One of the most notable take-aways from Dreamforce had to do with Microsoft. But it’s not about a contentious relationship, it’s about a rather agreeable and widening, partnership.
You’ve may have heard the rumors about Microsoft attempting to negotiate an acquisition of Salesforce earlier this year. Although that didn’t materialize (reportedly, Salesforce wanted about 40% more than Microsoft was willing to pay – a cool $70B), discussions clearly led to a remarkable relationship that starts at the top.
Indeed Marc Benioff welcomed John Thompson, the Chairman of Microsoft on stage for a quick chat. What’s your dream going forward?” Benioff asked Thompson. Thompson expressed excitement for cloud computing and the explosion of data from the Internet of things (IoT).
That set the stage for one of the key topics of this year’s conference—IoT. Salesforce’s newly announced IoT Cloud connects billions of events from devices, sensors, and applications to Salesforce—which in turn enables companies to unlock insights from a “connected world.”
The IoT Cloud is powered by Salesforce Thunder, a massively scalable, real-time event processing engine that is designed to enable Salesforce customers to personalize the way they sell, service, market and more (Read about SalesforceIQ later in the article).
The IoT Cloud will supposedly bring much needed context to the billions of real-time events and digital content that occur all around us. I say “supposedly” not because I don’t believe it won’t happen but because at this point in time, it hasn’t happened. And it won’t happen any time soon for any but the largest of Salesforce customers and partners.
Meanwhile, Salesforce and Microsoft are delivering on their initial partnership announced last October, with the rollout of two new integrations: Salesforce App for Outlook, and Salesforce1 Mobile App for Microsoft Office. Indeed, Microsoft played a major role in Dreamforce announcements this year.
In a statement reinforcing the collaboration with Salesforce, CEO Satya Nadella, positioned Microsoft as a “platform and productivity company,” now aimed at bringing together the best of Microsoft Azure, Office and Windows with partners like Salesforce.
I’ve never thought of Salesforce as a productivity company. On the other-hand apps like OneNote, and Office 365 are productivity tools and they just so happen to be subjects of the other big news from the event. Dreamforce this year announced an integration of OneNote, Skype for Business and Office 365 into Salesforce along with the creation of a Windows 10 Salesforce app.
The OneNote-Salesforce integration will let users associate notes with Salesforce records, and view and edit notes directly in OneNote. Notes from OneNote can also be viewed and edited directly from Salesforce. This is great news for my ears as I frequently use OneNote to capture screenshots and notes during clients calls and dreamed of an easy way to associate them with my CRM records.
This comes on the heels of two recently available products: the Salesforce App for Outlook and the Salesforce1 Mobile App for Microsoft Office. But integration between Microsoft’s other offerings and Salesforce Lightning isn’t yet available. In fact, they aren’t expected until the second half of 2016 at the earliest.
Moving on to the third key element of focus at the event, SalesforceIQ. SalesforceIQ is the rebranding of RelateIQ (a company Salesforce acquired last year). SalesforceIQ is designed to capture inferential data from emails, meetings, and logged calls and then present intelligent suggestions and timely reminders for things like new meeting appointments and follow-up actions. I love the concept of using inferential data to eliminate time spent on searching for past activity for the purpose of formulating action plans and next steps. However, the solution has a long way to go before it can be wholly relied on.
These were some of the big announcements at Dreamforce. However, there were certainly a number of exciting announcements and innovation to be seen by the 500 or so exhibitors at the event. We’ll be publishing our annual Dreamforce wrap-up report next week where you’ll find in-depth details.
The last thing I’d like to mention is my appreciation for the sponsors of our first Smart Selling Tools Dream Lounge and all the sales and marketing practioners and speakers. Representatives from SAVO Group, Qstream, Velocify, Alinean, Aviso, and VorsightBP were in demand by prospects looking for smart ways to improve sales performance.
Also on hand, were two lucky winners of Apple Watches: Barry Posner of The Leadership Challenge and Paul Philleo of Events for Gaming, along with the lucky winner of our $1,000 cash prize, Philip Wang from Coalfire.
Dreamforce is one of those exhilarating events that I look forward to the minute the current one ends. It’s an exciting time for businesses looking to improve sales productivity for sure, but we’re still at the very beginning of the thrilling ride ahead.