I’ve just come back from the Dreamforce 2013 conference in San Francisco.  Once thought of as the Salesforce.com user conference, this gathering has exploded to become an epicenter of B2B marketing thought and collaboration.  The 350 vendors that support the Salesforce world, along with the impressive set of products from Salesforce.com themselves, showed an exciting future for B2B marketing.

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Dreamforce has also begun to transcend being a merely a technology gathering and becoming a cultural event.  There was big-time celebrity involvement in the keynotes and a general buzz of excitement during the real opening of the show Tuesday.  There was also Dreamforce’s grip on the city of San Francisco.  From the closing of Howard street to become an enclosed meeting and entertainment center, to the sessions distributed over many of the big hotels downtown and with a total force of 135,000 attendees, 350 vendors and so on that have taken over the city.

So what did I learn?  Here are three big learnings I had:

  1. B2B Marketing tools are more sophisticated than ever.  The digital marketing age has now produced enough critical mass in terms of new data, new channels of communication and new ways to engage with customers to warrant a new generation of marketing tools.  Dreamforce was a showcase for those tools and the real-time world of interacting with your customers in a digital fashion that can be monitored in real time 24/7 in a fashion never seen before in the B2B world.
  2. Everything is integrated with everything.  That might be exaggerating the current state just a little bit, but the ongoing march toward seamlessness in both development and customer experience integration is moving along.  Social media networks will always have limitations in the data they can share, due to their privacy agreements with their customers, but aggregate studies and searching of keywords can create some pretty interesting data, especially when the topic is your product.  Salesforce has also released a new vision of their world and a connected platform called the“Salesforce 1 Platform,” designed to bring all customer interations under the same umbrella.  This, coupled with the string of impressive acquisitions Salesforce has made, makes for a powerful set of tools.
  3. Marc Benioff and his team put on a hell of a show. Especially for an event of its size, Dreamforce was well-run and seemed to move with a naturally-generated energy.  The scale was tremendous, the execution amazing and even the steady rain did not slow it down.  I personally learned a great deal in a short period of time and got caught up in the show’s energy. I think it’s great to have so much energy focused on engaging customers in B2B situations.  It’s a breath of fresh air and the momentum Salesforce.com has created will continue in a higher gear.

Long overdue, B2B marketing is becoming technology-driven like never before.  That technology was in full display at this year’s Dreamforce.  We should all welcome the arrival and look forward to using the tools.

You can connect with Eric on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ericlundbohm/

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