Living the dream: a week of Salesforce insights

by Chris Horn

Attracting an impressive crowd of over 170,000 attendees, Dreamforce - the world's biggest software conference - never fails to impress. When it comes to slick marketing and the ability to throw a good party, Salesforce is the best in the business. For the better part of a week, Salesforce and the broader Salesforce economy take over San Francisco for a multitude of sessions dedicated to learning, networking, product updates, business development and more. Blackdot sent a team of five for the third consecutive year to capture the latest thinking in marketing, sales and service insights, as well as the latest tech updates from Salesforce and its partner community. 

This year Salesforce have heralded artificial intelligence as the fourth industrial revolution, with discussions about AI permeating throughout the event and product updates. Customisation of the platform was also omni-present, with ‘mySalesforce’ experiences being rolled out across key cloud products to enable further personalisation of the platform. ‘Trailblazers’, or customers who are forging ahead to enhance customer experiences with new technologies – were the stars of the event – with a number of innovative case studies shared.

Here are 10 key highlights from the week, including big themes and game-changing product updates that were announced. 

1. Lightning developments

Major steps have been taken to make Lightning more compelling and give customers the confidence to make the switch from Classic once and for all - there have been over 700 Lightning features added in the past year.
 
Salesforce also announced a volume of Lightning enhancements across clouds, with a big focus on enabling the frontline employee experience through enhanced interfaces and workflows, as well as the ability to personalise to your organisation’s custom branding and colour palette from Spring 2018. 

2. Salesforce announces partnership with Google

A significant partnership between Salesforce and Google was announced - the first time Google has partnered with a CRM. The partnership enables Lightning for Gmail, Salesforce Inbox for Gmail, and Salesforce for Hangouts. But perhaps the most exciting feature is the integration with Google Analytics, where one immediate benefit will be the ability to pull GA website data and report this centrally with other data within the Salesforce platform.  

3. myTrailhead

Building on the existing Salesforce Trailhead training hub, myTrailhead enables rich content authoring, tagging and deployment of content and learning modules, gamification, badges and assessments. You can set up ‘Trail Mixes’ - combinations of Salesforce training and your own custom training. This should be great for induction and ongoing development for customer-facing roles which require skills across Salesforce platforms. Details around pricing, launch date and whether integration with LMS tools will be available is still emerging, but a customer pilot is currently being launched. It will be interesting to see how the dynamics will emerge with learning and LMS partners in the Salesforce community, such as Cornerstone, Mindtickle and Walkme.  

4. Einstein updates

There is a big push on Einstein functionality across all clouds. Einstein is now also available in customer built apps. It can draw off free text and allows you to build predictions off standard or custom objects, then build workflows off the predictions – ideal for driving next best interactions for sales and service staff. Cleverly, Einstein’s functionality is good at showing the 'why' - demonstrating predictive factors to help give users confidence around suggestions.  

5. Sales Cloud developments 

Wave for Sales Cloud has been rebranded to Salesforce Analytics – with a number of new features both within this tool and with how it is interwoven with Einstein functionality.
 
Some of the new functionality that got us excited was: 

  • Einstein analysis of configure-price-quote variables – for example playing back how different approval times impact the success of a deal

  • Einstein Forecasting – thanks to the acquisition of Implicit by Salesforce, machine learning can identify key business drivers and automatically generate sales forecasts which can be viewed at the rep, team or business level and across variables such as geography

  • Embedded dashboards and the ability to subscribe people to dashboards – will be good for keeping leaders across key metrics

Updates to console view via myLightning, enabling clear custom workflows, the ability to log calls and voicemail easily, creation of call lists from reports, as well as macro functionality for repetitive entries - all great tools for saving reps time. 

​6. Marketing Cloud data capabilities

Krux has been rebranded as 'Salesforce Data Management Platform' and the integration with Marketing Cloud is being improved, aiming to combine your data across channels to deliver more relevance and reduce irrelevant ads. This enables interesting capabilities driven by Einstein such as intelligent segmentation, whereby Einstein can draw on your data to find high value segments and correlations that you may not have thought of. It can also identify sequences of digital customer interaction that are working particularly well which will prove useful in optimising buyer journeys. 

7. Service Cloud new AI features

Service Cloud has made big steps towards automating service interactions with customers and empowering agents. Einstein Bots is powerful new AI functionality which can intelligently carry out live chat with customers, as well as prioritise and hand off cases to service agents.  

8. Pardot + account based marketing 

Account based marketing is currently a major theme for marketers and throughout Dreamforce it was great to see Pardot evolving to enable this more. Reports that enable understanding of marketing impact within key accounts, as well as useful cuts such as pipeline value by account will be popular new features with B2B marketers. The addition of Advertising Studio has also brought in some functionality that was previously only available in Marketing Cloud, such as lookalike audiences and improved social integration. Chatter is now also in Pardot. B2B Marketing Analytics is a rebrand of Wave, with three attribution models out of the box – first, even and last touch models – which will be well received by Pardot users. 

9. New functionality for Salesforce Engage

New integration with Outlook was announced - which will greatly assist this product in adding more value to more users. Ability to easily enter data into Salesforce and view customer activity within Outlook, log emails for capture in Sales Cloud, and send emails ‘on behalf of’ colleagues will be very useful for reps.

10. Launch of Success Cloud

Salesforce have always been pioneers in customer success, however the launch of Success Cloud appears to signal they are taking this to the next level. Drawing on key characteristics and implementation efforts of their most successful customers over the years, Success Cloud aims to support more customers in becoming trailblazers, more quickly. These learnings have been packaged into an approach called ‘Compass’, which aims to bring together Salesforce best practices, enable access to expert Salesforce staff, as well as guide customers in leveraging their data – effectively a blueprint for achieving customer success and accelerating outcomes from the platform.
 
Overall, it was a fantastic week for ideas exchange and we look forward to sharing these insights with our customers in more detail over coming weeks and months.