I am not at the Salesforce event this week but changed my travel plans to make sure I could watch yesterday’s streaming of the 2 hour keynote.
Some of it was predictable. Marc Benioff has an admirable loyalty to Hawaii, friends in the music industry, Monastic monks and Deepak Chopra and as far back as I can remember they have been fixtures at Dreamforce.
The customer profiles were mind-blowing. I love the generous time 3 customers – Unilever, Marriott and Brunello Cucinelli S.p.A – got on the stage. Too many vendors gloss over customer mentions in such sessions – have 50 logos on a slide or invite executives to just pick up some award. Salesforce executives did a really nice job describing technology as applied to each of these customers and their industries. And each had subtle “social” statements. The Ben & Jerry/Unilever portion focused on allowing customers to make sustainability choices about ingredients in their ice cream. Tony Prophet, a black executive pulled up on his Marriott app his reservation at a Bellevue property for a LGBT conference. Nice focus on diversity. Brunello, even speaking in Italian, passionately emphasized “soul” in business and implored Marc to create something enduring by invoking the Parthenon and Florence. All well done.
What I did not care much about was the long lead in. I have written before Salesforce overplays the activism card and that leads to expectations it often cannot live up to. What Tony did in his Marriott segment was so much more subtle. I also think Salesforce overplays the Trailblazer and ecosystem stance. As an application vendor, customers pay it a lot of money. The custom building and SI costs are over and above. If anything Salesforce should be aggressively managing this not bragging about the billions it is costing customers. As an analyst, I tell customers to evaluate vendors based on functionality, economics, architecture not their diversity or activist stance. So, I cringed a few times at the beginning of the keynote.
All’s well that ends well and other vendors would do well to emulate the time and space the 3 customers got in the Dreamforce keynote. Watch the replay here – especially the portions on the 3 customers.