#DF12 Day 1: Salesforce as a Social Engagement Platform

September 20, 2012 Balakrishna Narasimhan

by Balakrishna Narasimhan (@bnara75)

If you’re in enterprise technology, the Dreamforce keynote is an event you look forward to all year. Over the past year, Salesforce has really embraced the notion of social as core to every one of their applications, from sales to service to marketing to HR to custom applications. What was revealed in the keynote yesterday was an expansion of that vision and a series of announcements that together reveal Salesforce’s aspirations to become a new type of enterprise technology platform.

If you look back at enterprise applications, they’ve always been designed primarily for record keeping and their primary goal was to hoard information since this information was core to the company’s competitive advantage. Systems like these worked well when companies controlled interactions with customers and could almost mandate the use of systems.

In the social and mobile world, this notion of controlling customer and employee interactions and locking away that information in systems of record is just out-of-date. In a world where both customers and employees define how they want to interact with your company and can no longer be forced down certain interaction paths, the function of enterprise technology needs to change fundamentally. In today’s world, the role of the systems that touch customers and employees is to give both customers and employees a reason to engage.

All of Salesforce’s announcements (and there were many) fit within the theme of making Salesforce the platform for engaging with customers and employees. For more on systems of record vs systems of engagement, check out this brilliant piece by @dionhinchcliffe. Obviously, the vision is much further ahead on the customer side but we’re sure that Salesforce has only begun to reveal their ambitions on the employee or Work.com side.

So, let’s take a look at each of the major announcements and see how they fit together into a new vision for enterprise technology.

Sales – Engage with Everyone Who Touches Sales
Of course, since this is Salesforce, the first stop was the Sales Cloud and its transformation from an administrative system for sales to one that really makes it easier for sales people to sell.  There were three main announcements:

  • Social Key: this one sounds almost too good to be true but the promise is that the Social Key will make it possible to connect customer (or presumably employees, if they’re contacts in Salesforce) profiles with their social presence on Facebook, Twitter, etc. In the past, this used to be a manual task but the Social Key promises to automate this. Less than 10 minutes was spent on this announcement, but this is the foundation for the new customer 360 (check out this chalk talk on the need for a new 360).
  • Chatter Partner Communities: a common problem for sales teams is collaborating beyond one’s own company. Chatter made it easy to create a virtual account team within your own company but it didn’t let you bring in partners, resellers and others who are key to winning the deal or servicing the account. With Chatter Partner Communities, it’s now possible to collaborate seamlessly with partners.
  • Salesforce Touch: as has been rumored for a while, Salesforce announced the GA of their HTML5-based mobile experience. An effective mobile experience is critical to changing CRM from something sales people have to deal with before a forecasting call to something that actually helps them sell. If the demo today was any indication, Touch is going to be a big step forward for sales teams.

The common theme across all three announcements in the sales cloud is engagement. Social Key makes it possible to track customer preferences and engage effectively as a salesperson, Chatter Partner Communities help you engage your extended selling team and Touch brings it all to you in an engaging mobile experience.
More on the announcements here

Service – Let Customers Engage with Each Other and You on Their Terms
The next stop in the tour of the social enterprise was customer service. Here, the theme was around using social to offer customers the ability to interact in the ways they choose and even solve each other’s problems. The vision was showcased with a great customer story from Activision.

The biggest new announcement was around Chatter Customer Communities. Similar to the partner communities in the Sales Cloud, customer communities enable companies to create private Chatter groups with customers where they can get issues resolved by connecting with service experts or others in the community. At first glance, this doesn’t sound like big news, but what makes this unique is that the customers’ social profile and the company’s knowledgebase can be shared across all channels including the community. This means that whether an agent is on the phone or in the community, they have a complete picture of the customer and the full knowledge of how to solve the customer’s problem. In the future, I’m sure we’ll see gamification and badging to reward customer engagement and perhaps even direct feedback from customers to agents.
More on the announcements here

Marketing – Create a Social Engagement Funnel
With their acquisition of Buddy Media earlier this year, it was clear that Salesforce had something up their sleeve for Marketers. Today, they unveiled a unified vision for marketing that goes from monitoring using Radian6 to engaging using a Radian6 console to advertising using Buddy Media, and of course measuring everything using Salesforce campaigns and reporting. The Social Key is again critical to creating that single social profile of the customer across the rest of the marketing cloud.

This an exciting vision for the future of marketing where we go from mass marketing to 1-1 engagement at scale. The Marketing Cloud starts to provides some of the tools to make this transition but it’s still a massive change for marketing organizations to retool their organizations from outbound mass marketing to inbound 1-1 engagement. The Marketing Cloud also has some gaps in the areas of marketing automation and data analytics. Nonetheless, it’s exciting to see Salesforce start to help marketers with a set of integrated applications to engage prospects and customers on social networks.
More on the announcements here 

Collaborate – Make Collaboration More Engaging with Files
In the area of collaboration, there were two main announcements. The first was extending Chatter to partners and customers, which we covered in the context of sales and service. The second announcement and it was big one, was Chatterbox which provides the ability to securely share files across devices using Chatter. Chatter has had file sharing capabilities for a while but extending it right to the employee, customer or partner’s device is a major step. No more logging in to Chatter to the get latest version of a sales presentation or marketing video, you just have it, regardless of what device you’re using. People who use Dropbox in their personal lives experience something similar but the difference is the secure sharing based on Salesforce user profiles and the collaborative context from Chatter.
More on the announcements here 

Work – Increase Workforce Engagement with Social Feedback
Along with marketing, the other new area that Salesforce sketched their vision around was Work. HR and Marketing are both being dramatically changed because of social, so it’s no surprise that Salesforce is entering this area. EVP of Social Apps, John Wookey, gave an engaging presentation talking about the misalignment between traditional org hierarchies and the way work actually gets done and recognized. Work.com provides a social platform for employees to share goals and feedback, right in their Chatter profile. This provides a real-time picture of an employee’s impact, rather than an annual performance review that rarely captures the full picture. Salesforce also announced an integration with Workday to bring together social performance feedback with Workday’s talent profile and core employee data. Finally, they announced a partnership with Amazon to redeem Work.com recognition points for Amazon.com gift cards. The vision was brought to life by showing how Facebook uses Work.com. For those watching closely, the Facebook story contained a hint about where Work.com might go next when it touched on how Facebook runs their recruiting process.

What was announced today is just the start for Work.com and Workday. We believe this is the first step in unveiling a new vision for HR around workforce engagement rather than administering transactions. As savvy industry commentator and new Appirio partner, Jason Averboook, has observed, Work.com is such a big change from the status quo that one of its biggest values in the short term might be that you can’t simply port over a broken HR process to Work.com.
More on the announcements here

Innovate – Engage with Business Users and Customers Wherever they Are
And finally, it was COO, George Hu’s turn to talk about how the platform is changing to become an engagement platform for social and mobile apps. 

  • Salesforce Identity: Salesforce Identity makes it possible to log into other enterprise applications with Salesforce. So, what does this have to do with being an engagement platform? It’s about making Salesforce the single source of relevant information, whether from internal apps for a traditional 360 or from the social profile for the new 360. It also makes it possible for other apps to benefit from the enterprise social graph in Salesforce. 
  • Chatter Canvas: Closely related to the vision of making Salesforce the engagement console for enterprises, Chatter Canvas makes it possible to bring data and information from other applications right to a Salesforce page. Common scenarios include order history or invoice history from SAP shown on an account page
  • Heroku Enterprise Cloud Service: The new Heroku cloud service extends the platform to social networks by making it easy for enterprises to create apps to engage people on social networks using Heroku, but now with a enterprise-grade tools and support.
  • Touch: Finally, Touch brings all of this to any device and promises to make the vision of write once, deploy anywhere true at last.

George closed with a futuristic demo where he created his own Coke drink on a Freestyle machine, shared it on his Facebook page, and then his friend, the always game Dan Darcy, used the barcode from George’s post to get the same drink at a Coke machine near him.

What it all adds up to is a new vision for what drives every business’ success – engagement with customers, partners, and employees – and a technology portfolio and partnerships that start to make this new vision a reality. At Appirio, we’re excited to work with Salesforce, Workday, Facebook and Google to break the stranglehold of the on-premise vendors and usher in a new era of engagement and productivity!

Watch the entire keynote here

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