Two announcements marketers need to know from Dreamforce

Expansions of existing Salesforce platforms that focus on CRM and voice stand to have the biggest impact.

Dreamforce is an annual conference from CRM and sales software giant Salesforce, which has grown to a massive scale in recent years. Amid the announcements about new cloud services and its service centre integrations – and a second year of protests over the company’s ongoing work with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection – it can be easy for marketers to lose sight of the products and services that will have the greatest impact on the way they do their jobs. Luckily, in a time when one-to-one marketing and voice are among the top things on a marketer’s mind, the biggest announcement’s at this years conference were conveniently focused on those two areas.

Finding “the holy grail of CRM”

Last year, Salesforce promised to offer a fully unified customer view when it launched Customer 360, a platform that pulls in data from across sales, service, marketing, commerce. This year, it is attempting to build on the promise with the launch of Customer 360 Truth, which provides “a single, trusted place that brings together all the customer data,” which it calls “the holy grail of CRM.” The new set of services – and an “enhancement” of existing ones – includes Customer 360 Data Manager, which access and connects data from both Salesforce and third-party systems to create a unique ID for each customer. This allows one function, such as marketing, to make decisions based on data from another, such as sales, as well as deliver more personalized experiences by connecting data across different consumer touchpoints and internal systems.

The new services also include Salesforce ID for Customers, which provides a single login across a company’s different sites and services; Customer 360 Audiences, a platform that combines known, first party data with “unknown data” like website visits and device IDs to identify customer segments; and Data and Governance, which helps manage customer privacy preferences across platforms and better manage compliance with data regulations. All of the services have integration with Einstein, Salesforce’s AI platform.

Patrick Stokes, EVP of platform shared services at Salesforce, says what makes the system different is that – in a time when organizations are focused on “de-siloing” data – Customer 360 Truth doesn’t pull everything into a “data lake”; rather, it leaves the data in the systems and with the departments that manage it, but creates a map so the correct data can be properly accessed at the right time, across an organization.

Giving voice a bigger role in the workplace

The other major announcement also built on a project from last year: a suite of expanded capabilities for Einstein Voice, with a specific focus on its role in the workplace.

Einstein Voice was announced with two main services: allowing customers to build voice bots using data stored on Salesforce, and an assistant for marketing and sales staff to enter data through voice, instead of typing. The latter is where the  focus was this year: Einstein Assistant will be expanded to cover any job function in any industry. The main way it is doing this is through new Einstein Voice Skills, which provide an interface for developers and team administrators to create custom, voice-powered apps for things like updating a field, creating a task or reading back a prediction and selecting the source for the data that informs each action. These apps can replace or enhance existing workflows by incorporating voice commands instead of data entry, as well as provide an automated read-back for info and insights, similar to how a home consumer might ask an Alexa or Google Home device for directions or weather reports.

Yakaira Núñez, director of product and user research, Einstein and analytics clouds at Salesforce, says the company has found that voice tech is at the point where it is more efficient than manually entering data, which leaves more time to interact with customers.