Salesforce epitomizes the concept of continuous evolution. The CRM has always been at the forefront to co-opt new technologies and innovate.
The company constantly strives to deliver new and cutting-edge functionality and better customer experiences. The annual Dreamforce conference outlines the general trend for the coming years. Salesforce Spring and Winter releases list out the new features and functionality in the CRM. New acquisitions and product launches happen round the year. As you can see, it can be exhausting and near impossible to keep up with all these changes!
But we have compiled literally every key trend/change/areas of improvement that will be unveiled by Salesforce this year. Read on.
1. Acquisitions Unlock a new World of Possibilities
At Salesforce, a new product or functionality launch is just the start of a journey. The company refines and enhances the product over time, factoring in customer feedback, industry trends, changing paradigms, and business requirement.
In 2019, Salesforce acquired Bonobo AI, ClickSoftware, Griddable, Mapanything, and Tableau. In 2020, Salesforce will undoubtedly plan new offerings centred around its investments. There will be several new acquisitions in 2020 as well. More details below.
2. Enhanced Field Service Management Capabilities
Marketing at the customer’s doorsteps and proactive service take centre stage in today’s customer-pampering economy. The winners will be those who push their brand to the consumers. In such a state of affairs, there is a pressing need for enhanced field management capabilities such as visibility into service team movement, real-time upload of field data into CRM, real-time billing, automatic scheduling of technicians, seamless tracking of work orders, and more.
Two of Salesforce’s recent acquisition enhances CRM’s field management capabilities.
Salesforce’s $1.35 billion acquisition of ClickSoftware was a significant milestone in 2019. ClickSoftware improves the field management capabilities of Salesforce Service Cloud significantly. It offers a significant differentiation from Salesforce’s incumbent Field Service Lightning. While Field Service Lightning is not lacking in functionality, it is more an entry-level offering. ClickSoftware delivers field service capabilities on the mobile. It focuses more on specialized needs and more complex environments that require customization. The capabilities of ClickSoftware, combined with Salesforce’s inherent ability for rapid deployments, offer a potent package which will allow Salesforce clients to meet advanced and complex field service management needs seamlessly.
MapAnything, another recent acquisition, integrates location-based intelligence to the software. It helps enterprise users build location-based workflows, greatly assisting sales and service calls. The insights added by MapAnything will help Salesforce CRM users plan the exact number of people needed to complete a task where to put them, and how to optimise their output. The tool enables real-time tracking of agent or employee activity.
Field service management is a key thrust area for Salesforce in 2020. The company’s strong desire to increase its footprint in the manufacturing sector rests on its ability to deliver advanced field management capabilities. Such capabilities will place Salesforce in a prime position to capture the growing market for instrumenting devices and environments in the field, triggered by the Internet of Things. Salesforce has already introduced some early IoT functionality to Field Service Lightning, underscoring the push in this direction.
3. Lightning Platform will take centre-stage
Trends show Salesforce positioning the Lightning platform is its premier offering. In 2019, the company added several user-friendly features to the Lightning platform, scaling up the product and making it more productive for its users.
The recent Winter 20 release gave Lightning a recycle bin, a valuable safeguard against accidental deletions. Another significant enhancement is the ability to generate a condensed, minimalist, view of lists and related lists. This offers the convenience of a hard-copy of a valuable screen.
Admins have their life easier, with improvements in reports. The ability to schedule an auto launcher flow, to start on a particular date and time, and set the frequency is another advantage. This new feature allows Admins schedule flows to run with the same ease as setting up a meeting.
These new features make Lightning distinctively superior to the Classic platform. These incremental improvements will continue in the Spring ’20 and Winter ‘21 releases as well. Many enterprise users migrate to the Lightning platform for these value-for-money features.
4. Mobility to Go Even More Mainstream
Consumers are increasingly shopping and engaging on social media through their smartphones, and especially through mobile apps. The imminent mainstreaming of 5G mobile networks in 2020 will make mobility even more convenient and popular. Salesforce estimates 9% of digital transactions to take place on these emerging touchpoints in 2020.
Improving the speed, security, and reliability of enterprise and consumer-grade mobile experiences is a no-brainer for any online business. But adapting to the ever-changing mobility environment is a challenge.
In 2020, Salesforce will focus on the unmet mobility needs of its users. Salesforce’s new mobile SDK help users build HTML5, native and hybrid mobile apps quickly, and connect it the Salesforce Platform easily. It breaks a significant technical barrier faced by online sellers and sets the tone for things to come.
A new and improved Salesforce app offers the convenient Lightning experience to users on the move. Admins have more power to customise the mobile experience and create a unified Salesforce experience for users.
Expect significant breakthrough announcements in the mobility space, in 2020 and beyond.
5. Focus on Data-Driven Transformation
Data is the bedrock of digital transformation. Salesforce underscored its commitment to data-driven digital transformation by its acquisition of Tableau. Salesforce’s 2019 acquisition of Tableau for $15.7 billion is its biggest company acquisition to date.
Incorporating Tableau into the Salesforce service cloud empowers enterprise customers with powerful data visualization tools. Tableau applies diverse visualization, analytics and Artificial Intelligence to turn distributed data into insights, in real-time.
Tableau’s enhanced analytics capabilities enable decision-makers to understand data better, and make better, smarter decisions. Executives get self-service and embedded decision support. It drives connected customer experiences and speeds up innovation.
Tableau allows Salesforce to position itself to play a greater role in driving digital transformation. In 2020, Salesforce will scale it up significantly. While Tableau will continue to operate independently under its brand, there will be greater integration of Tableau’s capabilities to Salesforce’s staple of existing products.
Digital transformation will be a $1.8 trillion market by 2022. Tableau can expect a significant chunk of this pie.
6. Customer 360 to Deliver Unified customer profile
Unified customer experience is invaluable in today’s digital age. Personalization is the order of the day, and only informed decisions, backed by data can convert opportunities into sales. While most enterprises understand the importance of Big Data analytics, customer data remaining trapped in disparate silos hamstrings many of them. Many enterprises grapple with information silos, legacy infrastructure, inaccurate data, and fragile integration between disparate systems. New compliance laws add to the woes of enterprises.
Salesforce Customer 360 helps enterprises overcome these challenges. It helps enterprises gather data from sales, marketing, and other places, at a single point. The integrated and ready-made availability of data offers a complete, single view of the customer. Businesses have it easy to forecast sales opportunities, chalk out marketing plans, solve customer service issues and make accurate product recommendations.
The addition of Tableau makes Salesforce Customer 360 stronger than ever. It combines the complete, intelligent view of customers with self-service analytics, empowering lay users to work with data for any use case.
Customer 360 illustrates Salesforce perfecting the art of leveraging data as a source of competitive advantage. In 2020, Salesforce will position Customer 360 as an easy way to deliver personalized experiences to consumers, and meet their relevant demands. Salesforce has already made significant investments in Mulesoft and Customer 360, and more investments are on the anvil.
7. Scaling up of AI using Einstein Analytics
Artificial Intelligence promises many exciting possibilities. But success requires understanding the user context, and groundwork to infuse the underlying algorithms with the right knowledge.
Salesforce leverages Artificial Intelligence capabilities through Einstein. Einstein aims to infuse AI in everyday business transactions. In 2019, Salesforce presented voice-activated assistant capabilities for Einstein. Various clouds such as Commerce Cloud, Financial Services Cloud, and Service Cloud got Einstein capabilities.
The AI-based recommendations and actionable insights based on user needs is used to improve the effectiveness of the Financial Cloud. Einstein powers up customer service workflows with Artificial Intelligence in the Service Cloud. Einstein Visual Search capabilities enhance the commerce Cloud with image search capabilities. Customers can now take pictures and search for products. Salesforce will introduce Einstein to other Cloud service offerings in 2020.
8. Scaling up Voice Capabilities
Dreamforce 2019 gave a loud message of Salesforce’s interest in enhancing its voice capabilities.
Natural speech recognition presents many challenges that the Salesforce’s AI team is working hard to master. Of immediate concern in today’s diversity and multicultural workplace is standard training datasets for speech recognition not co-opting many accents. Generating sentiment analysis from the speech is another challenge.
Salesforce has already showed how it intends to give a voice to all its app and service. But the focus of AI at Salesforce goes much beyond such basics. Salesforce approaches AI in two states: “electricity” state and the “sci-fi” state. Like electricity, artificial intelligence capabilities already power everyday technologies and services. The sci-fi state of AI includes possibilities such as natural conversations between people and AI, fully-autonomous vehicles, or the complex life-saving acts of a doctor. Richard Socher, Chief Scientist at Salesforce and his team work on such a duality approach. They strive to hone and refine AI capabilities for immediate applications, while side-by-side publishing research and patenting technologies to turn “sci-fi AI” into “electricity AI”.
Socher predicts that the biggest impact of AI and voice recognition in the next year or two will be in the service industry. He predicts a thrust on automating service and enabling off-hour service.
Salesforce is working to position voice as the great equalizer. Voice could ease daily interactions with technology for older or tech-challenged people. Einstein allows administrators and developers to build voice-powered apps with clicks instead of codes.
9. Bonobo AI will actualize the Conversational Intelligence Revolution
Bonobo AI is an Artificial Intelligence-based communication tool. It analyses conversational data streams and converts them into actionable insights.
Salesforce’s acquisition of Bonobo AI is a significant step towards its “Conversational Intelligence revolution.”
Analysis of conversational data was a big dark spot when trying to understand customer sentiments. Hitherto, understanding the customer was limited to the written word. Conversational analysis allows companies to know their customers better.
Analysis of conversations gives an entirely new spin to the levels of customer satisfaction. Executives work on such data to increase customer loyalty and deliver a truly personalised customer experience. The insights drive greater conversion, enable upsell, and improve retention.
Bonobo AI infuses conversational intelligence into the Salesforce platform.
10. Enhanced Cloud Capabilities through Griddable
The cloud has become all-pervasive. The benefits of scalability, anytime availability, low costs, and flexibility prompt enterprises to shift their digital assets to the cloud. Yet, 80% of enterprise operations are not in the cloud.
Cloud technology is evolving, with new possibilities emerging by the day.
As more companies shift to the cloud, the demand for Salesforce’s cloud-based CRM products will rise significantly. Salesforce plans to take the lead by offering solutions to make the shift go smoothly.
Salesforce’s acquisition of Griddable in January 2019 unlocks a world of such possibilities in the cloud.
Griddable enables Salesforce to synchronize enterprise data in the cloud. It offers a self-service platform to synchronize on-premises data into the public cloud and refactor data to fit into cloud architecture. The policy engine controls data definition and transforms data, facilitating the movement of any data from any database platform on any cloud. Templates make deploying data across a variety of topologies easy.
11. Focus on Diversifications
Survival in a highly competitive business environment requires innovation, imagination, and efficiency. Success depends on the ability to generate awareness and additional revenue from genuinely useful and convenient offerings.
In 2020, retailers will strike innovative partnerships with businesses and brands outside of the industry to facilitate such a state.
Cases in point are Pets at Home UK generating incremental sales through providing grooming and veterinary services for pet, Marks & Spencer rolling out “urban farming” which caters to the convenience of the modern shopper.
The best innovation synchronizes with customer preferences. As a case in point, an increasing number of people value their role in preserving the environment, raising prospects for sustainable retailing. Salesforce’s enhanced analytic capabilities enable such intelligence and trend-oriented diversifications.
12. Making use of CRM for specific verticals
Salesforce introduced new consumer clouds for specific industry verticals such as blockchain, manufacturing, and retail. The Consumer Goods Cloud caters to retail and the Manufacturing Cloud caters to manufacturing industries.
In 2020, Salesforce will expand its CRM solutions to more specific industry verticals. The common industrial sectors which use Salesforce include retail, financial services, life sciences, communications, media, public sector and automotive. It is safer to assume verticals for these niches soon.
Industry-specific verticalization solves the need for people-centric functions such as contact management, marketing, and communications to incorporate task-oriented functions.
13. Breakthrough in emerging technologies
Apart from Artificial Intelligence, Salesforce is working hard to co-opt other emerging technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and the Internet of Things (IoT), to transform the way of doing businesses soon. Expect significant breakthrough in this space in 2020.
Salesforce has already invested in IoT in a big way. Salesforce’s IoT Insights enhances Field Service Lightning, facilitating better predictive maintenance and proactive service. Going forward, Salesforce will expand its IoT capabilities to other products. Key areas of focus will be tracking customer sentiment analysis and identifying new “post-purchase” services
14. Focus on Experience and Storytelling
Customers no longer take for granted the “retail hygiene” built around value and convenience. Delivering experiences will become the key differentiator in 2020. Gen Zers seek out stores that offer unique experiences. Providing a good product inventory and smooth checkout lines is not enough to attract them. 51% of them have attended a pop-up store, while 42% have taken part in an experience-driven social event or demo inside a store.
The focus on delivering personalized experiences will increase storytelling. An experience without a cohesive story or narrative appears as a hodgepodge of disconnected pieces.
A good example is Airbnb’s new video, which has nothing to do with bookings, but focus on the joys of travelling. Airbnb understood the aspirations and hopes of its target consumers and connected with them. People dream about travelling, and accommodation is a secondary consideration. Likewise, brands are trying to understand the core reason customers look at their product and are working on establishing a connect through great storytelling. And Salesforce is ready to help them uncover the stories.
To sum it all up
In 2020, enterprises face multiple challenges when trying to grab the customer’s mindshare through storytelling. They will have to become more customer-centric than before. They will need intimate knowledge of their customers going much beyond the product. They have to apply creativity atop such information, to make sure their stories are relevant and resonant. They need to ensure the experiences captured in the storytelling remain fresh, relevant, and connected with the brand in a cohesive narrative.
Salesforce allows brands to understand the customer well and deliver contextual stories. Salesforce platforms enable businesses to create an authentic sense of community, to differentiate themselves and build deeper relationships with their customers. The highly powerful analytic tools, enhanced with Artificial Intelligence, will allow Salesforce customers to leverage data to offer experiences, and curate engaging stories out of such experiences.
At Salesforce, the only constant is change. The company’s readiness to launch new products keeps it relevant and sustains its popularity.
Nate Skinner, VP, Product Marketing, Salesforce Pardot unveils the direction of the future when he says:
“Marketers should evaluate campaign performance across growing and evolving digital channels, and analysing what channels are providing the best marketing ROI across first-touch, last-touch, and multi-touch attribution. Intelligence and analytics are at the crux of evaluating engagement on digital channels of yesterday, today, and the future.”