Dreamforce, Salesforce.com’s annual conference in San Francisco where it’s also headquartered, kicks off Tuesday, Sept. 25 with a major news announcement and a keynote address by CEO Marc Benioff later in the afternoon. The conference is expected to attract more than 170,000 people over its four-day run.
Salesforce has been making a series of smaller announcements leading up to Dreamforce, including last week’s news of Einstein Voice that lets sales managers dictate memos and navigate cloud service with voice commands.
Now the big news is Salesforce Customer 360, an ambitious attempt by the customer relationship management (CRM) leader to give its users a unified cross-channel customer experience.
Customer 360 is designed to be easy to use with a click-based admin interface. “This is a new approach where whatever system you use in Salesforce you will get an up-to-date understanding of the customer across those systems,” Ron Pereira, senior director of product marketing at Salesforce, told eWEEK. “Our vision is to give a unified experience with a single place where admins can securely and in a trusted fashion connect to Salesforce and control the data and events across systems and get a complete view of the customer.”
As part of the new service, Customer 360 ID will give companies a complete, up-to-date, contextually relevant profile of every customer. There will also be prebuilt Customer 360 packages for Service, Marketing and Commerce that will give companies the ability to quickly create cross-channel customer experiences.
Traditionally, different parts of a company have different records and a distinct understanding of who each customer is. Someone who signs up for a newsletter via an email pitch from a consumer products company is not necessarily known to that company’s e-commerce site when they decide to buy or inquire about products.
“Customer 360 will help companies move beyond an app or a department-specific view of each customer by making it easier to create a single, holistic customer profile,” said Pereira.
451 Research analyst Sheryl Kingstone lauds Salesforce for moving the needle forward on an issue she said companies have been trying to solve for decades.
“I do believe Salesforce is the most advanced of the CRM vendors trying to solve this puzzle, and the low-hanging fruit is cross-cloud integration and also using MuleSoft to connect to other enterprise data as well,” Kingstone told eWEEK.
Salesforce acquired cloud integration and infrastructure-as-a-service pioneer MuleSoft back in March for $6.5 billion.
One example of how a more unified cross-channel experience would work with Customer 360 is when a customer abandons the online shopping cart at an e-commerce site powered by the Salesforce Commerce Cloud. That abandonment event could automatically trigger an action like adding that customer to a campaign run in the Salesforce Marketing Cloud that offers discounts on the products abandoned in their cart.
But Salesforce could be nine months or more away from delivering Customer 360; the company said it will be available sometime in the second half of 2019. A small group of customers is piloting a test version. Analyst Kingstone sees no problem with the pre-announcement because it will help keep customers who might be considering another CRM from moving.
“It’s not going to change anyone’s decision because no one else has the comprehensive solution Salesforce is working on,” said Kingstone. She also believes Salesforce needs to add some of its AI-powered Einstein software to Customer 360 to make it more accessible.
Apple and Salesforce Team Up
Salesforce also announced a strategic partnership with Apple to create native mobile iOS apps with features exclusive to Apple’s mobile platform such as Siri Shortcuts, Face ID and Business Chat. There are also plans to release a new Salesforce mobile software development kit (SDK) for developers and a new iOS App Development course on Trailhead, Salesforce’s educational platform for mastering different aspects of the CRM platform.
The first products to emerge from the partnership are the native Salesforce iOS apps for business and the Salesforce Mobile SDK that is optimized for Apple’s Swift programming language. The native SDK will let businesses and developers build and deploy apps for the iPhone and iPad on the Salesforce Lightning Platform.
Apple is launching a Get Started with iOS App Development Trail (a course in Trailhead) designed to teach anyone how to build native iOS apps in Xcode with Swift.