Nine observations and takeaways from Dreamforce #DF12


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Even those that travel regularly for business say there’s nothing quite like Dreamforce. Tens of thousands of people, up early, out late, learning and sharing and innovating in between. Here are several observations and takeaways I took from last week in San Francisco.

Going to Dreamforce is like attending a large state university claimed 90,000 registered attendees. I’m not sure it got quite that high, but there were at least 50-60,000 people in town for the event – as large if not larger than many state universities. Attending a school that big is all about finding your spots, and that was true for Dreamforce as well. Among the throngs and lines were some incredible 1:1 opportunities, serendipitous moments and small, targeted, like-minded groups to engage and learn from. You can’t wait for the value to come to you at an event like this. You have to be proactive, have a plan and get after it.

Innovation and ideation is moving much faster than execution
There was a palpable energy throughout the event, from innovative people thinking about breakthrough ideas and innovations. Of course, our ability to execute on those ideas is a little behind. But if nothing else, that’s a sign that there’s plenty of runway to continue driving growth and value, for the companies in the field currently as well as new start-ups that emerge in the coming months (and even years).

The social opportunity is bigger than ever
It’s not about tweet this or like that. The volume of buying signals across the social Web is increasing exponentially on a monthly basis, and our ability to organize and make sense of those signals is increasing. The better we can identify and take action on the right early-stage buying signals, and the sooner we can do as much of that as possible in an automated way, the faster companies will be able to build infinite early-stage buyer relationships without the traditional, high acquisition costs of media channels. This opportunity is here now, but it’s cumbersome and mostly manual to achieve. But as the technology improves, so will the gap widen between those who take advantage of this and those who ignore it.

Big data isn’t all that matters
Big data, it seems, has become a proxy for using all possible & available data to make decisions. But sometimes it’s not necessarily about having the most data, but the right data. You don’t necessarily need to capture everything if what you really need is a subset of that data. There was also talk at Dreamforce about the need for not just more data, but faster data. Speedy data, to make real-time decisions and customize experiences for customers and prospects alike, is a huge opportunity with lots of room for growth yet to come.

Marketing automation is still in its infancy
It was interesting enough that, in a three-plus hour keynote presentation, CEO Mark Benioff didn’t mention marketing automation once. As broad and visionary as his idea for a comprehensive business platform is, marketing automation seems to be missing. There were plenty of vendors present, of course, who continue to advance both the technology and strategies inherent in early-stage prospect and customer management. But it’s also clear that there’s a ton of innovation and execution opportunity ahead. Lead scoring, for example, still feels like a basic function ripe for some killer new features to make it exponentially more valuable.

You can learn a lot if you shut up and listen
So you attend a conference for 4-5 days with 60,000 real smart people. Perhaps the smartest thing you could do is stop talking and listen. Ask questions. Find out what other people know, what they’re interested in, what they’re working on. Sure, you’ve got an agenda and a message as well. But conferences like this are far richer when you’re more open to listening and learning.

Sales & marketing collaboration is the past; business collaboration is the future
I realize most organizations still aren’t satisfied with how their sales & marketing teams are working together. And to maximize revenue yield, that seamless collaboration is going to be table stakes moving forward. But it was also clear throughout the conference that mere sales & marketing collaboration isn’t going to be enough. The entire business, thanks to open, flexible platforms, now has the ability to work together on common ground. The collaboration opportunities not just between sales & marketing but also with finance, customer support, human resources and more opens up significant opportunity to accelerate customer value, lifetime relationship value and decreased costs.

Few people are actually doing most of this
It’s really easy to assume, at a show like this, that everyone’s doing it all. They have all the right software, the right mix of people, and they’re executing flawlessly. But if you talk to enough people, even those that are on the panels and highlighted as the leaders and innovators in their execution, you’ll find they too are struggling with this. And further, the vast majority of the market and your colleagues aren’t doing most of this yet. We have a long way to go, individually and collectively, but in the end it’s not worth worrying about what someone else is doing. Focus on your opportunity, your execution, your growth first.

This could be your company some day
This was the 10th annual Dreamforce conference, in’s 13th year in business. It’s incredible to think how quickly that all has happened. So couldn’t it be you next? What’s keeping your company from leading and entire industry? What’s keeping your user conference from becoming a must-attend industry event? What’s keeping your company from serving as a focal point, a gathering place, for innovation in your category? Thousands of companies had the same opportunity as The difference is that they saw it, went for it, and executed exceedingly well. But that could be you next.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.


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