Dreamforce 2008 – Worldwide Salesforce.com Users Conference and Expo

I attended the recent Salesforce.com Users conference last week which is now aptly called Dreamforce. Aptly because the overwhelming theme this year, was the ‘Cloud’ and I suppose most dreaming takes place in the clouds.

It’s a gathering that attracts almost 10,000 which is held in San Francisco. This is my second trip there, but the first as an attendee, and in particular for their Partner Summit. The perspective as an attendee is certainly a different one for me, running from one session to another, makes exhibiting actually seem like a breeze.

Salesforce.com marketers rank among some of the best in B2B marketing, and the best practices sessions were very good. These marketers know how to run campaigns, and measure everything. Email marketing is assumed, and marketing automation like ActiveConversion is quickly being adopted. Aggressive doesn’t even describe the kind of energy that the marketers here exude. You wouldn’t want to be marketing against these guys, unless you’re a Salesforce.com marketer as well.

With over 220+ booths, and a packed schedule, it was hard just to get 2 hours in to do the expo justice, as aisle after aisle of Salesforce.com AppExhange partners hustled their SaaS offerings. AppExchange partners integrate their offering with Salesforce.com to produce marketing automation solutions, hosting, integrated email, data cleansing etc. You name it, and it was probably here. Award for the newest innovation at the expo from me goes to Zuora, which is a billing platform for Appexchange partners.

Force.com, which is their platform for creating applications in the cloud, is still a primary focus. I was at the introduction last year, but now I’ve seen and met people actually on it. It has traction, if for no other reason than Microsoft, IBM, Google or anyone else really has a platform for Cloud Computing. Microsoft has announced, but without a credible presence in SaaS, they will need to do some catching up.

There didn’t seem to be much Canadian representation at the expo, except for the CRMfusion guys from Toronto who do a great job of data cleansing with their product. I did meet a number of Canadians that were attendees. Ian Hayes of Breakeven Solutions was particularly noteworthy, as he runs a company that helps non-profits (exclusively) use Salesforce.com effectively. A great idea, and in a way, a great cause.

There were 3 keynote speeches, each taking 2 hours by Marc Benioff (Salesforce CEO), Michael Dell and Malcolm Gladwell (Tipping Point). And the ‘Global Gala’ featured the Foo Fighters for 2 hours of classic rock. An absolutely packed agenda.

A lot to Dream in 2.5 days. But if you ever get the chance, and particularly if you’re a Salesforce.com user, it’s well worth going.