Notes from Dreamforce 2023: Trusted AI is the keyword

Columbia Road
5 min readSep 20, 2023

Dreamforce is Saleforce’s annual event, where professionals around the world come together to discuss the most interesting themes of the year. It’s surely no surprise that the theme of this year’s Dreamforce was AI, artificial intelligence. I got to join the event, which, according to Salesforce, was nothing less than the biggest AI event in the world! Here’s what I learned.

It all starts with trust

Salesforce as a platform has an advantage in bringing artificial intelligence into the everyday life of companies. And what I really appreciate is that Salesforce takes responsibility when it comes to AI. The word trust is most important in Salesforce solutions. In fact, Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, states that Salesforce is not interested in its customers’ data.

Trust is the basis of everything, and when companies can trust that the data they own stays with them, the range of possibilities of artificial intelligence is limitless.

AI and Salesforce

One of the goals of the Dreamforce trip was to understand and learn the concrete possibilities of artificial intelligence in marketing and sales. The second day of the event was successful in terms of the goal. In this year’s Dreamforce releases, Salesforce promised to concretise how the Salesforce platform and especially the now-released Einstein 1 Platform, can help in marketing, sales and customer service.

Simply put, Salesforce connects generative AI to its platform with the Einstein 1 Platform, where Data Cloud brings, connects and enriches all possible data.

I believe that, little by little, Salesforce users and end customers will be familiar with GPT. It will be used to give summaries, analyses, suggestions, and recommendations from proprietary data and to get ready-made sales meeting agendas, follow-ups, personalised marketing messages, even online store recommendations. Or, in other words, to sell better.

My guess is that now that generative AI is part of platforms like Salesforce, the use of artificial intelligence will explode, and there will be no going back. Probably, the leap in development between the 2023 and 2024 Dreamforce events will be the biggest ever, and it seems almost impossible to think about what’s next.

Use cases for AI in Marketing and Sales

I believe that in next year’s Dreamforce event, several of the bravest companies will use artificial intelligence in ways that have not yet been invented.

But there are tangible opportunities even now. Probable areas for utilising artificial intelligence are marketing, sales and the explosive development of customer experience personalisation — customers get exactly what they want and a little more effortlessly. For this, we’ve also thought about ways to encourage and start by experimenting and building know-how within the company.

Here are some examples of use cases of AI in marketing and sales:

Marketing

  • Fast campaign briefs: A marketing campaign (Journey) can be built using ready-made briefs generated by AI. In practice, artificial intelligence makes the first version of the campaign’s stages, channels and content.
  • Intuitive segment building: Artificial intelligence takes a more active role in planning customer segmentation and defining criteria. In the future, Einstein can recommend segments from all dedicated data, and the criteria are given using a prompt.
  • Scalable content: Perhaps the most interesting feature is where artificial intelligence even generates content images for marketing according to customer personas.
  • Automated Journey creation: Artificial intelligence suggests a Journey structure that varies according to the customer’s personality and segment.

Sales

  • AI-powered sales activities: The CRM user interface is changing so that the salespeople’s work tool shows customer-specific analyses and forecasts as well as suggestions on what to focus on in sales. I’m quite sure that during the next year, even in the Nordics, a growing part of the sales messages will be written by generative AI, personalised according to purchase history and behaviour, of course.
  • Meeting notes and conclusions: Artificial intelligence automatically collects by listening to online calls a memo of sales meetings and takes care of sending the message and sets the follow-up tasks of the discussions on the salespeople’s CRM task lists.
  • Forecasts: By learning about customers and sales, artificial intelligence will become better and better at suggesting what and how to sell better. Forecasting sales and focusing on the most valuable customers and opportunities will reach new levels with the help of artificial intelligence.

It all comes back to data

At Dreamforce, everything finally came back to data. The basis of Salesforce’s explosive growth is CRM. In other words, it’s the fact that the customer is at the centre of everything, and all other information is connected to the customer data.

The event’s third day reminded us that combining and enriching knowledge is the basis of all development. In the Salesforce ecosystem, Data Cloud will become even more important, if not irreplaceable, in the architecture of Salesforce customer companies.

The role of the Data Cloud in connecting data sources as part of CRM information will be even more important in tapping into the possibilities of artificial intelligence and even more as customer personalisation requirements grow. In practice, artificial intelligence needs for even more information to work as well as possible. AI recommendations based on CRM information alone are simply not enough.

The basis of the Einstein 1 Platform is that the Data Cloud enables information connection. If only in the last year, the role of the Data Cloud was seen as an integral part of the Marketing Cloud, now the possibilities of artificial intelligence connect the requirements, especially to the Sales and Service Clouds.

Data enrichment, integration, utilisation or artificial intelligence does not have to be a project that starts with the purchase of system licenses. AI is not an IT project. You can and should be able to validate all the possibilities by small experiments and changing the culture at the same time. When the business opportunities are clear, it is also safer to make an IT investment. Ultimately, artificial intelligence requires an environment that is scalable and cost-effective.

If you link these opportunities at Dreamforce to the issues that many Nordic companies are struggling with, the only thing that comes to mind is the data quality. Certainly, in many companies, the first comment on using artificial intelligence is the same: “We would like to try, but our basics are not in check. We have to get customer data right first.” Could artificial intelligence help here, too?

If you are looking to hear more insights from the world of digital commerce, make sure you also sign up to our live event in Helsinki in November!

Originally published at https://www.columbiaroad.com.

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Columbia Road

Nordic digital sales consultancy. We help companies get more revenue and more customers in the digital era.