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Chuck Dreamforce '11 Recap and Review

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By Chuck Schaeffer

The Social Enterprise Becomes the Mantra

The ninth annual Dreamforce introduced the theme of the social enterprise while continuing to pull off record setting attendance, meaningful product announcements and a mix of education with entertainment. This year's Dreamforce conference attracted 45,000 registered attendees, an impressive 66% clip over last year's notable 30,000 visitor turnout. The morning keynotes were delivered to about 15,000 attendees in the Moscone center and another 35,000 online viewers. CEO Marc Benioff was in classic form for both keynotes – unstoppable energy, doing his best to inspire the crowd and speaking while walking the floor isles more so than the stage.

Benioff spoke of a social divide—whereby customers and employees are social, but companies have failed to keep pace—and laid out a three step framework to create a social enterprise.

First, create a database of social profiles of your customers. Leverage their social personas to identify their interests, find their personal motivations and learn what it takes to delight them. To facilitate this step, the upcoming Winter edition, due in October, will update the Contacts page with on-page displays of the contact's Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles. These are not just links to access social channels, but retrieval of those social profiles embedded in the Contact page.

The second step to the social enterprise is to create an internal (secure) social network to communicate, collaborate, facilitate cross-departmental business process automation and connect employees with the best information and experts in the company. And while no surprise that positions Chatter as the tool for the job, there were unpredicted announcements of Chatter's new capabilities, including Chatter Now and support for groups, connect (with API), inline filters and approvals (tapping into workflow process automation). The groups function will assemble classic examples like project teams as well as traditionally less organized topics such as a competitor intelligence group, a customer references group or a product experts group. Perhaps more interesting, groups can include external members such as customers or business partners, by granting permissions specific to those groups for outside participants. The Chatter product evolution is collectively designed to integrate the various enterprise lines of business and prevent or squash the all too common problem of generating islands of disparate social data.

The third step to the social enterprise is more outwardly focused on customer and product social networks. Customer social networks are nothing new and there are many tools available from Salesforce and others for the job. However, product social networks are a comparatively new concept, and the tools for this piece of the equation are less packaged and require more creative thought. Benioff gave an example of the Toyota Cloud Car, also known as the Toyota Friend, which delivers car maintenance and other updates to an owner's dashboard. Other examples included the Enterasys switch which also sends maintenance and performance updates to an online portal and Coke machines, which leverage mobile geo data to interact with proximate consumers and their mobile devices.

While overly simplistic and tactically focused, the three step framework is a useful starting point for business and IT leaders to begin the social enterprise discussion. When preceded with existing strategy and integrated to stakeholder interests, the framework provides an operational perspective that can be backed with measurable objectives and progress based milestones to deliver valuable engagement with both internal and external constituents. And when setting those objectives, keep in mind that the social enterprise, like CRM itself, is a journey, not a destination.

There were certainly plenty of other conference highlights, including new product introductions such as, product advancements with and Heroku, the always comical jabs at Oracle with the "Beware the False Cloud" advisements, and of course the counter amusing competitor displays (with Oracle CRM making a big presence on the sidewalks and streets). But not withstanding the new product launches and entertainment, the overarching theme remains social, and the social enterprise is the strategy and message that the company will carry into the coming years to evangelize and differentiate. As Benioff states, "We were born cloud, and reborn social." End

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Comments (4) — Comments for this page are closed —

Guest Colleen Petri
  Wow, I think the prior comment demonstrates a really interesting point, and maybe an example of the so called digital divide. Could it be that Gen Y embraces social tools because that’s what they know, and is relatively mute to strategic endeavors because they don’t have that experience, while just the opposite remains true for corporate leaders? I enjoy the social tools but agree that they deliver operational efficiencies, not strategic advantages. But having said that, I think the prior comment really reinforces to me that the two are complimentary, and for CRM vendors to be most valuable partners they must support both perspectives particularly well.

Guest Sony Baker
  It seems like the digital divide may be a product of a strategy divide. I agree that improved communication and collaboration supported by more social tools is helpful, but effective communication and collaboration are still table stakes. They have to be done well to remain competitive, with or without social tools, and in and of themselves don’t provide differentiation, or competitive advantage. I’d like to hear less about an internal facebook tool and more about strategic methods and supporting tools to acquire more customers, grow top line revenues, increase customer share and market share, boost customer loyalty and the like. Yes, Chatter and social tools play a role in these objectives, but a tactical role. When you position tactical and operational tools as strategic competitive advantages, you mask reality and risk becoming an operationally efficient company that fails to strategically outperform competitors. Its unclear to me if Chatter is getting the most Salesforce promotion because it’s the new shiny thing that taps into the already present media hype or its what CEOs and business leaders have been asking for. I don’t know any CEOs that have been asking for an internal facebook tool.

Guest Jim Earlsmay
  I wasn’t able to attend. I clearly get the social movement for consumers but not so sure the relevance is the same for companies.
  Chuck Chuck Schaeffer
    Social media has been lead by consumers, with businesses reacting and adopting to maintain pace—and achieve objectives such as customer engagement. However, social isn’t limited to consumers, and in fact citizens (like consumers but in a different context) are tapping into social channels for political reforms. When extrapolating social movements, think of an analogy whereby an Arab spring which removes (Tunisian, Egyptian and Libyan) unrelenting dictators is replicated into a corporate context, a corporate spring, where customers and shareholders reject and revolt the actions of CEO’s or Directors that fail to listen to their stakeholders. It’s only a matter of time. The change in the balance of purchasing power toward the consumer, the reach of consumer sentiment and the speed of consumer assembly will provide both opportunities and risks for businesses; depending upon how they react.


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Not withstanding new product launches and great entertainment, the overarching theme remains social, and the social enterprise is the strategy and message that the company will carry into the coming years to evangelize and differentiate. As Benioff states, "We were born cloud, and reborn social."


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