Dreamforce NYC Was Un-CRM-Like and That’s Okay

Salesforce Tower in New York City

Salesforce held its Dreamforce NYC on schedule in early December, which you might have missed because of other news like Omicron and the looming chaos of the holidays.

But there it was — trying to get back to some kind of normal, even if by absorbing efforts at mitigating the pandemic into its product line. What is so interesting was how un-CRM-like it was. This was intentional, but why?

The big announcements that the company sported in its website roundup include:

Dreampass and a Health and Safety Playbook. These are designed to enable any company to have a safe conference using Salesforce best practices and some technology to verify attendees’ health.

Dreampass Console

Dreampass Console (Credit: Salesforce)

Salesforce found a trust gap between consumers and the health industry. But really? A survey of 12,000 consumers in 13 countries showed that ordinary people don’t implicitly trust various parts of the health industry, but you can hardly tell from the numbers. Fully 90 percent of respondents completely trust their providers (the top score), while bringing up the bottom 53 percent distrust pharmaceutical companies. That means 47 percent do trust them, at least to some extent.

I know plenty of politicians who would be enraptured with only a 53 percent negative rating. To me, this looks like consumers doing their jobs and being skeptical where it matters. Technology won’t help this, but policy will.

Graph: Salesforce Consumer Trust Gap in Health Industry

(Credit: Salesforce)

The company announced a new chief medical officer who spoke about Covid-19 prevention. Every company should have a chief medical officer. Okay, seriously, the position is important to a company like Salesforce that makes a big deal of trying to penetrate the health industry. That’s a long way from CRM but maybe adjacent to platform. There is a pattern here.

A $3 million investment to support climate resilience. The company has some sustainability applications and is trying to help businesses measure their carbon footprints. As important as this is, resilience is a ship that sailed already. We need approaches that begin to un-smoke the cigarette. It’s challenging but not impossible. I wish they’d put some thought into it.

A partnership with Crowley and PwC to collaborate on emissions tabulation using Net Zero Cloud. See above.

Salesforce and Ford announced Ford’s use of the Salesforce Field Service platform. Here we go, a bona fide CRM topic and a major corporation using the product. Well done, but this is number six on their list.

A partnership with Vox Media to stream “Pivot” on Salesforce+, its new streaming service. The video is from the podcast with Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway. Streaming services need content, and Swisher and Galloway are hot, so this makes sense. I expect that this bait will cause people to explore the other content on Salesforce+. I also expect that the streaming service will be important in helping the company expand and broadcast its message.

A partnership between IBM and MuleSoft to help accelerate flexibility across public and private clouds. Who has more corporate clients than IBM? Okay, maybe Oracle and maybe SAP and, oops, almost forgot, Salesforce. But the number is huge, and the next ten years will likely be about integrating all of them so that, regardless of whose platform you are on, you can get information from one end of the enterprise to another without having to put it in a bucket and hand carrying it. So, yes, this is important too.

My Two Bits

Actually, it’s all important but why? It doesn’t reek of CRM when you think about it. But it points to the idea that maybe CRM is reaching an asymptote. That’s okay too.

Trees don’t grow to the moon, and once every pre-teen has a hula-hoop, there isn’t much whitespace left in the market. So, it seems to me that Salesforce planted a big flag, or really lots of flags, in the ground in one of the most important cities for finance, economics, and communications in the world. No better place to do this sort of thing.

Dreamforce NYC reads to me like a World’s Fair. Some, though hardly all, of what was on display or announced will be important in 10 years. Keep in mind we’re still waiting for those flying cars from previous World’s Fairs, but Salesforce will likely benefit handsomely simply because it is exploring so many avenues and making people think.

No, CRM isn’t going away because it and its approaches have been ingrained in our culture, and it is now essential — consider that the idea of “experience” got started with us. But the CRM market is getting crowded and white space may be elsewhere. Salesforce has always made its living in good old consumerist fashion by telling us what we wanted before we knew we wanted it.

The company has great resources and a platform that can churn out new technologies. Dreamforce NYC was the demo. Get ready.

Denis Pombriant

Denis Pombriant is a well-known CRM industry analyst, strategist, writer and speaker. His new book, You Can't Buy Customer Loyalty, But You Can Earn It, is now available on Amazon. His 2015 book, Solve for the Customer, is also available there. Email Denis.

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