Tagged: Benioff

by Adrian :: 7.12.10

Dreamforce Day 1: Top 5 learnings

Today was always going to be a low-key day as it’s the run-up to Benioff’s opening keynote on Tuesday (have you registered to watch the live webcast – I’ve travelled five and half thousand miles for it- trust me, it’ll be worth it).

Although today’s event I attended called Cloudstock is primarily targeted at the developer community, I still learnt  enough to share 5 things:

1. There is nothing that prepares you for the scale of an event of this size.

Close to 30,000 people are expected to have registered to attend Dreamforce and everything works and works like clockwork (everything except the WiFi that is). When first arriving, I didn’t have to queue when registering. I walked up to a terminal entered my email address – my badge was printed and I then walked up to a materials issue desk where my badge was scanned and I was handed all the bits I needed.

2. Salesforce.com *is* truly disruptive and they’ve put a few noses out of joint:

Out on the street outside the conference venue there are warring factions. I first saw this tweet from Marc Benioff

Microsoft can run anti-salesforce WSJ ads, protest our cust events, and even sue us. But they can not stop the cloud. The force is with us!

Stepping out for some fresh air I was nearly knocked over by a Microsoft Segway slamming the Salesforce.com cloud and promoting some crazy Microsoft alternative. Oracle had placed huge posters in windows of surrounding buildings claiming to be the #1 CRM solution. Benioff (who came from Oracle) returned the gesture with a placards claiming that “30,000 attendees at Dreamforce can’t be wrong”  I’ll get some of this action on camera tomorrow. That edgy, disruptive feeling  made me feel it was worth traveling so far.

3. You need to have reliable and robust internet connectivity to work in the cloud

I watched both Google and Salesforce.com flounder yesterday in their demos (poor chaps) when even their cabled internet access wobbled – in fact it stopped working for a large part of their sessions. This is just such a deal breaker: its the greatest threat to Cloud adoption and because the internet backbone is so weak outside the major cities in the UK it can’t really promise a revolution to off-premise working (yet one hopes) It felt staggering that we suffered so many outages at an event in San Francisco organised by the people who claim to be leading the Cloud Revolution: not a great example

4. Advantages of scale, speed and cost

Developing applications in the cloud now allows large and small enterprise to deploy scalable, custom built software solutions quickly and cost-effectively. I’m not a developer and a lot of what I heard went straight over the top of my head (especially the contined use of acronyms) but I have a firm grasp that this wave of change is here to transform small business and we need to grasp it with open arms as it will be a great differentiator and enabler: very, very exciting.

5. The UK didn’t go completely unnoticed.

I am definitely one of the few delegates from the UK. The event is awash with friendly event staff who are around to help you with anything you need: and they love our accents (they don’t notice that mine still has a bit of a South African twang to it)

Tomorrow is a big day: Benioff’s keynote (we’ve been told to take in snacks as he likes to talk!) – and then the Gala Party featuring Stevie Wonder – between that its going to be packed with learning, networking and lots of thinking… in the cloud.

PS: If you can’t figure out what’s on the small billboard in the above photo – click here

by Adrian :: 6.12.10

My questions for Dreamforce

Over 27,000 cloud computer enthusiasts are congregating in San Francisco this week. We’re being hosted by Marc Benioff the Founder and CEO of Salesforce.com at a conference called Dreamforce. Benioff has grown Salesforce.com from a startup in a rented apartment into the world’s fastest growing software company in less than a decade.

A few months ago, I was at the Royal Festival Hall where Benioff presented to a circa 2,000 head audience in a London gathering called CloudForce at the  Royal Festival Hall. In the Youtube clip below he says:

As we’ve travelled around the world in the last 12 years our message has been clear: Cloud computing is the future. The first time I came to London I did not play at the Royal Festival Hall- and I think there were about 4 people that showed up – two of them were lost and the other two came for the free food!

There are a few things I’m hoping to figure out at Dreamforce
1) Is, as Benioff evangelises, Cloud Computing and more specifically Salesforce.com really for companies of any size? My experience is that SMEs in Europe are battling to afford the per seat charges that Salesforce.com expect. Is pricing the barrier and what is the extent of customisation. I advised a big-budgeted financial services company (with 800 employees globally) who were looking at Salesforce.com and, disappointingly, they couldn’t afford it.
2) Are the hurdles in the European race to Cloud Computing higher than our compatriots’ in the US? Firstly there’s the culture, fear and lack of understanding. Secondly there’s the bandwidth issue in the UK – working in the cloud can’t be achieved on bandwidth speeds that most of the population outside the major cities have to settle for. Why are we Europeans slower to adopt new technologies?
3) At Cloudforce London, Benioff promised a UK data centre in 2011 – but is this enough to alleviate worries about data being transported across borders. I need to understand more.
4) How easy and feasible is it for SMEs to custom develop applications on the force.com platform and is this something on which I should be looking to skill up?

Of course I’m also looking forward to hearing President Bill Clinton’s address and Stevie Wonder sing at the Gala concert on Tuesday night. For those who won’t be here you can register to watch Benioff’s keynote online on Tuesday afternoon European time. It’s really something you won’t regret.