Here's all you need to know about Salesforce's strategy. On the company's second quarter earnings conference call, Data Cloud was mentioned 34 times, Dreamforce 31 times and generative AI 21 times.
Put the three together and you pretty much know what's coming at Dreamforce Sept. 12-14.
The bigger picture here is that Salesforce will double down on Data Cloud, which the company says is its fastest organic growing cloud and use it to expand wallet share. For a second there, I thought Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff was channeling Snowflake CEO Frank Slootman, who has said "enterprises and institutions alike are increasingly aware they cannot have an AI strategy without a data strategy."
Benioff took a more roundabout way to get to the data strategy part. Salesforce's take is that enterprise data strategy should be to unify on Data Cloud and then leverage the integration and generative AI tools with its other clouds.
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Benioff said (emphasis mine):
What you can see with Data Cloud is that customers must get their data together if they want to achieve success with AI. This is the critical first step for every single customer.
We're going to get this Data Cloud turned on as fast as we can and as easily as we can for every single one of our customers.
It not only has AI built in, but it's real time, it's automated, it's integrated with the core platform. It's not some separate Data Cloud. It's an integrated part of our platform in our metadata, in our core code, like our Sales Cloud, like our Service Cloud and, as you're about to assume seeing our new Marketing Cloud and Commerce Cloud and of course, our core application development capabilities all inside our Data Cloud.
And our data cloud is so deeply integrated as part of this core metadata architecture. It's allowing our customers to quickly action all of their data from any source without the costly integration project necessary with stand-alone data warehouses and data lakes, they've been forced to buy and create more islands of information and all of these independent systems and independent teams versus having one integrated data architecture.
We're moving our customers from having islands of data to having a single source of truth for all of their data. This is our greatest dream."
According to Salesforce, Data Cloud ingested 6 trillion records in the second quarter. Data Cloud was in five of Salesforce's top 10 deals in the quarter with FedEx being the biggest win.
Clearly for Salesforce, the game is stacking multiple clouds with Data Cloud being the linchpin that drives returns. Benioff said:
"As these clouds get stacked with these customers', attrition falls, customers become more successful, they develop a single source of truth. And our job is to get all of these things running on our core and getting all of these things ignited with artificial intelligence."
Will customers buy Salesforce's Data Cloud dream?
It's not exactly a new phenomenon that an enterprise vendor wants to be your single source of truth. The more data that is housed on a platform the more lock-in is created. Oracle, SAP, Salesforce, Microsoft and a bevy of others play a similar game. Toss in Snowflake and Databricks and there's big money in being the data platform of choice.
For Salesforce, it's critical that Data Cloud integrates its various services. Data Cloud is the avenue for Salesforce to sell more clouds. And the built-in integration with multiple Salesforce clouds may be well timed given enterprises are consolidating vendors. That native Data Cloud integration with Salesforce applications is likely to drive demand regardless.
However, the idea that Salesforce will be the single source of data truth is a bit farfetched. After all, data resides in multiple lakes, warehouses, databases and repositories across clouds. The game is able to tap into those data stores seamlessly. Salesforce knows this reality already and has partnered with Salesforce as well as the hyperscale cloud providers so customers can bring their own data.
My bet: Data Cloud will be the big Salesforce theme, but MuleSoft, which connects various systems and data, will be the secret sauce.