Dreamforce Keynote: The Fourth Industrial Revolution

One of the key themes of Dreamforce 2017 was the ability of companies to customize the branding and content within Salesforce clouds via "clicks, not code."
One of the key themes of Dreamforce 2017 was the ability of companies to customize the branding and content within Salesforce clouds via “clicks, not code.”

The theme of this year’s Dreamforce was The Fourth Industrial Revolution.  Following after revolutions driven by steam, electricity, and information technology, the fourth industrial revolution blurs the “physical and digital worlds” creating a wave of “innovation in technology” which is transforming the economy, society, and lives while creating new jobs, industries, and opportunities.  This next wave is based upon intelligence.  Elements include IoT, 3D printing, biotech, robotics, autonomous vehicles, nanotechnology, and quantum computing.

“This is what we call the fourth industrial revolution,” said Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. “There’s all these amazing new technologies, things like autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence and nanotechnology and mobile computing and all these things are really hitting at once. And companies are really transforming themselves and bringing all these new technologies in really to connect with their customers in new ways.”

Thus, elevators loaded with sensors now communicate back to the manufacturer and predict failures, calling for service prior to trapping people.  Likewise, with tires, “if the tire blows, nobody knows; but in the future, if the [smart] tire blows, everybody knows.”  So, firms like Kone (elevators) and Michelin (tires) are now B2B2C companies.  In the future, if a tire is about to blow, it will communicate to the autonomous vehicle to pull over.

“Every company is getting closer to their customers.  We’ve been talking about this for years.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a B2B company or a B2C company, everybody’s becoming a B2B2C company.”

Salesforce and its customers are “delivering personalized one-to-one engagement at scale,” said Stephanie Buscemi, EVP of Product Marketing.  This is done “declaratively, with clicks and not code.”  Through the Salesforce Data Management Platform, ads are customized and delivered cross-device, allowing companies to redisplay ads or present new advertisements to their customers and prospects.

Benioff cited a series of companies providing customer service and support through Salesforce platforms including Louis Vuitton, Marriot, Coca-Cola, T-Mobile, Adidas, and Ducati Motorcycles.

“Behind all these things…behind everything is a customer.  And that’s what all of us do.  We are working to connect with our customers in an incredible new way.”

Simplified customization, development, and branding were emphasized during the keynote.  A set of customizable products provide a “smarter, more personalized Salesforce”:

  • MyTrailhead service supports custom branding, content, and learning paths that allows firms to onboard and train employees on desktops and phones.  Tools include quizzes, reference links, trails, and badges.  Salesforce Trailhead content is also available.
  • MyEinstein provides an artificial intelligence layer driven declaratively by “clicks, not code” supporting “smarter capabilities including bots.”
  • MyLightning customization provides an app builder with custom pages, a Lightning theming and design system, Lightning Flow, Components, and Bolts which operate automatically on both desktops and phones.  Designers will have access to dynamic components which are conditionally displayed.
  • MySalesforce branded “mobile apps without code” can be uploaded to the Google Play and App Store.
  • MyIoT supports native integration capturing real-time events, business rule automation, and low-code orchestration.

Based upon customer feedback, SFDC has shifted from IoT as a separate platform to an integrated feature of the CRM platform which also operates “declaratively without code.”

Benioff admitted that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is creating concerns and wondered whether it is “uniting us or dividing us.  Are we more connected or somehow less connected?”

He also asked whether there is more or less equality in the World.

“There is this stress being created by this fourth industrial revolution.  Yes, we have this promise of this new connected World.  But what is it doing to us? And what are other actors doing around the World using these technologies?  Are they changing our society?  Are they changing our elections?  What are they doing with this technology?”

Benioff is looking at the Trailblazers attending Dreamforce as the Customer Innovators, Technology Disruptors, and Global Shapers to ensure that the next wave is directed in a positive direction.  “You have all these new tools at your fingertips, these incredible new technologies, but you are doing some amazing things in the World.  You are changing your companies.  You are steering this technology in the right direction.  I’m so confident in who you are.  I’m so confident in what’s in your hearts and where we are all going.”

Benioff noted that most technology is generally neutral in it effect upon society.  It is therefore incumbent upon technologists, developers, and companies to deploy technology in a socially responsible manner which promotes greater equality.  Benioff called for companies to fight for equality through equal pay, investing in schools, and opposing discriminatory laws.  He also noted that it is the poor who are most hurt by environmental degradation and proudly stated, “we are a net zero cloud.”

IDC CRM Market Share (Courtesy: Salesforce 2017)
IDC CRM Market Share (Courtesy: Salesforce 2017)

Benioff was also proud to have founded and led the leading CRM with an 18.1% market share (2016 IDC) nearly double that of Oracle (9.4%).  Salesforce has the top solutions for sales (34.2%), service (33.7%), marketing (9.9%), and Platform-as-a-Service.  Within the marketing cloud, Salesforce claims to offer the leading Data Management Platform and commerce Platform.

What’s more, the firm is on track to be the fastest enterprise software company to hit $12.5 billion in revenue.  They hit $10 billion this year and have FY19 guidance of $12.5 billion in year 20.

One of the issues facing businesses and policymakers is an increasing skills gap.  Benioff proposed MyTrailhead as one of the tools to help address the problem of workers across many industries and skill levels.  MyTrailhead provides a customized, branded training platform.

TechCrunch complained that this year’s Dreamforce lacked drama as it lacked new initiatives such as the social enterprise, artificial intelligence, and IoT.  “They are a company that embraces the cutting edge, but this year lacked that kind of big announcement,” complained enterprise reporter Ron Miller.  To be fair, though, the company has rolled out a series of new platforms, clouds, and acquisitions over the past few years.  A year with few fireworks is not necessarily a year without forward progress for Lightning, Quip, Einstein, Trailhead, and platform customization.

The conference remains a monster with 170,000 registered participants joining in San Francisco and millions of online views.


This was the beginning of my weekly newsletter coverage on Dreamforce.  Please contact me if you’d like a free trial subscription.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s