From the moment you arrived at the Excel London centre for the Salesforce World Tour, you felt as if you had been transported into one of California's world-famous national parks.
One could really get a sense of the grand theme of 'TrailBlazers', which was clearly visible throughout the event. At the main reception area, for example, there were Salesforce staff members dressed up in Park Ranger uniforms, guiding attendees through the registration area for quick processing. In the various halls and auditoriums, there were also campfires, mini forests, bears, goats and much more all on show.
After registration, you were immediately drawn to the Customer Success Expo hall. This was the main area and contained most of the product demonstration stands and presentation theatres. Before and after the keynote speech, this hall was swamped with people, so if you wanted to view a presentation or demo, you had to arrive early to be in with a chance of getting a decent viewing spot.
One slight drawback was the noise levels. As hall was packed with many presentations taking place at the same time, the cacophony of sound from other areas and the general hustle and bustle made it difficult at times to hear the presenters speak. That said, the presentations were communicated professionally and all had impressive slide decks.
The big session of the day was the "Become a Trailblazer" opening keynote which was delivered by Salesforce Chief Marketing Officer Simon Mulcahy. The keynote itself was a highly polished, well-delivered presentation that combined a number of highly visual slides with slick customer testimonial videos.
From a marketing perspective, Salesforce really delivered on the storytelling front. In my opinion, the overarching message from the keynote is that Salesforce is trying to transform and simplify the customer experience across every channel and touchpoint. And at the heart of it all is Einstein, Salesforce's AI platform. This was clearly evident in their showcase example of how Salesforce integrated with Centrica's 'HIVE' thermostat - see video below.
Another key message expressed throughout the day was the growth of the 'Internet of Things' (IoT) and how smart appliances can lead to better customer service and customer satisfaction.
This was again highlighted in a Salesforce for Service session with a video showcasing how Coca-Cola uses Salesforce Service Cloud to manage their B2B bottling service and delivery process - see video below. In the live demonstration, the concept was presented of a Coca-Cola fridge notifying a Coca-Cola account agent and shop owner of when the stock was running low. Using Einstein, the agent could send an order to the owner, but also recommend that they should resupply with mostly Coke Zero, as this was their customers' preferred drink of choice.
The demo then went one step further, highlighting the growing importance of IoT by conveying the idea that when a fridge is about to break down, it can preemptively notify a service agent who can send a technician to fix the issue. Also, on the customer side, the shop owner could access a community cloud that could present the recommended information and articles based on how to fix common issues with their appliance.
Back in the Customer Success hall, there was a constant stream of demos, workshops and partner presentations. At the Einstein field station, they were informative demos of Einstein for Sales, Marketing, Services and Community. At the Outpost Theatre, there a were a number of excellent marketing presentations which provided top tips for 'B2B & SMB Marketing Trailblazers'.
A number of the Pexlify team made their way over to the busy 'Developer Forest' area. Here, there were various presentations and workshops around 'Application Composition with App Builder', 'Process Automation with and without code', 'Artificial Intelligence with Einstein', and 'Lightning Component design' to name a put a few.
There were also quite a few interesting presentations in the Auditoriums. The 'Salesforce for Developers' session demoed a new piloted experience for developers called 'SalesForce DX'. With Salesforce DX, developers can benefit from modern collaboration technologies, such as Git, to version control everything across their team - code, org configuration, and metadata. Developers can create dedicated scratch orgs to test code and send pull requests that trigger automated integration tests via Heroku Pipelines and Heroku CI. As soon as tests are passing, you can merge your branch, build packages, and deploy to a staging sandbox for final testing.
As this was my first visit to the world tour, the event itself was an eye-opening experience. I was blown away by the sheer size of the event, with thousands of staff members, customers, partners, etc. all moving around the various halls. Salesforce is truly an Enterprise Goliath and from a Pexlify point of view, it was great to meet with many clients, partners and friends at such an event.
Due to the large crowds, there were still a few issues - long queues for the keynote, small 'theatres' with hordes of people surrounding them, noise issues, etc. However, these are only minor issues and the positives greatly outnumbered any negatives.
After a long day and tired feet, it was nice to take some time out at the end to enjoy some food, drink and network with some of the attendees. Plus, there was plenty of free food and beverages to keep everyone happy.
Thanks again Salesforce, and see you all again next year!