In the weeks leading up to Dreamforce 2014, you will undoubtedly read many posts about how Dreamforce has impacted attendees. It is fair to say that since its inception, the conference has not only grown in size but also in its impact on users. Last year over 100,000 people attended the week long event in San Francisco, filled with people from every imaginable industry. There were partners, clients, vendors, as well as Salesforce employees looking to share as much as they could about the product road map and how to leverage the platform. Everyone sets their own agenda according to their needs and if they are lucky (and quick) they are able to register for their top session choices.
For me, 2013 was the first year I was able to attend Dreamforce and I must say I had no clue what to expect. Sure I asked veteran team members, “Where should I go? What should I see? How do I maximize my experience?” More often than not I heard the same answer: See as much as you can and enjoy the experience because it will be over before you know it.
I set up my agenda, packed my bags and thought I was ready to go. Everything quickly changed when I arrived in San Francisco. When I witnessed the sheer grandeur of this conference, I knew I would miss things and that would be okay. Once I accepted that inevitability, I realized what truly made this event special. The people attending and the personal experience they brought to share.
Although I spent many hours on the Dreamforce agenda builder arranging and rearranging my sessions once the event began most of that went out the window. Cloud for Good was one of the partners that had a booth in the Nonprofit Zone so my first responsibility was to man the booth. I was okay with that as just being there was enough at the moment. Four hours later the truth washed over me like a sea breeze. Like with most things when you are working with Salesforce, what sets it apart is the community. People from all walks of life all over the world coming together to share their experiences. In those four hours I realized that I would spend the entire week meeting as many people and hearing as many stories as I could about how people are using the platform to improve their process, organization and better achieve their mission.
I recall speaking to one administrator that was finally able to convince his nonprofit to finally send him to Dreamforce. He told me how his organization started using the platform to manage a simple list of volunteers at first. Soon after they began using Salesforce they quickly started having, what I like to call, “ah ha” moments. They started realizing that many engagements were being tracked by spreadsheets, or various other chopped up tools, so their data was inconsistent and lacked any real value.
They decided to start bringing in all of their systems to the Salesforce platform. Fundraising, events, programs… each had their own level of complexity but the end result was clear. Having a 360 degree view of their constituent engagements was paramount to them. They realized that a large population of their donors were also active volunteers. Once this became clear, they were able to begin incorporating that data to make sure that donors and volunteers were recognized appropriately.
I have never been surrounded by so many people genuinely invested in leveraging technology to achieve their mission and change the world. Surrounded by industry leaders, innovators and experts… at the end of the day, for me at least, the true value was getting listen to end users. This year I am looking forward to meeting new people who are doing new things with Salesforce and utilizing all of the new functionality provided since last year. Hopefully I will make some new friends, see some familiar faces, and hear a host of new stories. I for one can’t wait!
If you would like to read more blog posts about similar topics make sure to visit our post about the benefits of attending Dreamforce, our post about how awesome the Salesforce Community is and a blog post about how our CEO and Founder had his life changed when he first attended Dreamforce.