The pandemic did not spare Salesforce’s iconic annual Dreamforce conference. In 2020, Salesforce re-imaged Dreamforce in full virtual mode. Four days of live-streaming attracted 140 million views. The content included keynote, trailblazer sessions, personalized content, and other digital learning experiences. This event set new benchmarks for virtual conference experience.
Dreamforce 2021 took place between September 22nd and September 24th. This year, it was a hybrid setup. Most of the sessions continued in the online mode, but there were about 1,000 trailblazers in Howard Street, San Francisco. Plans for similar trailblazers in London and other key cities of the globe went up in smoke, thanks to the onslaught of the Delta variant. But delegates and participants still connected from across the world, especially India and the Asia Pacific.
Dreamforce has now become a global campus. Marc Benioff, the CEO, delivered the keynote address from San Francisco. But participants joined, explored, and enjoyed from anywhere on the globe.
The big happening in Salesforce 2021 is Salesforce+.
Salesforce+ takes online experiences to a new level. It offers live broadcasts in high quality, to any part of the globe. Users may also stream original content series on demand.
For Dreamforce 2021, Salesforce+ offered four live channels. Together it delivered 100+ hours of innovative and inspiring content.
Prime Time: Showcasing the best of Dreamforce, including Marc Benioff’s keynote address, and other sessions by global leaders, top Salesforce executives, and other change agents.
Trailblazer: Sessions from pioneers, innovators, life-long learners, and other movers and shakers. As usual, these insights showcase how to leverage Salesforce in the best possible way. For instance, explore how the latest Customer 360 product innovations come to life.
Customer 360: First-hand experiences and behind-the-scene insights from Trailblazers, or Salesforce expert innovators
Industries: A rich treasure house of stories on how innovators reimage their businesses to drive growth.
The big product update in Dreamforce 2021 is on Slack integrations. Salesforce acquired the Slack collaboration tool in 2020.
In August 2021, Salesforce launched the integration of Slack with the sales, service, and marketing clouds, and Tableau for analytics. At Dreamforce 2021, the company announced integrations across several additional products. Slack will now have integration with the commerce and experience cloud, Trailhead platform, MuleSoft, and Quip. Slack integrations will also take place across most of Salesforce’s industry clouds and products. Almost all of Salesforce products including sustainability, corporate and investment banking, healthcare and life sciences, philanthropy, and non-profit and education, will now have Slack integrated.
Slack gets several new feature additions as well. Most noteworthy is Clips, a new way to create and share audio, video and screen recordings. Users may now share such rich media across any channel or direct messages in Slack, improving flexibility.
Another new feature, Sponsored connections, enables external communications through Slack. Users may communicate with people outside the company without the recipients having to pay for a Slack plan.
The other feature additions to Slack announced during Dreamforce 2021 include:
- New alerts around order management, deal inactivity, pipelines, deadlines, meetings, new content in the CMS, and more.
- Innovative ways to engage with clients, share and review documents, and bring multiple coworkers into a channel for problem-solving.
- Responding to data visualizations for typed in business questions.
- Co-opting Einstein Discovery for AI-powered predictions and recommendations, by Spring 2022.
- Digital deal rooms for accessing, updating and sharing CRM records, by Summer 2022
- New ways to create workflows, and to build Slack apps pulling in data from Salesforce CMS
- New versions of Slack that run on a government-certified cloud environment, factoring in the operational requirements of the US Federal government.
Bret Taylor, the chief operating officer of Salesforce, positioned Slack at the top of the next-generation Customer 360 platform. In his words, Slack offers a single system of engagement that connects employees, customers, partners, and others with bots, applications, and everything else, in a single, integrated platform.
Domino’s Pizza, one of the early pioneers of Slack integration, revealed that the Salesforce – Slack integration helped the company improve efficiency even when the pandemic brought about large-scale disruption. Slack enabled deep customization and offering unique ordering options for customers.
The Focus on Digital HQ
Salesforce is positioning the Slack integration as a new approach to work. The pandemic has sped up a change in the mindset of work from “going to some place” to “doing something.” Employees work from anywhere, connecting to customers who may be anywhere in the globe.
In such changed realities, an enterprise needs a digital HQ where employees, customers, and partners can connect and thrive. The Slack integrated Salesforce platform will enable enterprises to build their digital HQs on Salesforce, and enable “work-from-anywhere” seamlessly.
In his keynote address, March Benioff positioned the Digital HQ as a place where he can “bring everyone in and empower them, and practice inclusive capitalism.” In his words, the COVID-19 pandemic offers enterprises a rare opportunity to reinvent themselves digitally. Salesforce’s Digital HQ will enable them to do so, and while on it, make work more flexible, productive, and inclusive.
For Salesforce, the pandemic induced remote work set-up has been successful and will remain a critical part of work in the future. Employees have become more productive, teams engineer better, and there is better access to the C-Suite. But on the flip side, physical connectivity has taken a beating. Salesforce’s internal survey reveals 60% of employees wanting to come into the office, but not full time. In line with such sentiments, Marc Benioff announced giving teams a choice on which day or time they need to meet at the office.
Entrenching Partner Power
Salesforce recognized the important role played by partners in driving the company’s digital transformation forward. Partners extend the functionality of the Salesforce platform and help customers implement solutions.
A key announcement in Dreamforce 2021 was partners in all tiers set to receive unlimited partner premier technical support. Partners can now submit unlimited technical support cases and collaborate with their dedicated partner support engineers. They get access to 24×7 resolution. ISV partners receive even deeper support. They get access to platform expert consultations, which allow them to increase their footprint in advanced products such as Marketing Cloud and Einstein.
Partner programs also get a fillip. Salesforce’s Navigator program makes it easy for partners to validate their industry expertise, showcase customers credentials, and establish their product knowledge.
The partner program now offers vouchers to cover the cost of Trailhead certification exams. Such certifications make customers feel comfortable hiring partners.
Dreamforce 2021 had Salesforce executives explaining to customers how to add Slack. For instance, Lynn Cohen, one of Salesforce’s senior directors, explained how partners could apply Slack to create new user workflows or offer services within a business. For instance, Slack would allow hiring managers and job interviewers to exchange information seamlessly. The common theme across such sessions is the unbridled team collaboration and cross-functional coordination that Slack enables.
Jeff Amann, another top Salesforce executive, explained the virtues of MuleSoft to move customers off legacy systems or integrate existing systems with Salesforce.
The Big Push to Renewables
Another key focus area in Dreamforce 2021 was renewable energy. In the keynote, Marc Benioff declared Salesforce as net-zero across the value chain. Salesforce is one of the few companies globally to have achieved net-zero and 100% renewable energy.
Salesforce’s “Sustainability Cloud 2.0” speeds up the customers’ and suppliers’ paths to net zero. Salesforce’s channel partners and customers get the visibility to track and reduce carbon emissions across the value chain. They will also be able to track their carbon emissions and take action to reduce them. The tool comes with investor-grade data for customizable Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting. Several top customers such as Clif Bar, Crowley Maritime, ISDI, MillerKnoll, Uhuru Corp, and Xero have already adopted the sustainability cloud.
Marc Benioff also underscored his commitment to unleash an ecopreneur revolution by growing, conserving, or restoring one trillion trees, and sequester 100 gigatons of carbon. The keynote address also had a slew of other ecological commitments such as:
- Donation of one million dollars to organizations such as American Forests and One Tree Planted. The focus is to advance tree equity and urban canopy in lower-income communities, areas affected by disaster, and similar neighborhoods.
- “Support to Trees for Jane”, a campaign to protect and restore the world’s trees and forests, was inspired by Jane Goodall.
Such innovative climate solutions will have a spillover effect. It will likely speed up the net-zero targets of the entire Fortune 1000 constellation.
The Cultural Connect
Culture has always been important, but in 2021 the pandemic-induced changes make culture more important than ever before.
In the keynote address, Marc Benioff underscored Salesforce commitment to equality as a big aspect of the company’s value system. Salesforce has been a pioneer and a high-profile advocate of equality. The company has always focused on racial and gender equality. Benioff’s keynote extended into the crisis of trust, and the need to emphasize equality more.
Salesforce already has a 1-1-1 stakeholder capitalism model. The company sets aside 1% of its products, 1% of its profits, and 1% of its employees’ time to charity. Dreamforce 2021 reinforced the commitment to this model.
Listening to the customers and doing things well has been the secret of Salesforces’ success. And Salesforce continues its success story. The company achieved $26.3 billion in revenue in 2021. Salesforce channel chief, Tyler Prince announced plans to double the company’s revenue to $50 billion by 2025. He understands that growth will sustain only when the entire ecosystem including consultants, resellers, experts, ISV solution providers, and others, grow.