Looking back at Dreamforce 2017 - keeping it real

Profile picture for user gmee By Gavin Mee November 26, 2017
Gavin Mee, Senior Vice President, Enterprise Sales and Head of UK at Salesforce, looks back at his personal highlights from Dreamforce.

More than 170,000 attendees from 91 countries. Insights on today’s most critical issues from the likes of Michelle Obama, Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman. Live performances from Alicia Keys and Lenny Kravitz. $16 million raised for charity.

From this angle, it’s easy to get swept away in the glamour of Dreamforce, but as we close the curtains on another year, what was Dreamforce ‘17 really about, and why should it matter to businesses?

Empowering customers for change

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is affecting all of us. Thanks to the wave of innovation we’re living through, we’re all much more savvy consumers. Artificial intelligence, robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT) are just some of the technologies spurring on digital transformation as businesses reinvent the customer experience in response to changing customer expectations.

In his Dreamforce keynote speech, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff spoke about how some organisations he meets feel worried by the changes brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. I often hear this from UK businesses too. They’re unsure of how to keep pace with their rapidly evolving customers.

At Dreamforce, we made several product announcements aimed at empowering these businesses. Many of our new features and platform services are designed specifically to help them thrive in this connected world.

The introduction of myEinstein, for example, enables admins and developers of all skill levels to build custom AI apps across Salesforce with clicks, not code. Ultimately, this makes business processes and workflow within a company more efficient and delivers more accurate customer insights.

Our new global strategic partnership with Google also aims to enable smarter, more connected experiences for everyone. By integrating Salesforce with Google Analytics 360, customers can deliver smarter engagement throughout the entire customer journey. At the same time, new G-Suite by Google Cloud integration will enable users to surface powerful customer intelligence from Salesforce directly within Google’s Productivity Platform.

Upskilling our workforce

One of my personal highlights from Dreamforce was the ‘fireside chat’ between Marc Benioff and Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM, where they discussed the impact of the tech revolution on the future of work. Both stressed the importance of education in helping current and future employees to thrive, with continuous learning being more critical than ever in keeping pace with rapid technology changes.

This is undoubtedly one of the most important issues at this year’s event. With technology now at the heart of everything, countless jobs are being redefined by new skills. Nurturing digital literacy is one of the most critical elements to success – both today and in the future.

Here in the UK, we’re already seeing more workplace apprenticeships and mentoring programmes offered by tech companies. Salesforce also provides free learning through Trailhead, an online programme that trains participants on Salesforce and other tech and business expertise. At Dreamforce we extended the platform and introduced myTrailhead, which enables companies to customise the learning environment with their own content and branding. Trailhead Profile is a particularly exciting feature, which provides an overview of an employee's expertise. It means that when employees want to switch roles, managers will have a complete view of their skillset to help them recruit internally.

Fueling UK growth and success

There’s no doubt that our new connected world is empowering growth. IDC recently released its 2017 study on the Salesforce Economy. It estimates that cloud computing, one of today’s key enabling technologies, now accounts for over US $97 billion of global spending, adding millions to the UK economy. The economic contribution of Salesforce and our ecosystem of partners and customers alone is also predicted to generate more than $65 billion of net new business revenues to UK GDP by 2022, as well as 329,160 direct and indirect British jobs in the same timeframe.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution represents an enormous opportunity for UK businesses to transform every industry, create jobs and contribute to the growth of our economy. As they ready themselves for what’s next, we hope that Dreamforce has set the wheels in motion for a truly transformative year ahead.