSoft Keynote and it released information on MuleSoft RPA and MuleSoft Composer, which now come with new automation features. These announcements caused a lot of excitement, with companies looking to use MuleSoft RPA to unlock unstructured data in documents and images.
An interesting observation about Dreamforce 2022 is that Salesforce is sharpening its focus on industries, with enhancements to Energy and Utilities Cloud, Communications Cloud, and Manufacturing Cloud.
Digital transformation across industries is also a key focus area, and a platform like MuleSoft gives companies the tools and technologies to take automaton to the next level. With its AI-powered bots, MuleSoft is the only automation tool available to integrate app and data and to automate workflows so seamlessly that companies save money and create revenue at the same time. MuleSoft can also integrate real-time data from any app or system by using clicks, not code, to enable favorable business outcomes.
MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform, for instance, can also help companies build intuitive and effective customer experiences packed with features. Companies can use this platform to build automated workflows and business processes.
With digital transformation, it is important to create connected digital experiences. With Salesforce offering diverse products like Sales Cloud, Platform, and Tableau, MuleSoft helps connect all the apps, data, systems, and automations, helping companies to facilitate multi-system tasks.
MuleSoft’s Keynote at Dreamforce 2022 outlined how its AI-powered bots are automated through the UI, which means that they are compatible with any system or software, even systems with pre-built connecters. Composer Templates, for example, are pre-built automations that companies can use to build immediate automations, enabling a drag-and-drop user experience.
Other updates and innovations
There are many other announcements and takeaways from Dreamforce 2022.
Marketing Cloud Innovations and Integrations: Salesforce announced the integration of Marketing and Commerce Cloud on its core platforms, with a lot of potential for low-code development. Companies can use the new Marketing Cloud innovations to engage with customers across devices and various touch points.
Real-Time Journey Orchestration: Marketing teams can use Real-Time Journey Orchestration to respond immediately to customer queries and actions.
Account Engagement API Enhancements: Want to mine and automate real-time customer engagement data across the channel and drive pipeline efficiency and growth? Salesforce’s Account Engagement API enhancements make it possible to integrate data across Salesforce’s Customer Data Platform and Marketing Cloud Engagement platforms.Not only does this reduce cost and deliver a more scalable API that can integrate with external segmentation tools but it also sets triggers for customized journeys, all operating on real-time data involving location, purchase history, and other details.
APPSeCONNECT Integration Platform: Automation seems to be the buzzword at Salesforce, with the announcement of the APPSeCONNECT Integration Platform. This platform will help companies connect multiple systems with the Salesforce CRM application. With this single platform, companies can improve business metrics considerably.
Scale Center: Dreamforce 2022 had many takeaways for Salesforce architects too. Salesforce’s Scale Center delivers real-time visibility into data metrics and insight, as well as graphical visualizations that can track automation performance, test scale, and zoom into important metrics, especially on days when there is a surge in purchase.
Dreamforce 2022 saw Salesforce delivering some phenomenal CRM and Slack updates, enabling a shift to real-time capabilities and applications that simply were not possible before. Salesforce has made the most of its Slack acquisition by solving the enormous problem of acquiring real-time from multiple sources, which is a leap forward for the CRM tech giant. Most importantly, Salesforce’s commitment to using technologies to address environmental concerns truly shines through, with innovations like the Net Zero Marketplace delivering carbon credit market transparency.
Abhishek Sivasubramanian works with Suyati as a Development Lead in Salesforce CRM & .NET Application Development. He is an International Speaker at world’s largest conferences like Dreamforce, IEEE and ICWS and has been a mentor for many newbies & professionals in IT Industry.