Salesforce held its annual World Tour event in Sydney on March 21 at the International Convention Centre. It’s the first time the event has been back in Sydney for three years and it attracted more than 10,000 attendees keen to see what Salesforce had to offer.
Originally known for its CRM platform, Salesforce has been capturing increased market share of the relatively new “marketing tech” category with its Salesforce Marketing Cloud platform.
The day exhibited some exciting new products, key problems businesses are having were addressed, and insights were shared into the future of marketing technology.
Here are my five key takeaways from the event.
1. Artificial Intelligence is here
On display at the event was Salesforce’s new Artificial Intelligence (AI) product, Einstein. Launched last year at the Salesforce annual Dreamforce conference in September, it was incredible to see the capabilities Einstein has for businesses.
Integrated into the underlying data platform of Salesforce, Einstein provides insights, predicts outcomes, recommends the next best action and automates tasks across the full Salesforce stack (Sales, Service, and Marketing Clouds).
Like most tech companies, the demos are highly polished and seamless but the applications presented demonstrate how it can improve the effectiveness of the software. There’s also no doubt Einstein will help to bring the Salesforce clouds closer together. Watch out SAP, Oracle and IBM.
2. Be a customer success company
Salesforce has positioned itself as a “customer success company” for the last few years but at the event the company showed that this is more than just a tagline or advertising campaign. Salesforce demonstrated that it is continuing to acquire and develop platforms that are designed to help organisations get closer to their customer.
And that is a key focus for many c-level executives in Australia today. Key questions I hear all the time are, “How do we become more customer centric?” and “How do we create more value?”
Marketing plays a key role in this by implementing personalised, data-driven customer communications. However, ultimately it’s about delivering a consistent brand experience across marketing channels, as well as sales and customer service.
The brands that invest in the technology and capability to become customer centric will have a distinct competitive advantage over those that continue to focus on “batch and blast” marketing.
3. Technology is driving major organisational change
Many of the conversations I had over the day included how businesses are struggling with the implications of implementing marketing technology. There are some obvious challenges around introducing new skills and experience to drive the technology, but the problem is bigger than that.
The main questions I was asked were: “How do you align traditional business units with competing objectives and KPIs in a customer centric organisation?”, and “Who owns the customer data?”
The event really highlighted the common problems businesses are having in implementing marketing technology.
4. Data is core
Data continues to be a challenge for all businesses, and is central to their ambitions of becoming customer centric.
At the event, the Salesforce Marketing Cloud showed that its power is around implementing personalised communications across email, mobile, web and social. The event also highlighted that in order to execute highly targeted, and co-ordinated marketing across multiple channels, you need data. The more enriched it is, the better the business outcomes.
Salesforce also highlighted that data is the common thread that runs through Salesforce uniting its Sales, Service and Marketing Clouds for an improved customer (and employee) experience.
5. The best time to start is now
There’s a natural temptation for organisations to hold off investing in technology until everything is sorted, particularly data. The reality is it will never be perfect, as there is more data being generated every minute you delay.
And there is nothing like running activity to provide real results and learnings. You need a strategy, absolutely, but no amount of planning will replace the insights you get from execution. The longer you leave it, the further you fall behind.
Implement what you can as soon as possible, test and learn, and optimise. And then progressively introduce new data sources and capability as you go to enhance what you have.
Marketing is in a prime position to influence a brand’s success in this regard but it needs to work increasingly closer with IT, Sales and Customer Service, particularly as the technology forces greater integration.
Salesforce always puts on a great show, and seeing new tech like its Artificial Intelligence product Einstein is certainly aspirational for many brands as they work towards becoming customer centric.
Joel Norton is the CEO of Kalido, a customer experience firm combining analytics, marketing automation, web and mobile development and creative content. Kalido is the only Salesforce Marketing Cloud Platinum Partner in Asia Pacific, and is part of the IVE Group Ltd, an ASX-listed marketing communications company.