What’s new at Dreamforce 2017? Upgrading existing services

Salesforce's general managers discuss the innovations in their areas being announced at this year's Dreamforce, and emphasize how they follow a common theme of allowing greater accessibility and customization capability.

Alex Dayon, Salesforce’s President and Chief Product Officer

SAN FRANCISCO – Last year at Salesforce’s massive Dreamforce customer event here, the big news was the introduction of Salesforce Einstein, a new AI capability for the company’s platforms. This year, there is no such head-turning equivalent. However, the company is announcing significant upgrades across its existing product lines.

“The theme of this Dreamforce is the fourth Industrial Revolution,” said Alex Dayon, Salesforce’s President and Chief Product Officer. While the first three revolutions revolved around steam, electricity and computing, this one is based around intelligence.

“The customers being showcased are all Trailblazers transforming their company in the fourth industrial revolution,” Dayon continued. “For the customer, the  issue with the Fourth Industrial Revolution is – how does it change the world for each and every company. So our core theme at Salesforce is to deliver platforms and solutions to transform those companies.”

At the product level, Dayon said Salesforce’s job is to enable its Trailblazer customers to innovate.

“Our job at Salesforce is to lower the barrier to entry, packaging those technologies for innovation,” he said. “Our strategy is to make sure each and every cloud is the leader in its category. Step Two is to make sure those clouds are connected, in order to provide the most complete CRM, both for B2B and B2C.”

Dayon described the core Salesforce platform as the secret sauce behind all this, in the way that it abstracts the customer from the complexities of the technology.

“A lot of news this year isn’t about our new clouds – it’s about the platform, which is the most important thing. Customers want us to lower the barrier to entry. So we are introducing services that give new capabilities to give more access to every Trailblazer.”

Trailhead is a free learning platform Salesforce first introduced in 2014, which plays a key role in the company’s strategy of democratizing its technology with a gamification experience and badges for rewards. Now they are launching myTrailhead, which allows companies to create and brand the technology for their own employees.

“We just hit a milestone of four million badges – up from 1.2 million just last year, showing that our growth trajectory with Trailhead is very high,” said Sarah Franklin, SVP of Developer Relations, Salesforce, and GM of Trailhead. “We have been using a private, customized version of Trailhead to scale up our employees. We have also seen from Gallup that 71 per cent of employees are disengaged at work. So we are announcing myTrailhead, which lets organizations create their own customized version with the own custom brand and custom content. This lets every company be able to teach employees skills needed for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and create a guided learning experience.” Employers will be able to track, rate and reward learning, and will also be able to generate a skills graph of all their employees.

“It empowers our customers to empower their own employees with these skills,” Franklin said.

“We also see Trailhead as the next stage of marketing,” Dayon indicated. “Trails are the best way to learn about the value proposition of a product. The barriers between usage and marketing are blurring.”

Einstein has also been democratized with myEinstein, to enable it to be more widely used.

“Einstein has come a long way in the last year,” said John Ball, GM of Salesforce Einstein. “It now drives  half a billion predictions every single day. Now with myEinstein, every Trailblazer can build AI-powered apps easily, with clicks and not code.”

The two new elements of Einstein here are Einstein Prediction Builder and Einstein Bots.

“With Einstein Prediction Builder, admins have the power to predict any field or object in Salesforce,” Ball said. “For example, you can figure out what customers are going to pay late and target them with a dedicated call campaign – just point click, and predict.”

The other new feature is Einstein Bots, which can be trained with historical service and CRM data to quickly and accurately respond to common customer inquiries. They can resolve routine issues, and seamlessly handoff more complex ones to customer service agents.

“This drives service efficiency and better customer experience,” Ball said. “Einstein Bots are built into the platform so that anything you can do in Salesforce, you can do with a bot.”

Ball said that they are continuing to invest in previously existing features Einstein Language and Einstein Vision.

Salesforce introduced Salesforce Lighting two years ago. It’s a multi-tenant, next-generation metadata platform that provides a consistent, modern user experience across any device and makes it easy for business users and developers to build apps. Now they have introduced myLightning, which allows for a much more customized customer experience.

“There has been no more complicated and no more audacious program in Salesforce than Lightning,” said Mike Rosenbaum, EVP of CRM Apps at Salesforce. “We took 17 years experience in CRM, and reinvented it for customers.”

myLightning allows a much higher degree of customization, with the ability to brand images, colors, page background images that align with an organization’s brand, with just a few clicks.

“It will enable customers to brand their applications to make them look and feel like their brand, and roll out a version of the platform tailored for them,” Rosenbaum said.

Rosenbaum also introduced mySalesforce, which addresses the 1.5 million people using salesforce on mobile devices by allowing the creation of customized mobile apps.

“They can create their own custom branded items on Google Play or the Apple App Store, and can customize, brand and publish them without writing a single line of code,” he said. “This also isn’t a standalone mobile app, but part of the platform. We think that will make it pretty revolutionary for customers.”

Bret Taylor, CEO of Quip, then announced Salesforce’s Quip Collaboration Platform, which lets teams  collaborate faster and more interactively in one live document.

“To date, Quip has been a collaboration product for documents and spreadsheets,” Taylor said. “It is now being transformed from product to a platform.”

The Quip Collaboration Platform features Live Apps – applications that can be embedded into Quip that contain real-time data. This includes interactive apps from other services, allowing the user to create a hub for any project in Quip. It also features out-of-the-box workflow templates to manage team tasks such as developing a product roadmap, preparing for a new product launch and mapping out sales territories. The platform comes out of the gate with 20 launch partners.