Dreamforce: A Bit of Reality in the Land of Make Believe

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Marc Benioff's Opening Keynote at Dreamforce 2014
Marc Benioff’s Opening Keynote at Dreamforce 2014
Well I have been proven wrong by Benioff and Company once again. Just when I thought Dreamforce had reached the pinnacle of outsized insanity in 2013, they have gone and topped it in 2014. The cult of personality has taken over this event like no other. First, they cram 140,000 people in an event center designed for 20,000. Then they dazzle attendees with quite a collection of celebs from Al Gore to Hillary Clinton to Ariana Huffington, to Will.i.am to Bruno Mars (who incidentally performed at the Super Bowl last year). The icing on the cake for me this year though was the stir caused by SalesLoft when they sent a Benioff impersonator to event. When a tech executive attracts more paparazzi than Kate Middleton and the royal family, it may be an early indicator that the geeks truly are taking over the world.

In spite of the razzle dazzle, Salesforce does pack a lot of meaningful information for the tech community to absorb. After reading through all of the post-conference content, we’ve put together a collection of the best articles by some of the brightest thought leaders discussing Dreamforce and its announcements. For those who couldn’t make it to Dreamforce but want the insider track, read on.

Dion HinchcliffeZDNet / Enterprise IrregularsDreamforce 2014: Converging on Cloud, Apps, Mobile Analytics, and Community

In this article, Dion explains that Salesforce has put together, “one of the best and most adroitly communicated visions for a ‘holy grail’ of seamless customer facing IT.” How have they done that? By seeking to tear down the silos that data, apps and the user experience reside within by opening them up to marketing, sales, operations and support teams. The big questions that remain though are: is Salesforce’s cloud up to the task and are customers ready for their converged platform?

Read Dion’s article to: Get a true deep dive into the many aspects of the announcements that came out of Dreamforce 2014 and their broader implications on the marketplace.

Alex ConradForbesDreamforce Recap: As Benioff Remained Master Showman, Wave And Lightning Look To Shine

Alex drills down into some key announcements from Dreamforce, such as the mobile-first analytics cloud, Wave, and the Salesforce1 mobile-oriented app and process builder, Lightning.

Alex’s commentary on Wave is especially enlightening, as he discusses in great depth why some are excited while others are skeptical. Some are enamored by Wave’s ease-of-use, which puts pressure on the industry to follow suit, while others cite that 60 percent of businesses don’t collect enough of the right data to effectively make use of a tool like Wave.

Read Alex’s article to: Receive an excellent 360-degree view of Dreamforce that strikes a balance between the greater context of the event, information on key product-focused announcements and a discussion of the real-world responses.

Matt WeinbergerComputerWorldSalesforce’s Big Opportunity is in Keeping it Simple

This piece from Matt places the announcements of Wave and Lightning primarily in the context of how they reflect on Salesforce and their competitors, as well as what the announcements mean for the end-users Salesforce is trying to win over.

He makes the uncommon but entirely factual claim that Salesforce is late to both of the markets its two new products target. Matt just as quickly rationalizes that fact by explaining that Salesforce’s fast-growing revenue and ever-expanding developer ecosystem put them in a strong position in the markets despite their late entrance. Fashionably late, one might say.

Matt further examines how the new offerings stack up for SMBs, and suggests that the initial pricing of the analytics cloud (Wave) may be too high. He closes out the article by stating the stakes for third-party vendors: they will now have to convince customers that your offering is better to use with Salesforce than Salesforce’s products themselves.

Read Matt’s article to: Understand how the announcements from Dreamforce play into the competitive vendor landscape.

David RaabCustomerThinkDreamforce 2014: Process Is More Important Than Analytics

David’s article provides an excellent counter-point to the others, as it is more of a critique of the announcements instead of validation for them. He argues that the analytics cloud, Wave, is far behind its competitors and only seems like a major announcement because it’s coming out of Salesforce and not a lesser-known company. David contends that Wave isn’t as scalable or flexible as some solutions already in the wild.

He goes on to argue that Lightning, the mobile app builder for Salesforce1, is the more important of the two announcements despite his claim that it’s the “sort of innovation only a geek would love.” Rather than stressing the importance of Lightning itself, David argues that it is crucial because it illustrates how broad the scope of Salesforce has become, and how central mobile devices have become to business processes.

Read David’s article to: See a more critical take on the Dreamforce 2014 announcements that analyzes Salesforce within its own ecosystem, as well as reviewing the larger context of what Salesforce’s announcements portend for the space as a whole.

Ben KepesForbesOn Salesforce’s Wave Platform and Why Semantic Debates About Analytics Are Irrelevant

Ben’s article works as a great counterpoint to David Raab’s in that it argues against the notion that the analytics cloud, Wave, is something worth dismissing due to its lateness to the market. He does, however, point out that the launch was atypical for Salesforce in that it announced a product that attempts to fulfill “a current need rather than a future one.”

Ben’s article goes on to display some partner quotes in an attempt to show how the new products do indeed fulfill their needs and offer more than the detractors’ claims of being merely “visualizations.” His article does, however, agree with one common theme among all the articles, which is that Wave’s pricing is unreasonably high.

Read Ben’s article to: Get a more positive take on how Salesforce’s analytics cloud platform, Wave, fits into the picture.

In spite of the spectacle of the event, Dreamforce continues to provide a fantastic platform for discussion about the state of the cloud vendor landscape, and 2014 was no different. Have any thoughts on the articles above, the conference itself or Salesforce’s announcements? Leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter at @Peterrchase.

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