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Dreamforce 2019 - Salesforce refines Customer 360, partners with AWS on open data

Phil Wainewright Profile picture for user pwainewright November 19, 2019
Salesforce builds out its customer data management capabilities and teams up with AWS and Genesys on an open spec for data exchange

Data security concept in blue with circuit board background © adrian_ilie825 -

At last year's Dreamforce, Salesforce launched Customer 360 to map and reconcile customer data across multiple clouds. This year sees the service relaunched as Customer 360 Truth, adding crucial capabilities such as authentication and privacy controls. The CRM giant has also teamed up with Amazon and Genesys to back an open-source data model for exchanging customer information.

In its initial guise — now generally available and free of charge to Salesforce customers — Customer 360 provides a single customer ID that unifies all of the data held across various systems, reconciling different usernames, email addresses, or purchase histories. Rather than creating a separate master data record or data warehouse, the Customer 360 ID links directly to data stored in applications.

The new capabilities of Customer 360 Truth build on that initial foundation to add authentication, profiling and governance so that businesses can manage consent and contact preferences. The complete system now comprises:

  • Customer 360 Data Manager — uses a canonical data model and a universal Salesforce ID to represent each customer, which admins can manage and update using a point-and-click interface.
  • Salesforce Identity for Customers — provides a single, two-factor authentication experience for customers when accessing all of a company's websites, e-commerce stores, mobile apps and connected products.
  • Customer 360 Audiences — builds unified customer profiles that can then be used to create customer segments and engagement journeys for action and analysis.
  • Salesforce Privacy and Data Governance — enables companies to collect and respect customer data use and privacy preferences, and apply data classification labels down to field level, to aid compliance with data privacy regulations such as GDPR in Europe and CCPA in California.

Privacy controls

The new functionality helps companies strike the right balance between delivering the joined-up experience consumers demand at the same time as complying with the privacy obligations they expect, says Patrick Stokes, Salesforce’s EVP of Platform Shared Services:

At the same time that consumers are looking for more connected and continuous experiences across all of these business functions, consumers are looking for more control over their data. Everything you do when you're connecting this data, you have to keep this in mind.

Incorporating authentication and privacy controls into the system will help enterprises comply with requirements such as GDPR's right to be forgotten, making it possible to automate deletions across multiple systems rather than manually updating records in each separate system. This will save customers having to implement external workarounds to comply with privacy regulations, says Stokes.

Our customers don't have a choice any more, they have to do this and we've seen lots of creative solutions. To us this is just the evolution of CRM, this is the next step. We need to make all these best-in-class systems connected and drive consumer privacy and experience on your behalf.

Customer Information Model

Because customer data often resides in third-party systems outside of Salesforce, the company has now joined forces with Amazon and Genesys to establish an open specification for exchanging data called the Customer Information Model (CIM). Administered by the Linux Foundation, CIM defines a highly granular ontology of business metadata in the realms of sales and customer service. This allows developers to shortcut the process of connecting data for analysis, machine learning or application integration.

By handing over control of CIM to the Linux Foundation, Salesforce hopes to encourage other vendors and customers to contribute to broadening the model, says Stokes.

CIM is not a complete enterprise data model yet but we've launched with a few subject areas and we want to make it as seamless and frictionless as possible for a vendor to come and contribute or adopt it.

Customer 360 is based on the CIM model and Salesforce's integration and API subsidiary MuleSoft now natively supports the model to enable discovery of CIM data types. Amazon customers can creat CIM-compatible schemas for their data lakes and data warehouses when using AWS Lake Formation and Amazon Redshift. Genesys customers can combine engagement data wtih CIM-compatible sources for deeper personalization.

My take

This new iteration of Customer 360 is much more rooted in the practical needs of customers today as they grapple with the twin requirements of data harmonization and data privacy. At the time of last year's launch, we noted how much work customers would have to do to clean up mismatches in their various data stores. Now they have more of an incentive to do so, with the ability to automate many of their data privacy obligations on the horizon.

It's also good to see Salesforce stepping forward to enable greater interoperability — although the tech industry's track record of establishing common business ontologies is not a good one, so let's hope CIM fares better. This is a direction that MuleSoft CTO Uri Sarid signaled in an interview with me last year:

Ontology data .. is something that you will see us starting to put more and more in the hands of the business people and the IT people and start talking about a common language.

I'll be catching up with Sarid later this week and look forward to getting an update on MuleSoft's take on this and other initiatives.

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