Today’s Dreamforce keynote was about tapping into trends that are even bigger than salesforce.com. The opening video described the astronomic growth of facebook and twitter in the consumer space. The soundtrack was a special song by global super-star will.i.am, telling us that “this is your chance to own it” when it comes to the opportunities in front of us. Benioff pulled not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE different mobile internet devices out of his pockets. Whatever happened to our little conference on customer relationship management?
Even the technology announcements were bigger than how people usually think about salesforce.com. Sure, Salesforce continues to push forward its industry-leading namesake CRM application. The Sales Cloud announcements honestly deserve their own conference (over 50 new features), where we’d talk a lot less about “cloud” and a lot more about the productivity of salespeople. The improvements to reporting, dashboards, chatter, and mobile accessibility will be appreciated by every one of Salesforce’s 100,000 customers.
But I think everyone in the audience got the sense that this year’s Dreamforce is really about a broader story…. how Salesforce is pushing beyond the Sales Cloud to change how companies of all size run their IT. Of course there’s Service Cloud—doing to the world of call centers what the Sales Cloud did for sales people. And the Collaboration Cloud— the “Chatter” app that finally brings salesforce.com out to every employee in the enterprise (now available for free). There’s also the “Data Cloud”, powered by Salesforce’s acquisition of Jigsaw’s contact and company data in the cloud.
Less sexy, but even more important, is what’s underneath all these clouds applications. Of course, there’s salesforce’s own platform as a service, used for what they’re now calling Appforce (for custom apps), Siteforce (for web sites), and ISVforce (for ISV applications). In previous years, Salesforce has been all about “going native” on this platform, using ONLY salesforce.com technology to build applications.
This year, we’re hearing a slightly different story. It started with VMforce, the ability to write java code using VMware’s spring framework that uses Force.com as a database. That idea of mixing and matching Force.com technology with other technology frameworks was extended this year with the annoucement of “database.com,” an idea that Benioff has wanted to do since the early, early days of Salesforce.
Now you can pick and choose which pieces of Salesforce technology you want to use in your applications. If you want a basic business app up and running quickly, then building natively gives you prebuilt UI components, business objects, mobile access,reporting, analytics, and more, all delivered as a service. But if you need more flexibility, then you can mix and match this technology with other frameworks.
That’s what we expect to see a lot more of in tomorrow’s platform keynote—Ruby applications using Force.com as a database. Java apps that use the Force.com security model. Native mobile apps using Force.com as a backend.
But that’s tomorrow’s keynote… there’s a long day of Dreamforce ahead of us!