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Could it be magic? The Genie is out of the bottle to tackle a long-running data problem for business

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan September 20, 2022
Too much data, spread over too many places within the organization - a long-standing problem for business. But the magic is about to kick-in, argues Salesforce Chief Product Officer David Schmaier.


Turning data into customer magic! That’s the somewhat colorful pitch for Genie, an expended real-time Customer Data Platform (CDP) announced today at Dreamforce in San Francisco.

It’s the latest response to the long-standing and increasingly urgent challenge of customers expecting their every interaction with an organization to be personalized. But given that organizations have data siloed and duplicated across the business and the amount of that data created and captured (and replicated) each year is set to double by 2026, meeting that expectation isn’t easy.

Now, this isn’t a new problem by any manner of means. It’s one that’s plagued most organizations for years. So what’s Genie got in the bottle that other attempts to tackle this issue haven’t had?

As per the official announcement blurb from Salesforce, key features include:

  • Genie’s ability to ingest and store real-time data streams “at massive scale” and combine it with Salesforce transactional data.
  • Built-in connectors to pull in data across multiple channels, legacy data through MuleSoft, and historical data from proprietary data lakes.
  • Transformation and harmonization of data into a real-time customer graph AKA a unified customer profile record, with everything in that customer graph visible and actionable across the entire Customer 360, Salesforce Industry Clouds, AppExchange, and custom apps.
  • Einstein AI and Flow automation services harnessing real-time data to enable more dynamic and responsive actions and engagement, with Flow automation able use real-time data to trigger actions automatically.
  • Genie runs on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s public cloud infrastructure which provides data residency, security, privacy, and localized regulatory compliance controls in key geographies.
  • There’s a new AppExchange Genie Collection featuring apps from 18 Genie partners with apps and information.


Expanding on today’s announcement, David Schmaier, Salesforce’s Chief Product Officer, says he regards it as a breakthrough after over 30 years in the CRM industry, calling it “the most significant change to the Salesforce platform in the company’s history”. He says: 

Genie is the world's first real-time CRM. Genie is a high-speed hyperscaler data lake infrastructure that powers all of Salesforce applications. Genie makes all of the Salesforce applications and the Salesforce platform better.  Now, automations with our Flow automation technology are real-time automations. Now, Einstein AI can fire in real-time. And now, Genie is the data platform that powers the entire Customer 360.

Sellers can engage with their customers in real-time. When someone comes to your website, they want information about your products, they want to order products that are available now. You need that information available in real-time. Marketers are looking at the clickstream of every one of their customers and they don't only want to look at what you did two days ago; they want to look at what you did two milliseconds ago, because milliseconds matter in the new digital world that we live in.

Service professionals need to solve problems in real time. If you don't solve them in real time, you risk losing your most important assets that you have - your customers - and so customer service has become a real time sport.

Genie is an expansion of Salesforce’s earlier work on a CDP offering. Schmaier explains:

We started a couple years ago in the CDP marketplace, and it's our fastest growing organically-built product ever in the history of Salesforce. We have over 500 CDP customers today and that started this focus on this data layer. But that was primarily affecting the marketing department. CDPs have been primarily focused for that group of end users - the CMO, the marketing team.

What we're doing with Genie is we're powering the entire Customer 360. We've linked the data lake and the lake house architecture to Sales Cloud, to Service cloud so service professionals can get this data in real-time, to Commerce Cloud, to Tableau, to Mulesoft, to our 12 industry clouds. So really it's become the new data infrastructure of the Salesforce platform.

The industry cloud angle is an important development, he adds:

We've extended this to our 12 purpose-built industry applications. These industry clouds are the fastest path to digital transformation. So now it's not the Customer 360 - it's the Patient 360 for the healthcare industry, or the Member 360, or the Subscriber 360, or in the public sector and government realm, it's the Citizen 360. Only Salesforce provides these purpose-built applications that are enabled now and data-powered with Genie.


As for how this works out in practice for the end user, Schmaier cites the example of engaging with customer-facing systems within organizations to get a problem dealt with or to set up a new account:

[The process] is just not as good as it should be and the reason is because there's the fragmentation of all this data. So they ask you for your name, address and serial number over and over and over again. I can hear the exasperation in our customers customers voices, where they say, ‘Don't you already have this information? Haven't I given this to you ten times, 100 times - or 978 times, which is the average number of systems people have?’. All this information can be streamed in in real time, so that you truly have a single view of the customer.

I've been working in what we call the CRM software industry since the early 90s. It started with routing leads, and then it went to contact centers and then it went to marketing automation. But we all live in a real-time world and what people really want to do is solve the customer problem based on that data, and they want to do it right now, instantaneously, the fastest way possible. You don't in your normal life see these great customer experiences. We're calling them magical customer experiences because they do appear truly magical when they happen. You never forget it. That's what our customers want to do. They want to deliver magical customer experiences.

My take

Genie is the platform that allows organizations to deliver magical customer experiences. They're actually not magical - we use science to deliver this magic.

Hopefully customers don’t really need that disclaimer. What they do need is a solution to a problem that’s blighted too many of them for too long.

In practical terms, Schmaier came up with another example of why this matters, one that resonates with me, as he and I both use our middle names as our first name. So, he suggests, he might be Robert David Schmaier at his previous company and David Schmaier at his present company. He might log in using a personal email or a work email. He might have different mobile numbers he can choose from:

These are all different points of light. What they teach you in the first day of graduate school and marketing class, the professor asks you over and over again, ‘Who's the customer?’. In order to personalize and to customize and to tailor and do really magical things, you need to know who the customer is. But if you have all these different points of light, you really can't solve that problem. This is really a what I would call Holy Grail of CRM. People have been working on this for 30 years and now we've really finally solved it!

There's iterally one golden record about who David is. Once we know who the customer is, that's when Einstein and Flow can kick in and you can do predictions and then you can use automation to really make it an amazing customer experience that people will never forget. So that technology of bringing in the data in real-time, matching it, cleansing it and then uniting it and harmonizing it. That's the magic behind Genie.

So, the Genie is out of the bottle. Time will tell whether it can live up to the bold claims being made for it.

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