We’ve scoured many reviews about the other week’s great Dreamforce event put on by Salesforce. Gary Honig (@GaryHonig) brought to our attention a great blogpost from an unlikely (from a private sector perspective) source: GovLoop, a social network for the government community to connect and share information. In this blogpost, “The Top 5 Things I Learned from the Biggest Tech Conference in the U.S.,” Mike Bernard (@Bernster) gives his take on the importance of Dreamforce.
Mike’s five points are succinct and important to reiterate, and we’ve thrown in a twist for Marketers:
1. The future of computing is mobile, social, and local.
So many commercial sites, especially B2B, are not optimized for mobile. They have no social opt-ins and no presence on leading social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook. And although by nature of the Internet, most B2B companies are global, there are still many which depend on an ecosystem local to their geography, yet do not project themselves well on the web in a local way. It is clear that was smartphones and tablets proliferate the consumer and business world, many marketers have catching up to do – people want content and information now, in the format they want, when they want it, and where they want it.
From the beginning of our blogging three years ago, we’ve emphasized that companies need to better emulate the U.S. military in how it gathers, stores, analyzes, shares, and acts upon data. Infantrymen are getting tablets and smartphones. Are your salespeople still using “clamshells” to communicate? Are they using social networks to find ways into prospect organizations and for getting wind of new opportunities? Do they leverage the power of “local” when it comes to building relationships, obtaining resources, and growing revenue?
2. Getting data out of traditional, on-site silos allows more flexibility with what you can do with that data.
If a satellite command kept its imaging capabilities to itself, it would not do the “boots on the ground” any good. The information from that imaging needs to be processed through a central command and distributed to those with the need to know. Like a sniper. Likewise, information gathered by marketing does the organization no good if it does not get processed and distributed to those with the need to know. Like a salesperson.
3. Speed and agility in implementation of new solutions is a must.
In recent years, our nation has been fighting an “asymmetrical” war against an enemy that adapts to pressure and exploits our weaknesses. As awesome as our aircraft carriers are, they are not the sole military solution for winning. Drones are examples of new, less costly platforms that can be adapted for multiple missions and are total game changers. As we have been converting from a “Cold War” mentality to meet this new challenge, there has been a paradigm shift for businesses too. The Internet has morphed into a “platform driven” environment and businesses must be able to quickly build tools upon that platform, and abandon them when better tools can be constructed. This is already happening with the constant churn of solutions within the Salesforce AppExchange. Any company that is avoiding any CRM system, let alone Salesforce,
4. Measurement and analysis are more important than they’ve ever been.
The branders and glorified event planners that have been running Marketing departments are scared of this; their creative backgrounds make them insecure about “number crunching,” but the fact is that every department in an organization needs to justify this existence and no better justification can be made than those with numbers to back them up. With technologies that bring contextual and sentient analysis data into the hands of business decision makers, there needs to be qualified people to manage and monitor the tools that perform this function. There is no turning back from this. No smart business leader will want their organization “flying without instruments.” Imagine taking accounting systems off line and not using them. No company would last long without chaos ensuing, resulting in a crash. The same will go for Marketing once these tools are adopted.
5. Those at the forefront of their industry need to continually evolve and improve or they will rapidly lose relevance.
This almost goes without saying. It is well known that of the original 1955 Fortune 500 companies, only about ten are still on the list – just two generations later. While many were acquired or went through significant structural and brand change, many simply lost their relevance or competence and ceased to exist. Clearly, those running companies, especially those making Marketing and Sales decisions, need to be aware that they cannot rest on their laurels. In 1970, Alvin Toffler‘s Future Shock came out and its message still rings true today: Many are incapable of psychologically handling the rapid pace of technological change and inherent sociological change that comes with it. The proverbial “buggy whip manufacturer” comes to mind. Could what you be selling be tomorrow’s – or even next month’s – buggy whip?
6. BONUS-Imagination and risk-taking is vital.
The real good news is that there are imagineers and risk-takers proliferating. The exhibit floor at Dreamforce was full of them, touting products that help companies adopt and succeed with the Salesforce platform. Actually, taking risks is necessary to minimally the status quo. Like a shark, businesses need to move forward to survive. But keeping the status quo makes you vulnerable to competitors around you who are taking risks. Marketing and Sales professionals must reject a complacent mentality and try new things.
On another note, we just want to remind everyone that of the hundreds of sessions at Dreamforce, the ones that filled up first were all Marketing Automation related. This is a great sign that Marketers, who came in droves and were among the 45,000 there, know that change is afoot and they have to keep up with it.
Thanks to Mike Bernard for his great talking points!