In October, Salesforce held its annual Dreamforce event in San Francisco. Attracting over 170,000 attendees, and with 15 million viewers logging on to Dreamforce 2016 online, it is one of the largest technology conferences in the world.

PwC team members from across our network joined the four-day showcase of trends and technology that focuses on forging better customer relationships. With over 3,300 sessions and 25 keynotes, it’s a hive of learning and new developments – so we set our Australian colleagues the task of condensing this mammoth experience into four key takeaways.

Here’s their view of Dreamforce 2016’s major themes:

Dreamforce 2016: 4 key takeaways

Easily accessible AI is the answer to big data…
and your competitors are using it

Artificial intelligence has probably been the most ubiquitous of this year’s technology trends. It comes as no surprise, then, that Einstein, Salesforce’s new AI functionality, dominated the discussion at Dreamforce 2016.

Einstein is essentially a data scientist embedded in the Salesforce platform. Until now, predictive analytics or deep data evaluation demanded that you stitch together supporting software and analytical tools and define algorithms and rules manually. Now, these will be interwoven as a native capability that can plug and play.

As John Ball of Salesforce Einstein said in his keynote¹, the power of all the algorithms we see in our lives as consumers – from suggested films in the Netflix app to automated photo tagging in Facebook – is becoming available to enterprise, automatically harnessing vast amounts of data to offer meaningful, intelligent predictions and suggestions.   

Just as it did with CRM and later with other business capabilities, with this move Salesforce has embedded capabilities that may enable organisations to disrupt their industries, giving them the tools to take on much larger players in their market segments.  

Bearing in mind Einstein is yet to be rolled out, the question of whether Salesforce’s AI capability will be differentiated from its peers like Google remains to be seen. There’s no doubt, though, that AI is here to stay, or that there’s a market in an easy-to-implement, integrated solution.

Experiences should be customised for the individual,
not just for their segment

Generic marketing messages and responses aren’t cutting it any more. Brand interactions need to be proactive, personalised and responsive to individual behaviour. It’s about getting closer to the customer – and technology is the key to doing so at scale.

Chief Product Officer of the Marketing Cloud, Bryan Wade, talked about the evolution of marketing to reach personalisation². This involves a combination of customer journey mapping as well as utilising predictive analytics to create a valuable and tailored experience at each touchpoint. (John Riccio talks about the importance of creating these ‘signature experiences’ in a Digital Pulse article here.)

The industrialisation
of the internet of things is upon us

The connectivity of devices with a wider network means that the internet of things presents unlimited opportunities to revolutionise the world around us.

In business, IoT solutions offer the ability to transform processes, operations and revenue models. Forrester research from early 2016³ suggests that inventory and warehouse management in retail, and industrial asset management in manufacturing present some of the greatest opportunities for the internet of things.

Our prediction is that 2016 will be seen as the turning point in which IoT went from experimental to industrialised. The capability is being demonstrated in everything from machinery parts that self manage and diagnose, to city litter bins that send out alerts to be emptied when they’re full. Proactive servicing and maintenance of machines is just one of the many great ways to take customer service to the next level.

With all of this opportunity comes the challenge of how to appropriately collect, store, and filter all the data that comes with it – and of course, turn that into action.  

Improving customer experience
and reducing costs are not at odds any more

Providing a great experience for your customers on the channels they prefer doesn’t need to be an expensive exercise. For example, capabilities such as chatbots – AI-powered conversation simulators – now allow for more efficient one-on-one interactions. Many companies are already implementing chatbot technology in their customer-facing operations.

Powering customer platforms with AI also lets businesses automatically stitch together insights from user interactions, which allow for further insights around product offerings, pricing, availability and ease of use – ultimately enabling the delivery of a better, more efficient service.



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Tan Allaway

Tan Allaway is a former editor of PwC’s Digital Pulse.

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