At the Dreamforce 2015 conference, cloud-based CRM provider Salesforce built on its key innovations from last year, with improvements to its development platform, Lightning, and its analytics offering, Wave. With its upgrades, Salesforce has continued to focus on personalizing customer experiences, making data actionable and democratizing the application experience for business users.
Salesforce built on these upgrades with enhancements to existing offerings, such as the Sales and Service Clouds, as well as with new service offerings at the Dreamforce 2015 conference. Announced at the show was Salesforce's foray into the Internet of Things -- the IoT Cloud -- which enables companies to take the massive streams of data coming from products, ingest that data into the Salesforce platform and generate actions based on the data in real time. Wind turbines could adjust their behavior based on weather or delayed passengers with airline connections could be rebooked while they are still in flight. The IoT Cloud is powered by Thunder, a sister development platform to Lightning, under the hood.
The IoT Cloud also reflects Salesforce's further entrenchment in its ecosystem. Microsoft, for example, is using the cloud to capture data on Office 365 usage, Microsoft's productivity and collaboration platform. Salesforce in turn is tapping into Microsoft's Azure for scalability given the massive volumes of data, then sending the data to Salesforce applications.
Users responded to the offerings at the Dreamforce show with piqued interest -- and some caution. Users are generally enthused by the enhancements to Lightning, which they said has made Salesforce applications' UI far more user-friendly.
The Health Cloud, which Salesforce announced on the eve of Dreamforce, targets the healthcare industry and aims to bring siloed patient data together to improve patient relationships. However, the Health Cloud is ambitious in scope, promising to stitch together data from legacy healthcare systems. But this kind of data integration has been a bugbear even in industries in which CRM systems are well-entrenched, such as retail, so healthcare may pose an even steeper challenge.
Wave, the Salesforce Analytics Cloud, still needs to establish its street cred among a wider base of users. While some companies welcome its business-friendly data visualization features and speed of implementation, many others are still heavily invested in other analytics tools and need to figure out where Wave fits in to their plans.
Finally, the IoT Cloud presents opportunities to corral and digest massive volumes of product and customer data, but it's a major undertaking that will take infrastructure and other adjustments for many companies.
Ultimately, Salesforce's moves at Dreamforce 2015 signal that the cloud-based CRM provider is moving well beyond its roots, though CRM remains at the core. Time will tell whether this expansion bolsters its foundation or extends CRM too far afield.
For more Dreamforce conference news and trends, check out our roundup below.
Dreamforce is a time for Salesforce customers to share ideas of how to solve their business problems with technology. But best practices on how to fix CRM issues are more than just talk; they need to be applied in the real world to show their value. Companies struggle with such problems as connecting customer data silos, improving sales performance, getting more efficient with their processes and searching for ways to engage their customer bases.
Companies struggle to link digital sources of data to serve customers more effectively. Continue Reading
Lexmark International Inc. uses FinancialForce.com software to handle its business process management needs, which weren't being met by using Excel and email. Continue Reading
Salesforce customers in large, older organizations say the cloud has made some problems of the past -- such as on-premises nightmares -- disappear. Continue Reading
Learn how one company integrated its SAP ERP system with a Salesforce CRM system to get more consistent data to its sales reps. Continue Reading
Digital transaction management aims to make businesses more efficient by going paperless and getting more efficient, automated, accurate and secure with their documents. Continue Reading
The Dreamforce 2015 conference was marked by Salesforce's commitment to tackling new industries with offerings including the IoT and Health Clouds but also by customer re-evaluation of older services. A year after their releases at Dreamforce 2014, Salesforce's Analytics Cloud, known as Wave, and its application-development platform, Lightning, still face adoption challenges among users. The conference also signaled the start of a deeper relationship between Salesforce and Microsoft, which could open doors for the IoT Cloud.
Companies using Community Cloud can now embed Buy or Add to Cart buttons to a community page to facilitate sales. Continue Reading
The Salesforce Analytics Cloud, or Wave, has encountered some company successes, but also more tepid response than expected. What's holding it back? Continue Reading
A year after they were released, users are still questioning whether Salesforce Lightning and Wave are worth the investment -- both in money and time to get acclimated to the new platforms. Continue Reading
Salesforce's move into healthcare CRM is a logical step, say experts, but one that is also fraught with interoperability and integration challenges. Continue Reading
Service Cloud Lightning Console is designed to provide businesses with more personalized customer service actions. Continue Reading
Salesforce introduced a more robust version of Group Edition, catering to SMBs that want to dabble in business intelligence as well as core CRM functionality. Continue Reading
Integration of Salesforce Lightning with Microsoft's Office 365 signals a new era of interoperability for the two rivals as both aggressively move into the Internet of Things space. Continue Reading
Salesforce is tapping key partners to pilot the new IoT Cloud and the results of the trials will mean a lot to the platform's success. Continue Reading
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Reactions and discussions
From the Internet of Things (IoT) to data analytics and creating their own applications, Salesforce customers had a lot to talk about at the Dreamforce 2015 conference. Salesforce's new IoT Cloud was a hot topic at the show as users explored whether the platform, which aims to connect billions of data points from many different Web-connected devices, made sense for their businesses. One year after their release at last year's conference, Wave, or the Analytics Cloud, and the app-creation platform Lightning got upgrades in advance of this year's show and were met with some mixed reactions. Companies also shared their stories of how overcoming data challenges and moving to the cloud helped streamline their business processes.
A Salesforce executive outlines what to expect in the IoT Cloud, including how it connects data from devices, how businesses can modify it and what the future could hold for the platform.
A consultant talks about Salesforce's foray into the Internet of Things but warns that IoT's hype is exceeding its adoption.
Excitement is building over the Internet of Things, but companies need to think about how they will handle a massive influx of data before they commit to a strategy.
Before companies worry about the cost of venturing into an Internet of Things strategy, they need to tackle the issue of how it will help them provide better customer service.
Salesforce aims to provide users with a single platform to run their businesses. How do Wave and Lightning play into that ideal?
Salesforce's Analytics Cloud is poised to democratize analytics with a more streamlined feel, says one Salesforce partner.
Salesforce plans for Wave to be more interconnected with the rest of its products, starting with the Sales and Service Clouds.
Despite involving a learning curve and needing development work, a Salesforce admin says the app-creation platform, Lightning, makes CRM more user-friendly.
Salesforce wants to help startup companies navigate technological challenges and provide them with resources to solve their CRM issues.
For salespeople to work efficiently, they need a user-friendly, connected platform that puts CRM processes into action, says a Salesforce partner.
Credit report website Quizzle uses the Salesforce Marketing Cloud to map the customer journey with customer data and context.
It's not a question of whether financial data should move to the cloud but about getting the most out of that data.
By using the Sales and Service Clouds, monthly fee-based airline Surf Air aims to track prospects, hone in on their preferences and upsell them to grow the business.