I just completed an exciting, fun-filled, and yes, tiring, week at Dreamforce 2010, and I am amazed how Salesforce can continue to make huge strides around everything cloud computing. What was once a purely SFA-centric technology show has morphed into one of the hottest overall tech events in the industry—no small feat!
There has already been volumes written on their recent announcements, like the upcoming launch of Database.com, the acquisition of Heroku, and pushing further into the Services Cloud with a new IT services offering called RemedyForce, based off BMC software's Remedy solution. With Salesforce moving even more aggressively into the platform vendor arena, I am excited, as an ISV partner, about the potential this provides to build additional Silverpop solutions on Force.com. In addition to the excitement around Dreamforce, now is also an exciting time on the marketing automation front in general. Below are my three key take-aways as they relate to demand generation in the new Cloud2 era:
1. Chatter finds a home: Launched just last year with somewhat of a lukewarm reception, Chatter has begun to really deliver on its promise. At Dreamforce, Chatter was the underlying basis for networking, planning, and dialogue at the event itself as part of a custom-built app. Participants could attend sessions, discuss topics, and dialogue with like-minded individuals to really make the most of their Dreamforce experience. But beyond just this one use case, leveraging the Chatter stream for sales people to follow prospect activities as part of managing their opportunities has also become a practical reality . For those organizations where a sales team is fully engaged in leveraging Chatter for collaborating, pushing lead updates into the stream will become the norm. This will greatly open the door for external information to enter the business stream. Look for more in this area as Chatter gains additional adoption in SF implementations.
2. B2B Email = Marketing Automation: Email for B2B markets is also rapidly evolving. Make no mistake, the email channel is alive and well, and Salesforce customers are quickly learning that sending batch and blast email campaigns is no longer enough. Instead, they are looking to quickly graduate to full marketing automation processes. At Dreamforce, sessions on lead nurturing, including automating campaigns with triggered emails, lead alerting, and built-in lead scoring were highly attended, including a session on The Art of Nurturing by yours truly. What was clear from the questions and ongoing dialogue was that email best practices are in high demand, as companies look to crawl, walk, and then run with marketing automation. Understanding better the deliverability challenges, email content layout, timing, and content optimization will be required to excel in B2B email marketing powered by marketing automation solutions. Look for more and deeper email discussions at next year’s event.
3. Data-as-a-Service: Last year's acquisition of Jigsaw by Salesforce is helping spawn the integration of data services directly within sales and marketing processes. Traditionally used for one-to-one sales prospecting, third-party contact data such as Jigsaw, NetProspex, D&B, and various other AppExchange partners provide a much needed ability to supplement opted-in lead information. As this data enhancement service becomes more and more tightly integrated into the sales/marketing process, marketers will have a tremendous opportunity to boost their scoring and targeting approaches, without sacrificing permission-based marketing best practices.
As always, hats off to the entire Salesforce team, and their partner community for making this year's Dreamforce event something to remember and we look forward to many exciting new advancements in the year to come.