We have the opportunity to attend Salesforce’s Connections conference in Atlanta, held from May 10th to 12th 2016. The conference is well attended with over 5000 participants, coming from customers, prospects and the ecosystem. My impression of the attendance was that it was energized and looking forward to use more of the Salesforce marketing offerings. 


So take a look at my musings on the event here:


No time to watch – here is the 1-2 slide condensation:
Want to read on? Here you go: Always tough to pick the takeaways – but here are my Top 3 (check out my colleague Alan Lepfosky’s takeaways in this video, too):

Lightning coming to Marketing Cloud – Similar to what Salesforce has announced and provided for Sales Cloud and Service Cloud, its Lightning framework is coming, has come to Marketing Cloud. Lightning has multiple facets, it affects the user experience (to come), provides a platform (available) and a collection on components to build new applications (the Lightning Components). It is good to see Salesforce pursue a consistent strategy and the marketing required / to be provided Lightning Components will make the Lightning platform stronger and more powerful. Classic platform benefits.

The Builders and Studios are here - Salesforce has harmonized product naming with a group of 5 Builders and 5 Studios (check out the video above for the details). The Builders provide horizontal support across all marketing activity (e.g. the Audience Builder takes are of audience / segmentation activity) and the Studios power channel execution  above the Builders (e.g. the new Email Studio takes care of email marketing). A good simplification and consistent way to group products. Special kudos to Salesforce Bryan Wade who even the keynote picked up my tweets for clarification – and addressed the role of Builders and Studios during the keynote. A first and as it by the way should be – for a marketing automation vendor – listening to the audience. Well done.

Predictive Analytics for Journey Builder – Journey Builder featured prominently at Connections, as it choreographs the digital relationship with customers, a functionality at the very heart of Marketing Cloud. But the need for explicit definition of customer journeys can only go so far. With cheap compute from the Cloud, BigData and ‘true’ analytics (more here) – customer journeys should not be deterministic, but fluid creation of the digital exhaust of existing customer behavior. Using predictive analytics (mostly Scoring) is a good first step departing from the deterministic philosophy.



A good Connections for Salesforce, the vendor is investing into the product, probably bringing more functionality together through the Builders and Studios than ever before. Good to see the commonality with the Lightning adoption and the next generation Application capabilities that the Lightning platform, combined with Lightning components offer. The predictive analytics capabilities for Journey Builder are encouraging steps to move away from deterministic to probabilistic customer journeys, that are key in the 21st century given the erratic and multi-persona behavior both consumers and customers show.

On the concern side Salesforce is taking some time to unify the user experience. Granted Lightning as a platform is 1.5 years old, the user experience only a little more than 6 months, but a common user experience coming to Marketing Cloud 3+ years after the acquisition of ExactTarget is not ‘lightning’ speed (pun intended). And overall Salesforce has to straddle the chasm of operating two platforms, the existing force.com (that runs Sales Cloud and Service Cloud) and the Marketing Cloud platform that goes across force.com, the products legacy platforms and newer offerings with Lightning (with Heruko, AWS). But by now that is pretty much modus operandi for Salesforce and its customers, so the integration and operation ‘tax’ are factored in. It would be good to harmonize on a single platform sooner than later for Salesforce – hoping we will learn more at Dreamforce later this year.

But overall a good event for Salesforce and its Marketing Cloud product, the ecosystem interest is good, customers are energized, and Salesforce in investing in new products and capabilities, that make Marketing Cloud a must shortlist product for customers who use other Salesforce products, and certainly a long list vendor for overall marketing automation selections.

Want to learn more? Checkout the Storify collection below.


More about Salesforce:
  • Event Scorecard - Salesforce Dreamforce 2015 - App, Analytics, IoT... - pre event thoughts assessment - read here
  • Event Report - Salesforce Dreamforce - Value for customers - but some concerns on direction - read here
  • News Analysis - Microsoft and Salesforce Strengthen Strategic Partnership at Dreamforce 2015 - Good for joint customers - read here
  • News Analysis - Salesforce Unveils Breakthrough Salesforce IoT Cloud, Powered by Salesforce Thunder - First dips into IoT - read here
  • News Analysis - Salesforce Unveils the Next Wave of Salesforce Analytics Cloud—Delivering Actionable Insights Across the Customer Success Platform - Glass half full - and half empty! Read / watch here
  • Event Preview - What I would like Salesforce to address this Dreamforce 2015 - read / watch here
  • News Analysis - Salesforce Announces Salesforce App Cloud - A Unified Platform for Building Connected  Apps, Fast - It’s all coming together, across the clouds - read here
  • News Analysis - alesforce Delivers Salesforce1 Lightning Components and App Builder […] - More productivity for Admins and Developers - read here
  • News Analysis - News Analysis - Salesforce Launches Salesforce Shield - More PaaS capabilities coming to Salesforce1 Platform - read here
  • News Analysis - Salesforce Transforms Big Data Into Customer Success with the Salesforce Analytics Cloud - Read here
  • News Analysis - Market Move - Salesforce (re) enters HCM - will it rypple the market this time? - Read here
  • Event Report - Salesforce Dreamforce - A Customer Succes Platform, Analytics and Lightning - but really Salesforce is re-platforming - read here
  • Constellation Research Summary of Salesforce Dreamforce 2014 - read here
  • Research Summary - An in depth look at Salesforce1 - Better packaging or new offerng? Read here.
  • Dreamforce 2013 Platform Takeaways - All about the mobile platform - or more? Read here
  • Platform ecosystems are hard - Salesforce grows it - FinancialForce shrinks it - read here.
  • Our take on Salesforce.com Identity Connect - from three angles - Identity, CRM and PaaS - read here.
  • Takeaways from the Salesforce and Workday Strategic Partnership - read here.
  • Act II - The Cloud changes everything - Oracle and Salesforce.com - read here.
  • How many Pivots make a Pirouette? Salesforce's last Pivot - read here.
Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here.