Oct 19, 2018
As an agency with its finger on the digital pulse, we’re always speaking at or attending the most innovative conferences and events each year. Our marketing team sat down with Group Account Director, Josh Hoekwater, following last month’s SalesForce DreamForce conference in San Francisco. Here’s his take.
What was your initial impression of Dreamforce?
Josh: The first thing that really strikes you about Dreamforce is the sheer size and scale of the event. I’ve been to user conferences and industry events in previous years either as an attendee or as a vendor, but I’ve never seen a conference completely take over a city. That said, while you definitely notice that you’re one of 170,000+ people, it’s amazing how efficient and intentional every element of the event is.
What sort of trends were highlighted at Dreamforce?
Josh: It should come as no surprise that a big theme for the conference was digital transformation. More specifically, nearly every member of the senior leadership team that I heard speak at sessions and keynotes reiterated that we are in the midst of the 4th industrial revolution—one focused on connectivity. And that was definitely a trend that was woven throughout the conference: keynotes and breakout sessions focused not just on a single product or single goal, but on how to connect different Salesforce products or tasks & capabilities within an individual product to provide a more seamless and connected experience to end users and customers. Also, not surprisingly, there was an emphasis on AI and how Salesforce, via their Einstein product (among others) is empowering that 360° view of the customer — again, to create more seamless and connected experiences.
What was the most eye-opening or remarkable thing about Dreamforce in your view?
Josh: Beyond the scale of the event, I think part of what makes Dreamforce so remarkable is how Salesforce really does practice what they preach. Their commitment to sustainability and the environment is present everywhere -- from refillable water stations, the free water bottle that was given out as swag and the recycling and compost bins everywhere (with all compostable containers for the daily boxed lunch) to the sessions focused on personal wellness and career growth. In addition to that, there’s the even more tangible element of how Salesforce is powering the event with their technology. The event app, which was essential for navigating the conference, was built using Salesforce Lighting with session recommendations powered by Einstein, and the list goes on.
What was the best session you attended and why?
Josh: As I’m quite new to the Salesforce universe, I felt like I was drinking from the firehose a bit; every session provided something new. I especially appreciated a number of sessions that included case studies or anecdotal observations from companies who were in the midst of comprehensive digital transformation within their organizations. But I think one of the better sessions I attended that provided a ton of really tangible and immediately useful advice was the session entitled “Implement Change: A Methodology for Success.” The presentation was delivered by two change management experts from Salesforce's vast partner network and they presented the ADKAR method as a way to move a team or an entire organization from a current state to a desired future state. I liked how the presenters broke down each step of the method and also provided practical examples or use cases. The presentation also contained some humor with the use of funny memes throughout, which, after 3 packed days of sessions and people, provided some levity.
What was the most fun you had at Dreamforce?Josh: San Francisco is one of my favorite cities, so I was just excited to be there. What a great backdrop for a massive conference like Dreamforce. And, I really enjoyed sharing a meal or a drink with Salesforce customers and partners as well as Salesforce employees from across a range of products. I especially enjoyed drinks with a couple of our Salesforce contacts at the View Lounge on the top floor of the Marriott Marquis. The view of the city and the bay is outstanding from up there and it was great to get to know our Salesforce partners better. Oh yeah, and I also took every opportunity to hit up Blue Bottle Coffee – sometimes twice a day.