My Very First Dreamforce Experience

Mc Hammer at Dreamforce
From the moment @Benioff tweeted that that we needed to arrive early for the Dreamforce 2012 keynote, it was obvious that this was not going to be a typical technology conference. And as someone who had never attended Dreamforce before, I really wasn't sure what to expect. The line at 7:30 reminded me more of a football game or a July 4th celebration than a tech conference.

To start: the mood. Somewhere between a rock concert, a political rally, and a gigantic reality tv show. The tunes were great, the dancing mascots were entertaining, and then...everyone in the room had two, three, or four devices. And they all stopped what they were doing when MC Hammer took the stage.

The initial entertainment over, the real show began. As Peter Coffee, Dreamforce MC put it, "We don't accept a division between being social and being productive." The message: being in business requires being social - and here were some great stories to prove it.

Second: the customers. From fan films from @darthgarry to testimonials from small and large customers alike, it was clear that the overarching value on display was customer success. It was really cool to see the stories of individual businesses using Salesforce products to provide differentiated and customized experience to their customers. Benioff made thanking the customers and "walking through a door together" the theme of the week.

Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry at DreamforceAnd the keynote itself was awesome. Benioff's Dreamforce keynote combined special guests, product introductions, and a folksy charm combined with tightly-scripted, professional-grade quality production. He effortlessly combined walking in the aisles, sharing statistics about the industry, and performing a call and response with the crowd about the power of the social revolution and the ability to connect with customers in a whole new way.

"Have you transformed the way you innovate?" -Marc Benioff.

The biggest idea here is one of changing the way that you work - not only by getting great examples of stories that successful companies tell us about themselves, but also by extending the activities and processes that engage customers - and making them available to those customers in the way that they want to be contacted. Results (and results for both the customers and for the business) are the currency of success. Without these results, the action for these companies of using social, mobile, and local would not be effective.

As a newly minted Salesforce employee, as an attendee at Dreamforce for the first time, and as someone who enjoys a great show, I enjoyed the presentation and the content. But there was more here - that the company is living and extending its values through products, actions, and engagement - and it culminated for me in the idea that Benioff shared that "the social revolution is a trust revolution."

Customers (and companies) that share this vision and who work in this way are making software disappear by bringing the capabilities of software and service directly into the relationships people have with each other. And it's making the software that we produce and the relationships that we build better.

I'm looking forward to Dreamforce Day 2 and what surprises are in store!