The marketing team at Trust Company of America went to the annual Dreamforce Conference in San Francisco last week. For those of you who are not familiar with Dreamforce, it is the annual conference put on by Salesforce.com.
Dreamforce is not just a conference - it is an Event. This year the reported attendance was 130,000 people. That is something like 1/8 the population of the city of San Francisco. The conference is mostly held in and around the Moscone Center, but this year it extended north to hotels around Union Square. That made for some pretty good walking (or sprinting) between sessions. Hotel rooms close to conference were at a bit of a premium both in terms of price and availability as you might imagine . Fortunately, I had been to Dreamforce before so I had booked hotel rooms back in June. I talked to many people staying out by the airport or across the bay in Oakland. Finding a place to eat was also interesting. The Open Table app was our best friend for finding good recomendations and with seating.
So what causes 130,000 people to descend on San Francisco for a conference? I think it is three things. One, is the spectacle of it. This year Green Day and Blondie played a concert at AT&T Park. Huey Lewis and News (blast from past) played at the opening keynote address. Alec Baldwin was there doing his latest public mea culpa. Sean Penn was there and so was the President of Haiti. It is a little crazy.
Second, there are some really great keynote speakers. This year saw Marissa Mayer from Yahoo and Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook. In addition there are appearances from C-level executives of some of the largest and most influencal companies in the world.
Third, and most importantly, are the learning sessions. This year there were over 1,200 session that gave people the opportunity to talk about and interact with all aspects of sales, marketing, customer service, operations, and on and on. Scheduling out your agenda on what to see and hear is a major undertaking before going to Dreamforce. When you are there, you have to be prepared to make agenda changes as you find out about new sessions or you decide you want to do someting else. Fortunately there is a Dreamforce app and it makes it pretty easy.
Mobile was, well, everywhere at Dreamforce this year. The ability to run your business and engage with customers from anywhere is where technology is going. TCA has been a big believer in the future of mobile for a while now. Our Liberty platform and moible app has been designed to work across "any of piece of glass." This year we will roll out increased trading and model processing functions that will truly allow you to run your business from anywhere. In addition we have been advocates of advisors designing their websites with Responsive Web Design to ensure their clients have a good experience when on a mobile device.
Another big trend at Dreamforce was the "Internet of Things." This is the idea that all sorts of devices will be connected to the Internet. Everything from devices like a Nest thermostat to MRI machines to jet engines are being connected to the internet. All of these devices offer up the possibility of new interactions with customers that lead to better experiences and satisfaction. Maybe someday Liberty will be connected to your clients car and let you know when they might need to purchase another one. Don't laugh...it just might happen.
Finally, mobile and the Internet of Things lead to an avalanche of data or what has been termed "Big Data." How to harness and use all of this data was another big topic at Dreamforce this year. How can businesses use this data to get a complete view of their customers? How can businesses use this data to provide a better experience? These were just a few of the topics on offer at the conference.
A lot to digest from Dreamforce this year as usual but definately worth the trip!