Following up on my previous post, last week’s Dreamforce event at Moscone Center in San Francisco presented many learning opportunities for Customer Intelligence Professionals. While my work priorities and time constraints overall didn’t allow me to attend any of the sessions I had previously called out, I was able to be part of several other sessions where CI was clearly an underlying theme. (If anyone DID attend the sessions I recommended in my previous post…by all means please let me know how they went by leaving a comment!)

So…here they are – my top 5 Customer Intelligence takeaways from Dreamforce 2010:

  • Social CRM and analysis – Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn cannot be ignored from a CI perspective. Why? Your customers are here! Massive amounts of data are being contributed every second and this represents a vast source of insights into better targeting of marketing spend, enhanced customer profiling, and capturing real-time feedback of what’s working and not working. While aggregating these external social channels helps provide increased customer visibility, Social CRM solutions (like Salesforce Chatter – now with a free, org-wide version) provide an internal collaboration platform for bringing stakeholders together from various parts of the organization to share information. Pulling this internal intelligence together with enhanced external intelligence is…well…powerful!
  • Mobile – Everything is going mobile. In many ways it already has! No, surprise, right? Well, this seems to be the year that mobile intelligence is kicking into high gear. The synergies between device capabilities, network capacity, and software applications have evolved to a point where advanced functionality is now possible. Smart phones sporting Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, and Windows Phone operating systems are abundant . Slates add yet another dimension to this mix. 3G data coverage is widespread, while next generation networks such as 4G and Verizon’s LTE are growing. These foundational capabilities allow for mobile applications like Salesforce Mobile and Chatter Mobile which bring advanced intelligence such as drill-able dashboards and reports into the palm of your hand.
  • Integration (IaaS) – With data coming and going between many sources, bringing it all together in a meaningful way becomes a key challenge. Vendors such as Informatica, Cast Iron, and Boomi clearly realize this need and had a significant presence at Dreamforce. While each vendor has its own approach, the underlying theme is the ability to connect any system with another system, without needing to undertake a massive IT project…what I would call ‘accessible integration’.
  • Data in the Cloud (DaaS) – Many vendors are focusing on real-time connectivity to vast sources of account and contact intelligence. Jigsaw (now part of Salesforce), D&B 360, InsideView, and NetProspex are major players in this space. Instead of relying solely on ETL processes, these solutions connect live to data sources in either pull or push methods to deliver updated intelligence directly into Salesforce.
  • Database.com (DBaaS) – I saved the best for last! This was a huge announcement at last week’s keynote. Presenting a viable alternative to the enterprise databases we know and love, Database.com offers a scalable SaaS based platform in the cloud, without the need to provision a dedicated server, upgrade software, or (potentially) hire a DBA. Following on the successes of other SaaS based solutions, Database.com is definitely worth watching since it could offer many opportunities for rapid application development (coupled with Heroku), increasing the stickiness of the Salesforce platform by positioning it as a one stop shop.

While these top 5 Customer Intelligence takeaways jumped out at me above the rest, it’s impossible for one person to cover all the happenings at an event on the scale of Dreamforce. Please feel free to share comments about your own CI experience at Dreamforce 2010.

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