A Tale of Two Conferences

 In Current Trends, Marketing Transformation

It’s been a busy month but I’m finally getting a chance to digest everything that I absorbed at both Dreamforce and MarTech East. Here is a roundup of themes that emerged at both conferences, each tackled with its own technology perspective.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

The future is now. Both events reference “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” which Wikipedia says “is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.” It encompasses so much of what we experience in the marketing technology world. We are all a part of this world that is innovating at such a rapid pace it’s hard to keep up.

Focus on the Customer

Dreamforce: Salesforce announced “Customer 360” which will “provide a click-based admin interface to easily connect and manage customer data across Salesforce apps”. This is exciting because it brings all of the disparate data into one view and provides the right data for service organizations to quickly respond to the needs of its customers. Although not necessarily for the Marketer (since it’s built for the Service org) it’s still all about delivering a great customer experience.

MarTechEast: Customer Data Platforms. (CDP) (Not to be confused with a ‘Data Warehouse’ – it’s much more.) How do you create that unified experience if you want to go beyond (or don’t have) Salesforce? Enter CDP. In layman’s terms, it’s a unified customer database that combines and cleanses multiple data sources to a single customer profile. It truly creates a ‘one source of truth’ scenario for Marketers. How many of you wish you could have all of your different customer records combined and cleaned and in one place? Sign me up! The takeaway here: there are so many vendors to choose from and unfortunately none stand out over the rest, the advice is to understand your business case well before making your selection. Don’t know where to start? Check out G2 Crowd for reviews.

Artificial Intelligence

Dreamforce: Einstein is Salesforce speak for AI. It’s woven into the CRM and makes Salesforce ‘smarter.’ I heard and saw Einstein everywhere I went in San Francisco. What I like most about Einstein is that Salesforce has ‘demystified’ AI by somewhat humanizing it. They have made it ‘friendly’ and less intimidating. They give practical examples for multiple scenarios by showing how Einstein helps every user of the CRM from Service to Sales to Marketing.

MarTechEast: AI is becoming less ‘conceptual’ and more prevalent throughout the marketing technology space. We saw it in the multiple break-out session topics: AI was everywhere. It’s used in chat-bots, predictive technologies, analytics and much more.

Robotic Process Automation

MarTech: Not to be confused with AI, RPA isn’t ‘machine learning’ but it can automate repetitive tasks using a set of rules to ultimately save time. We saw it in the keynote, where we were assured not to be afraid that RPA would take our jobs, but automate the mundane things that should be automated so we can focus more on creating better experiences for our customers.

Whether you go to a ‘something-for-everyone’ beast of a conference like Dreamforce, or a smaller, more marketing-focused event like MarTech, you’ll get a taste of what’s to come:

  • A rapidly moving technology led revolution
  • Integrated 360 views of customer data
  • Artificial Intelligence and RPA, the latest carrots, destined to make our lives easier

While these big ideas are definitely on the horizon (or maybe they are already here for some of you), it all boils down to creating meaningful experiences for your customer so let’s not forget the human aspect to all of the technology advances – we, as marketers, need to understand our customers and only then employ technology to aid in that customer journey.

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