Will Intelligent Tech Drive a Fourth Industrial Revolution? Salesforce’s CEO Explains What’s Coming

Marc Benioff kicks off Dreamforce with a flurry of customer success launches

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In the opening keynote address of Dreamforce 2017, Salesforce’s annual technology, marketing and customer relationship management extravaganza attended by nearly 172,000, chairman, CEO and founder Marc Benioff evoked a fourth industrial revolution based on intelligent technology driving the consumer journey.

Pointing to sensor-enabled tires, Coca-Cola coolers equipped with smart cameras, connected apparel from Louis Vuitton as examples of how the function and culture of commerce is changing, Benioff said, “that connected to me in a way that I never thought they’d be and they never thought they’d be.” He added that Marriott is making next generation customer connections beyond loyalty, “They know where I am in their community.”

“Behind all theses things is a customer and that’s what all of us do—connect with customers in interesting news ways,” he said.

Brand marketers are key players in Benioff’s vision of the future and he highlighted how three brands T-Mobile, adidas and 21st Century Fox are tapping into Salesforce’s evolving ever-expanding suite of services based on capabilities including AI, apps and more to inform companies’ digital sales, marketing and community transformations, as well as execute a shift to mobile marketing and commerce.

As part of the opening keynote, Salesforce introduced new services for the Customer Success Platform designed to tap into advances in personalization, online learning, artificial intelligence, productivity, mobile and IoT.

The new services include myTrailhead: an extension of its gamified online learning platform to customize companies learning environments with their own content and branding with a drag-and-drop user interface; myEinstein: Designed to allow developers of all skill levels will be able to build custom AI apps across Salesforce; myLightning: Helps business users build customized apps to achieve next level productivity in their Salesforce user experience with specific brand images, colors and page background images; mySalesforce: build and deploy highly-customized mobile apps with point-and-click tools and myIOT: helps leverage IoT data to create rules-based automation for any business process.

Salesforce also announced the Quip Collaboration Platform, which enables teams to collaborate faster and more interactively in one live document. And earlier in the day Salesforce and Google announced a new partnership to share data in order to provide more complete personalized marketing.

Finally, during the brand profiles, adidas announced the launch of a new app that uses Salesforce technology including Commerce Cloud.

“The new app helps us connect and create direct relationships with our consumers, inspiring them in their own journey with sport and style, while also offering the products and services they really want and need, when and where they want them,” said Joseph Godsey, adidas head of digital brand commerce, when announcing the app’s launch. “The app is an integrated part of the adidas digital ecosystem; it enables us to further evolve our business and ensure ecommerce continues as our fastest growing sales channel.”

Speaking in the round in a cavernous and packed conference hall in San Francisco’s Moscone Center, Benioff, known for his philanthropic work, also cautioned that this revolution isn’t without some concern.

“There is definitely some worry, is this technology uniting us or dividing us,” he said but pointed to the trailblazing (a common trait of high-performing clients and employees) as inspiring him to push for even deeper activations around education, gender and diversity, LGBTQ and environment issues.

“Business is the greatest platform for change,” he said.

Beyond keynotes by Benioff and former First Lady Michelle Obama, Dreamforce, which runs through Thursday, has 2,700 separate sessions.