While the usual Salesforce administrator’s contingent showed up in full force, a new group has been added; senior-level executives. As Salesforce.com broadens their capabilities, the nature of the conference has shifted to become business, sales and marketing focused, generating more high-level attention. I participated in more conversations from business people talking about taking advantage of the CRM than in years past when talk circled around technical improvements, integration and usability.

A lot of talk also surrounded the business applications of Salesforce and many conference-goers suggested they change the company name – which refers solely to its cloud-based CRM capabilities – to a name encompassing the cloud platform technology they now have.

Another hot topic at the conference was the growing emphasis on social engineering. Internal business dynamics are changing and that influences time-tested old processes including forecasting, reporting, and CPM. Businesses are social entities, budgeting is a social process, and perhaps the future of FP&A looks more like a social act than merely a function inside a business.

Salesforce.com did a great job presenting case studies of organizations integrating other systems into Chatter for social benefits. One such case study, GE Jet Engines on out-putting information on system performance with results streaming on Chatter, served to demonstrate the value and progress that can be made with out-of-the-box thinking and social integration. Salesforce also highlighted Burberry’s virtual store, celebrating social interaction around retail sales. These case studies, and their broadened audience base, both provide clues to where Salesforce is trying to go: transforming the traditional CRM-as-a-sales-tool to become a social internal enterprise with external reach (such as Starbucks “My Starbucks Idea and Dell’s IdeaStorm.)

All in all the messages at Dreamforce were powerful. When you go to that conference, you will walk away very fired up and inspired to take ideas gathered and put them to use within your own organization. I’m still drinking the Kool-Aid, and serving it to those in my office who didn’t make the trip. Looking forward to next year!

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