Dreamforce: A People Conference Disguised as a Tech Conference

Dreamforce ‘18 is a wrap. My friends in the #SalesforceOhana have unpacked their Astro and Appy plushies, and are digging through piles of emails after what was an amazing week. Rather than do what Ben McCarthy, Gemma Emmett and David Liu have already done so well — take a broader look of Dreamforce ‘18 — I’m going to take a view tied to the Salesforce values of Trust, Customer Success, Innovation and Equality that centers on people.

After more than a decade of participating in Dreamforce, I’ve decided that it’s a People Conference disguised as a Tech Conference. Just as every Salesforce org is different, every Dreamforce experience is different, and I hope you’ll enjoy and learn from mine.

Equality, at Dreamforce and Beyond

Equality is an imperative at Salesforce, and Dreamforce provides its more than 170,000 participants a setting where ALL can help make equality a reality. The Equality-themed sessions at Dreamforce were a must-attend, with an inspiring keynote featuring Tracee Ellis Ross, Ellen McGirt, and Adam Rippon and sessions spotlighting learning and networking opportunities for all. My Equality take-away from Dreamforce — one-to-one allyship and work towards equality for all was the most powerful way to effect change. Case in point — more than 75 PepUp Tech students were at Dreamforce this year, and the one-to-one work within the Ohana in support of PepUp Tech students was outstanding, and just the beginning.

The equality wave at Dreamforce kicked off with “Karaoke for a Cause,” the PepUp Tech benefit with a standing-room-only crowd.  The energy and the uplift were powerfully real, and Spanning’s donation was presented to PepUp Tech (they were the beneficiary of this year’s Spanning’s Trailblazer Community Survey) to eardrum-bursting cheers. I am so very grateful that PepUp Tech’s impact and reach can be extended with Spanning’s $4,500 donation. Thanks again to all the Trailblazer Community Survey responders, who drove our ability to donate.

Dreamforce 2018 and PepUpTech photos

The future of tech is diverse, and is building towards equality for all. The diversity of attendees, for example, at my session on expanding Ohana connections through social media reflect that future, and it was a delight to expand my own circle in post-session chats.

Lori Witzel presenting at Dreamforce 2018Talkin’ about Innovation at Dreamforce

Many innovation conversations at Dreamforce this year focused on how Einstein and AI could be powered by voice commands, bringing the convenience of voice to various Salesforce Clouds. Einstein AI innovations are driving real growth. As noted by Hannah Egan on the Salesforce Commerce Cloud blog, “Many Commerce Cloud customers – more than 95 retailers and brands powering over 250 sites globally – are already using Commerce Cloud Einstein to power product recommendations in their daily operations. These brands have realized increases in revenue from 7-15% per site visitor.

Those innovations grew from person-to-person conversations — listening and learning sessions with customers, much as Spanning’s own commitment to listening and learning have led to innovations such as our ability to restore 17 different Salesforce metadata types, automatically seed Sandboxes with anonymized data, and restore metadata directly from metadata comparison results. These, and upcoming innovations in Spanning Backup for Salesforce, are all informed by conversations with Salesforce Admins and Developers like you. [If you have suggestions that’ll make our products better, we’re all ears — let’s connect on Twitter or LinkedIn.]

Customer Success: A Core Value for Salesforce, a Way of Life at Spanning

Dreamforce provides almost unlimited opportunities for customers to do more and benefit more from Salesforce. Customer success is a core value for Salesforce, and it’s a way of life at Spanning, where our Product Team is in continuous contact with people at the various organizations our products protect.

Salesforce Admins and Developers are more successful when they’re not having to recover from data and metadata loss, but rather are building in the customizations their organizations need to thrive. Leaders in the Salesforce community do what Salesforce encourages — they use a third-party backup provider like Spanning from the AppExchange.

Without Trust, Every Other Value is Lost

For companies like Spanning and Salesforce, maintaining data security and privacy is the baseline. Trust also entails transparency for customers, partners, and employees. If trust is lost, the collaboration needed to innovate for greater customer success is broken. Without trust, working alongside one another for the greater good (as we did in the MVP Volunteer Day pre-Dreamforce) would be almost impossible.

Dreamforce SalesforceMVP Volunteer Day photoAt this year’s Dreamforce, however, the session that exemplified trust the most to me was “True to the Core.” Parker Harris and Salesforce product leadership had been listening to well-informed and increasingly negative feedback on the state of the Idea Exchange and its perceived lack of transparency. Some of the feedback was pointed and public — but rather than quietly take the concerns up behind closed doors, not only did Salesforce share a video in True to the Core of their Product Management leaders reading the negative feedback they were each named in, aloud (ouch!), they shared how they planned to remedy the issues, and had an in-session poll on preferred ways to resolve the problems. They were transparent, showed they heard and listened to the feedback they’d gotten, and did much to repair the trust that had been broken.

I’m proud to work for a Salesforce AppExchange ISV Partner that values trust and transparency as much as Salesforce does. Those values are built into our products, and into our relationships with our customers and our partners.

If Dreamforce ‘18 was a people conference disguised as a tech conference, its heart is the #SalesforceOhana.

Everything I saw at Dreamforce ‘18, from volunteer activities to the PepUp Tech fundraiser “Karaoke for a Cause,” from Salesforce keeping it real at “True to the Core” to the countless times Admins and Developers helped one another learn and grow, means one thing…this tech community is a community like no other!

Download this year’s Trailblazer Community Survey Infographic

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