Dreamforce before Salesforce went Big
By Jim Lundy
Back in 2008, Dreamforce, Salesforce’s annual customer and partner event, was not that big. I know because that year, I was begged by the Gartner Account Executive to attend Dreamforce, including a customer luncheon with Salesforce Co-Founder Parker Harris. The reason? Dreamforce wasn’t the event it is now and three years ago Salesforce didn’t have the mojo it has now. As a result, Analysts didn’t feel the need to attend. All that has changed.
Of course in 2008, Cloud and SaaS applications were still coming into vogue. Clients weren’t as sure as they were about shifting from their current CRM tool to a Cloud based one like Salesforce. They were very curious about Salesforce, but were not quite sure. Jump ahead to 2012 and as I travel around, I see lots of firms that have their inside salesforce staff working hard, making calls with their Salesforce Opportunity Dashboards open.
In 2008, Dreamforce didn’t have the buzz it had in 2011, but all the signs were there. CEO Marc Benioff didn’t have as much to talk about. In 2008, he had Neil Young onstage for what seemed like an eternity with his famous green car. Last year, Neil was relegated to a front row seat; he got a shake of the hand and a 10 second sound byte.
In 2008, there were other signs of the future though. In 2008, Marc had Sheryl Sandberg onstage from Facebook. 2008 was really before Facebook went really big, but the signs of a partnership were there. In 2011, Facebook was part of the Dreamforce keynote and they disclosed that many of the apps that run on Facebook, are actually powered by Force.com
One of the biggest things that I noticed in the three year span from 2008 to 2011 was the customer stories. 2011 had tons of customers telling their Salesforce stories, some of them Social, some of them not. Salesforce also got much better at event production, particularly around the quality of their videos, which are now a benchmark in the technology industry.
The last thing that really changed from three years ago is that Force.com has gone big. There are thousands of apps that now work with the various Clouds (Sales Cloud, Service Cloud) that Salesforce offers. It is this growing ecosystem that is the threat to other established Enterprise Software players. More on that later in our Syndicated Research.
So as we head into next week and Dreamforce 2012, expectations are high. What we already know is that Salesforce will put on a good show. Aragon Research will be at Dreamforce and we are looking forward to analyzing the announcements and interacting with attendees.