After experimenting in 2021 with a virtual experience extended over several weeks, Dreamforce went back to in-person in San Francisco this week — with continued virtual access too. The key announcements included the availability of a new data platform solution, Genie, and innovations around Slack, which Salesforce acquired last year.
Attendance is estimated at 40,000, a sharp decline on the 171,000 reported in 2019. Star guests range from Magic Johnson and Bono to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Genie is out of the bottle. Genie, now generally available, marks the latest stage in Salesforce’s long and winding customer data journey. In 2019, at Salesforce Connections, the CRM giant announced the launch of a CDP within the Salesforce 360 customer platform with Customer 360, its comprehensive product suite. The new CDP would allow advanced audience segmentation, based on access to real-time data, as well as execution against these segments across marketing, commerce and service.
It took a full year to launch the CDP, to be known as 360 Audiences — in the short term, at least. In early 2021, the name was withdrawn in favor of the simple Salesforce CDP. Now we have Genie to conjure with, described in a release as “a hyperscale real-time data platform that powers the entire Salesforce Customer 360 platform.”
Genie aims to ingest customer data at scale, across marketing, sales and service, create unified customer profiles, and do it all in milliseconds. In terms of what is announced here, the distinction between Salesforce CDP and Genie is not immediately clear, although Genie is implied to be larger in scale and faster.
There are some new elements, however. Tracking a clear trend in the CDP industry, Genie will be able to query data directly from Snowflake as well as the usual range of marketing channels. There’s also a boutique App Exchange known as the Genie Collection, so far featuring 18 Genie partners, including data activation and enrichment platforms and some high profile data strategy consultancies.
Slack innovations to boost productivity. Salesforce also announced the launch of Slack Canvas and enhancements to Slack Huddles.
- Canvas, available next year, is described as a new “surface” within Slack where teams can organize and curate resources and pull in Customer 360 data.
- New Huddles features include lightweight video and multi-person screen sharing. They will be available in the coming weeks.
Also, a series of major consultancies, including Accenture, Deloitte and PwC are working on Slack roll-outs aimed at specific industries.
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Why we care. Long-established as by far the market leader in the CRM space, whatever Salesforce does is news. So far, at the year’s Dreamforce, the talk seems to have been less about CRM and more about CDP (not to be confused). The question to be resolved is whether Genie is a rebranding of Salesforce CDP or an authentic advance on it. Simply calling it “a hyperscale real-time data platform” is not enough to make it something other than a CDP, especially when it’s actually described as CDP on the Genie Collection home page.
With the Slack innovations, even if Canvas looks a long way down the road, Salesforce might catch a wave. Collaboration — and indeed remote collaboration — is very much front-of-mind, not just for marketers but across business units.
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