Another Dreamforce is over for 2017. Overall this year was a more successful event than 2016 from my perspective. Salesforce was less about big product announcements and more about improving existing capabilities and increasing the ease of customer deployment, training and engagement through the democratisation of Salesforce.
Winners within Salesforce
Overall Salesforce came out of the event with definite and measurable progress across a range of metrics. The entire event reflects the culture of Salesforce and the genuine focus on diversity and inclusion. There were more Female, African American presenters on stage than I have ever seen. In all likelihood, there were more on stage presenting and facilitating this year than I have seen in such a forum across my entire career. It reflects positively on Salesforce and that inclusion is real and merit focused.
Product wise, there were several winners within Salesforce. The overall theme of the event was personalisation and democratisation of Salesforce. That was made clear. It is more than just putting “My” in front of every offering. Trailhead has accelerated in both functionality and importance.
Overall the most prominent growth has been with Einstein the AI tool for Salesforce. I had a degree of cynicism on the reality of Einstein prior to the event. When it was launched at Dreamforce in 2016, I took the view that it would, like Analytics and IOT announcements in events prior, be all talk and a long way from maturity. Both those offerings had struggled to find their footing and functionality.
The opposite has happened. It has progressed quickly, and from a use case perspective, is clearly dragging IOT and Analytics along with it. The customer service and support functionality for clients comes to the fore with the combination of Einstein and IOT and an alignment with Service Cloud. Thi highlights what Salesforce has to do to become a $20B company. Instead of selling products, it needs to sell integrated solutions that are implemented easily by partners. Einstein can drive this.
From an external vendor point of view, IBM was the winner. The connection of Einstein to Watson has been smart for both parties. The acquisition of Bluewolf has provided strong momentum for Salesforce within IBM. Prior to the acquisition, IBM was out in the cold in terms of Salesforce with no relationship at all. Now the relationship is positive from a functional and revenue perspective from the respective CEO’s mutual warmth, down through the depths of each organisation. It is the most rapid and successful new partnership offering that I have experienced from IBM in the 17 years that I have been an analyst. It proves IBM can change and evolve.
Wipro Is another partner and integrator with a significantly improved salesforce functionality and positioning over the past 12 months, again driven by acquisition. The acquisition of Appirio is a year old. In this time Wipro has leapt from no depth of capability in the Salesforce ecosystem to being a clear and differentiated top 5 Salesforce integrator.
Wipro has been sensible and learnt from IBM and Accenture with their acquisitions. Like IBM it has kept the brand, albeit, capioIT believes that it will be folded in to Wipro in the next 12-24 months.
It has realised what it can achieve with acquisitions. It also provides a gap between it and the rest of the Indian providers. TCS in particular was notable for the lack of presence at Dreamforce. If TCS, as the self-appointed leader of the Indian Services firms, is serious about the next generation of services it has to be front and centre with the like of Salesforce, ServiceNow and of course AWS and Google. Right now it isn’t.
With the App Exchange and Salesforce Ventures, Salesforce has created several ISV partners that have grown progressively over the past several years. The likes of Apptus, Financial Force and Mapanything have gone from strength to strength. Now vendors such as Conga and Vlocity (Backed by Accenture and Salesforce) have also increased their presence and functionality in the Salesforce ecosystem.
Finally the tie up between Google Cloud and Salesforce is of note. I am generally lukewarm about such partnerships. Microsoft and Salesforce were all happy families two years ago, only for Microsoft to turn straight on at Salesforce revitalising Dynanics in the meantime. It gives access to Google Cloud locations. It will help both firms in their goal to be genuinely global. Equally importantly, it gives Salesforce access to Google Docs customers. The impact on Google CRM favourite Prosperworks will be challenging for it to work through. Overall it is smart for both players, but as mentioned, with any partnership the proof is in the execution.
Another Dreamforce is behind us. Salesforce showed greater maturity this year than in the past from a product maturity perspective. It is walking its own talk. This augers well for the future. The ISV and Integrator ecosystem is prospering and investment is increasing in particularly outside of the US. This all needs to accelerate for Salesforce to double revenue and become a fully integrated customer experience, knowledge and outcome focused vendor.
If you require further information, please contact Phil Hassey, CEO of capioIT. capioIT is an advisory firm focused on helping organisations to understand emerging technology as the world becomes Digital. Phil may be contacted easily in the digital and real world.