Back to School – Inspiration from Dreamforce

I admit, I have been neglecting this blog over the summer. It’s a combination of time spent writing elsewhere, a busy work schedule and a social media writers block as I figure out what I want to talk about next here and who I am on this blog. It’s the same story on Twitter, my Klout score has crashed!

So, as I took the kids for their first day back at school I resolved I too would return and whilst I was tempted to write a thrilling introspective of my social media writers block, I thought I’d kick off with a kick-off – Dreamforce.Seemingly the daddy of all customer day shindigs for the billions of happy Salesforce.com punters.

To be precise, I want to write about the  keynote, by Mark Benioff – CEO and Chairman.

Part of my writing angst has been to add something new to the excellent writing out there, so having picked this subject I probably need to warn you that I am unlikely new insights. While I am busy apologizing, I probably should point out that I wasn’t one of the fifteen thousand people who were in the room to witness it live.

Forgive me and get yourself over to the Salesforce YouTube channel, play it on your biggest monitor in full HD and hopefully you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

Firstly as an occasional public speaker, to see Benioff wander the room (yes, sure, probably heavily rehearsed and scripted – but none the less impressive for that) was a billion miles away from someone standing reading the slides and anyone who presents anything ever should take a look (however good you think you are). The occasional “Hey Bob, good to see you” as he strode the aisles or his little banter with the Cocoa Cola CTO might seem cheesy, but he owned the room. A room of fifteen thousand people. Nice.

Maybe that’s what one expects of your modern day CEO, but I was impressed – and content wasn’t too bad either.

The theme of the opening keynote was ‘Welcome to the Social Enterprise’ and you may be thinking “ho hum, yes – who isn’t talking about social?” and as he continues to speak perhaps you might think “Ah huh.. a reference to the Arab spring.. so, who isn’t referencing the Arab spring when it comes to social?”.

But, Benioff concludes his reference to the Arab spring with “No one ever held up a sign and said ‘Thank you Microsoft’” – yet the protestors during the Arab spring did thank Facebook.

BTW – If you’d like a reference to the protestors thanking Facebook wander over to Social Times.

Good point – nicely encapsulating why social is different from our progress from mainframes (and a handful of vendors), to the Microsoft desktop, through mobile to this social revolution.

Benioff continued on the Arab spring theme, talking about a “Corporate Spring” or “Enterprise Spring” – in that, in the social media age how will CEO’s face the challenge of employees and customers rising up?

Benioff also referred to the “social divide” – I was expecting a reference to the exclusion of folks that don’t have access to the Internet, but in fact it was about whether our enterprises are social. He referred to knowing more about people in social networks than his customers or employees, about the easy collaboration over social networks – compared to enterprise systems.

All this was a pre-amble to a product launch, but none the less, all good points about how folks like me that bang the web engagement drum, of engaging your web audience that we should forget the folks closest to us, our colleagues and employees.

The power of the connected consumers has been much discussed – but it got me thinking more about employees and how underrepresented employee engagement is in our discussions. Yet, we see examples of the value and influence of the individual employee on social media and it’s potential to overtake their pay grade. As much as we bang on about customer engagement – the damage an unengaged employee can do is probably far greater with a swift blow below the waterline.

Anyway there is plenty more in Benioffs keynote worthy of note as plenty of folks have err…noted. Benioff moves on to outlining three steps to the social enterprise and what the cloud really means. I’d encourage to watch the full thing. (Also, you can find a good live blog of the session on Enterprise Irregulars blog).

It’s at this point, like any good blogger I should cleverly reference back to the title – from a public speaking perspective I’m back to school, inspired I’m off to practice wandering amongst the relative handful or so people that might come to my next speaking engagement (please go along with it if I call you Bob, I’m terrible with names) and maybe I might try learning and rehearsing the content of what I’m planning to rabble on about…. you never know.

4 Replies to “Back to School – Inspiration from Dreamforce”

  1. WB Mr T ! – It’s always good to get off the hamster wheel from time to time 🙂 How long did it take for the shakes to die down and your concentration levels to recover? 😉 There’s certainly more to life than obsessing about Klout scores.

    Anyway, good to hear you’ve overcome your writer’s block. It is indeed getting harder to differentiate against all the noise out there and the fact that “opinions are like arseholes” as they say 🙂

    I must admit I’m bored of the SM/Arab Spring debates now but would certainly be interested in hearing your views about Sitecore being bumped up a level by RSG to the upper space occupied by SDL Tridion. The Danes versus the Dutch as I believe Irina has described it 🙂

    I’m also looking foward to the upcoming debate about Sitecore versus Drupal being chaired by your former colleague Scott next week. Presumably if Drupal and Sitecore are worthy of comparison and Sitecore is now deemed on a level with SDL Tridion it won’t be long before we are seeing Drupal/Tridion debates too?

    1. Yes James, your comments still need moderating – apologies it took me a couple of hours to approve. Thanks for your comment, shame it wasn’t about the subject of the the blog post though 🙂

      Tiers in this business are fairly arbitrary and reflect an understandable need for analysts specifically and commentators in general to make broad comparisons. We both know that a customers needs are more sophisticated than that and what is hugely important for a specific client could throw up a short list that would bring together unlikely bed fellows if one were to look at the these analysts lists. I recall a huge amount of discussion when RSG tried to justify and explain the tier system a few years ago.

      I like the way Forerster go about this, in terms of the way they are very clear about their criteria and show their working (as it were) and their customers can get access to the spreadsheets and tweak the rankings to better suit the needs of their business. Clearly they cover a fairly narrow band of vendors, but from a buyers perspective I can imagine this is a useful tool. (By the way, been a fan of this for years, prior to working for a vendor that tops the current wave).

      That’s not to say that I don’t respect the work of RSG and have pointed folks to their reports, I also respect what Sitecore are doing, the ‘bumping up’ comes hard on the heels of Forrester including them in the wave for the first time – at the cost of some previously established players. But, being in the same tier and being on the same short list are two different things – we’ve certainly seen that in the past with the Gartner MQ that had Oracle (pre-FatWire) in the top right, that left the industry scratching it’s head somewhat.

      I think what CMSConnected are doing is entertaining and whilst it is something relevant for us at CMPros (in the shape of Scott) to be involved with – I am not sure we can draw too many conclusions from that match-up, I think the debate will be more about open source vs commercial.

      However in a way I don’t really see the significance of these match-ups, folks that are looking to kick off a WCM project should absolutely look at all their options, listen to the analysts sure, but it’s ultimately down to their requirements.

  2. Oopps yes sorry – err ‘social enterprise’ and ’employee engagement’ – yep obviously important but I think organisations are really struggling to get their heads around Facebook style capabilities inside their operations as they are tough enough to deal with outside.

    Being a complete cynic, I always assumed Tridion paid a fortune to keep riding the top of the ‘Wave’ 😉

    Sounds like CMS Connected are pulling in some healthy audiences for these debates even if, as you rightly say, it always is and always has been about the requirements.

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