Salesforce.com’s annual Dreamforce conference is emerging as one of those juggernaut events, where year after year the crowds just keep getting bigger. The numbers by themselves are impressive, with 30,000 people converging in San Francisco’s Moscone Center, but the energy and activity of those registrants is different than other events.
I’ve been attending trade shows and user conferences for more than 20 years and I have never seen lines stretching across two halls to attend keynote sessions or swarms of people waiting for the expo hall to open.
And just like a hit Broadway show playing to sold-out crowds, Dreamforce had a few new stars emerge from the cast this year. The first to step out to center stage was the marketing automation category. With both Marketo and Eloqua playing lead roles as Platinum sponsors of this year’s Dreamforce, attendees were no longer asking what marketing automation is, but now more pointed questions about how they could and should be using it alongside salesforce.com.
In fact, Marketo took the opportunity at the event to announce that more than 600 of its customers jointly use Marketo and Salesforce.com. Eloqua CMO Brian Kardon said that this year’s conference was a tipping point for the automation industry. “The conversations at this year’s Dreamforce reflected an incredible maturing in the market’s sophistication,” Kardon said. “For the most part, attendees didn’t need to be ‘sold’ on the benefits of adopting marketing automation. Rather, they were interested in learning about ways to do lead scoring better, create more effective nurturing programs, and measure marketing’s performance. Conversations were largely about marketing’s contribution to revenue growth — the idea of Revenue Performance Management.”
Data management also emerged from the shadows at this year’s event, driven in part by Salesforce’s launch of Database.com, labeled as the world’s first enterprise database built for the cloud. Designed to power enterprise applications that are cloud, mobile and social, Salesforce.com’s CEO Marc Benioff predicted Database.com will enable developers to “focus on building great applications instead of tuning, maintaining and scaling databases.”
While the move to put data in the cloud could dramatically reduce the hardware and software needed to manage databases, it won’t eliminate the problem of data management that most BtoB companies are still facing. As Marketo’s Maria Pergolino wrote on the company’s blog this week, “Every organization has customer or prospect data issues. Either you are looking to add people to your database, are trying to update or complete information about those in your database, or have too much data and are struggling to normalize their information or sort out which are the active records and which are just filler.”
Salesforce’s acquisition of Jigsaw last year really opened the door to the concept that data management was a key strategic lever for both sales and marketing. At Dreamforce this year, firms including Zoominfo, Infogroup and others were previewing new intelligent database tools which help companies add new relevant contacts based on the profile of existing records, as well as append and refresh solutions designed to help address the ongoing problem of data hygiene.
Just as Jigsaw can now be integrated with Salesforce.com, these intelligent database tools from Zoominfo and Infogroup can now be integrated with Salesforce and other CRM systems, brining real-time analytics to data management.