Salesforce’s Latest Product Aims to Create a Complete Customer Profile for Companies

But it’s already facing stiff competition

The news kicks off Salesforce's Dreamforce conference. iStock
Headshot of Ann-Marie Alcántara

Dreamforce, Salesforce’s annual conference, is starting off with a new product aimed at helping companies create stronger customer profiles.

Salesforce Customer 360 brings in data points from a variety of sources to create a singular customer ID on the Salesforce platform. The ID gives companies a more complete profile of who customers are and how they shop without having to comb through all the different customer-relationship-management data systems they use.

With the new tool, companies can bring in data points from other Salesforce products like Commerce and Marketing Cloud as well as any platform that works with MuleSoft, which was acquired by Salesforce earlier this year, like a point-of sale-system that also has data on a customer.

“Effectively, what we’re doing is creating a graph of who your customer is,” said Patrick Stokes, svp, product management, Salesforce. “Our mission with this product is we want to make it as easy as humanly possible to make our customer make it as easy to connect with their customer.”

Previously, with data only coming from one source, companies would see incomplete or outdated information about customers. Now, with Salesforce Customer 360 and all the different data sources combined, companies can see data like customers’ birthdays and what’s in their cart, all of which can then be used on the Service or Marketing Cloud to give customer-service agents a better view of whom they’re talking to and what they’ve bought in the past. Marketers can also use the data to trigger emails or other campaigns to target customers better.

According to Stokes, the whole point of Salesforce Customer 360 is helping brands “understand who the customer is” and to do that with “clicks, not code.” Of course, it’s also a pull for people to use more Salesforce products.

“You’ll get the most value of that ID when you connect multiple data sources and specifically when those data sources represent Salesforce products,” Stokes said.

The new feature comes a day after Microsoft, SAP and Adobe announced a similar data lake called the Open Data Initiative. The Open Data Initiative will let companies bring data “across systems” and use artificial intelligence to “gain a deeper understanding of your business.” The partnership means companies will be able to get a “single view of the customer” by exchanging data across Microsoft Dynamics 365, SAP’s C/4HANA and Adobe Experience Cloud. Unlike Salesforce Customer 360, this somewhat democratizes where and what platforms companies use to get the best outcome for their customers.

“We are partnering to change this status quo, unifying siloed data and enabling true end-to-end customer journeys,” said Patrick Salyer, general manager of SAP Customer Data Cloud. “By unifying data across multiple systems of record, businesses can deliver personalized, real-time experiences while dramatically reducing the costs of data consumption, transformation and management.”

Salesforce and Stoke, however, remain unfazed.

“Integrating data to better understand your customer is important, but what’s even more critical is turning that data into intelligent, personalized, cross-channel experiences,” Stokes said. “You need a proven CRM platform to do that, and that’s what we deliver with the combination of Salesforce Customer 360, MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform and deep integrations with partners such as Google and AWS.”

@itstheannmarie Ann-Marie Alcántara is a tech reporter for Adweek, focusing on direct-to-consumer brands and ecommerce.