Day one saw Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff take to the stage to reveal a host of new announcements and release, including the following:
- Salesforce CEO: It’s time for a new view on AI
- Einstein Copilot is here to supercharge your Salesforce CRM with AI
- Salesforce unveils Einstein 1, the best way to make sense of all your data
- Salesforce and Google Workspace want to take your productivity to a whole new level
- Salesforce wants to make ESG reporting easier than ever
Good morning and welcome to our live blog covering Dreamforce 2023!
Salesforce’s annual conference is always a highlight of the B2B technology calendar, and we’re here in San Francisco to bring you all the news and updates.
So what are we expecting this year? Short answer…AI, and lots of it. Salesforce has always been at the forefront of AI innovation, so we’re expecting a whole heap of AI to help its customers around the world.
Today’s opening keynote is due to kick off at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm BST, and you can follow it live on the Dreamforce website here.
As usual, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff will lead proceeding, but we’re expecting a host of special guests, and for AI to play a central role.
Speaking of AI, we’ve already had a look at some of the big news to come out of Dreamforce this morning – the company has released Einstein 1, a supercharged AI platform that brings together data from all your various platforms to create intelligent and useful suggestions.
You can read our full article above, but the launch is a key indicator that AI is going to be a major theme at Dreamforce this year.
We’re seated and ready for the keynote, and it’s a typically Salesforce-y start to the date – ukelele music, Trailblazers in bright gold blazers, and Disney-esque giant mascots welcoming people in (Astro is always our favorite).
Half an hour to go…
As is tradition, we have the usual Hawaiian welcome – a very spiritual start to what will be a very tech-heavy morning…
After a brief introduction – and some music from none other than Dave Matthews, it’s time for the main event.
Following an intro video narrated by future Dreamfroce keynoter Matthew McConaghey, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff takes to the stage to rapturous applause from an adoring crowd.
“We’re going to have nothing but fun times over the next few days,” Benioff says, thanking everyone with the traditional Mahalo.
“We’ve been on these stages now for 25 years…there’s a lot of good days, and a lot of bad days…but we are deeply grateful for you,” he tells his employees.
Benioff says this is the most sustainable Dreamforce yet, with 74% of structures recycled or re-used.
He adds that Salesforce is the 3rd largest software company in the world – except in Japan, where it is #2.
Benioff notes that, “we’re inspired to see business is the greatest platform for change”- with the company still giving 1% of its equity, and contributing 8.3 million hours volunteering, as well as working with around 54,000 non-profits.
The company is also donating $20 million more to public schools in San Francisco and Oakland.
Benioff has some very funky cloud-themed sneakers (Converse?) on – he just marched right past us, acting out a story from his school days…
Here we go – it’s time to talk AI.
“We want to help our customers connect with their customers in a whole new way…but we recognise tehcnology is moving faster than ever…this data explosion, this burst of artificial intelligence – it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” Benioff notes.
“This AI revolution is going to change who we are…but it will bring us back to who we are.”
Einstein AI is already incredibly popular, he notes, as Salesforce is already the number one AI platform used around the world.
“Now we have to think about – what are we doing with this technology?”
When it comes to the AI opportunity – “there’s no question that this AI opportunity is going to change everything…or anything,” Benioff notes.
But Benioff recognizes there is an AI trust gap – noting that LLMs can turn toxic very quickly. “We recognise this is a phenomenal opportuniy for the future, some place we all want to work to get to.”
The solution – Einstein 1. “We want to built the trusted AI platform for customer companies,” he notes. Integrated, intelligent, auotmated, Einstein 1 works with low code and no code, built to be open.
“This is our life’s work – this is what we’ve been doing for 25 years,” Benioff notes.
Einstein 1 is open to all the Salesforce family, as Benioff notes it is Trailblazers who will help lead the AI revolution.
This will include major overhauls when it comes to skills training, and Salesforce is also investing $500 million Ventures fund for Einstein 1 innovators.
The AI revolution is a trust revolution, Benioff notes – “we have a very different narratvie when it comes to AI – we are not afraid to say things that other companies are afraid to say.
“Your data is not our product – that’s not what we do here,” he asserts, unlike a lot of other companies.
“Transparency builds trust…We all know what can happen is AI goes wrong – let’s keep it going in the right direction.”
With that, Benioff hands over the mic to Parker Harris, Salesforce co-founder and CTO.
He starts off by talking about how the company is going to keep your data safe – primarily through the new Einstein Trust Layer.
Primarily, this looks to keep information protected from unscrupulous LLMs, as well as keeping it safe from hallucinations or any other toxicity.
“In a way, this AI revolution is actually a data revolution,” Harris notes, “because the AI revolution wouldn’t exist without the power of all that data.”
You need to bring together these “islands of disconnected data” – and Einstein 1 Data Cloud can do this, connecting all your data inside Salesforce, integrating natively with Salesforce metadata.
Harris now digs a little more into Data Cloud – noting that Salesforce is partnering with nearly all top data lake providers to get hold of your data, then harmonizing it and powering it into Data Cloud in real-time.
Basically, Salesforce wants to ensure making sense of your data is easier than ever – and some demos show just how simple bringing together these different sources can be – at least in theory.
Data Cloud is now free to get started, Harris notes, with all Enterprise, Unlimited and Unlimited Plus subscribers.
David Schmaier, president and chief product officer, is next up, and introduces the new Einstein 1 Copilot.
“This is a big, big deal – the data powers the AI, and the AI powers your customer experience,” he notes.
The new tool can provide a huge range of services – from providing sales people with automatically-generated leads documents, or service agents with the latest customer and product information, or marketers with easily-tweakable campaigns – the possibilities seem endless.
Einstein 1 is also coming to Tableau – giving more data to more companies to help them make smarter and better decisions, Schmaier notes.
It’s also coming to Canvas, Slack, MuleSoft and many more – this really could be a game-changer for Salesforce users everywhere.
It’s now time for some customer stories, with commerce giant Williams-Sonoma up first. They’re using Salesforce across the board, creating smarter and more engaging email marketing campaigns via CRM and Einstein Copilot.
Benioff is back, chatting to Laura Alvarez, the CEO of Williams-Sonoma about how the company utilized Salesforce technology.
He also asks her about her dreams for AI – with Alvarez replying that gaining customer trust by adding value is vital.
“The last thing you want to do is hurt the customer experience,” she notes. “When it comes to customers, there has to be nothign artificial about the experience…it has to be completely authentic.”
Benioff just confirmed his swanky sneakers are made by Gucci – another Salesforce customer!
Benioff now turns to the future of AI – and how you can make it successful inside your company.
Patrick Stokes, from Salesforce product and industries marketing, is here to tell us more.
AI is changing everything, right down to how we build apps, Stokes notes – as an AI application offers a new way of thinking and development.
Creating these new apps requires a new set of tools – and for these new AI apps, this is Einstein 1 Copilot Studio.
This helps extend and customize exactly what you need Einstein to do within your business, connecting models and data from a wide range of different sources.
Stokes shows off a demo where additional customized requests can be created and utilized quickly and simply, giving a richer customer experience all round.
“This is an entirely new way to build applications…you are all Einsteins now,” Stokes concludes.
Next up is productivity – and to talk through that, it’s Slack CEO Lidian Jones.
She’s here to show off some new Salesforce integrations that will show off “a brand new user experience”.
The “new Slack” has a number of changes and tweaks, including a number of accessibility upgrades – all with AI at the core.
Among the new features are Slack Lists, a new way to track your work with collaboration at the core.
Launching as a pilot later this year, it can use generative AI to bring together workflows from all your chats, meaning you hopefully shouldn’t miss any key deadlines.
Slack Sales Elevate also promises to use AI to help users save time and boost efficiency – bringing the power of Sales Cloud and Slack together for maximum productivity.
Canvas is also getting an upgrade, with the content generator service now able to pull in all related sales information to help salespeople, marketers and more – making sure they are equipped with everything they need to succeed.
“This is the future of productivity,” she says.
Benioff is back to wrap things up, covering all the main announcements from this morning, and thanking us all for coming.
And that’s a wrap for the opening keynote! We’re off to digest everything we’ve heard, but will be back shortly with the other main keynotes and sessions from the day – thanks for joining us, and see you soon for more Dreamforce 2023 fun.
Good morning from day two of Dreamforce! After yesterday’s product and AI-filled keynote, things are a bit different today, as the focus switches more towards specific panel and focus events.
However there are also keynotes on the future of work, marketing and lots more on AI, so stay tuned for all the latest updates.
First up for us this morning is a press panel about “AI in the workplace” – a growing consideration (and concern) for many businesses.
It’s a bit of an all-star line-up too, with Juan Perez, Salesforce CIO, Nathalie Scardino, interim Chief People Officer, Salesforce, and Lidiane Jones, Slack CEO all set to give their thoughts.
Asked what he prioritizes as CIO when it comes to AI, Juan Perez notes that the company always utilizes any new technology first to make sure there are no issues.
“When it comes to AI, we have been customer zero,” he notes, with Einstein Sales and Einstein Service among the most recent launches.
Lidiane Jones, Slack CEO, is asked how she works with Salesforce (and Perez) to unlock the power of AI.
“Being customer zero means we waste no opportunity to ask for new features,” she jokes, “it’s not sequential that work is done, it’s collaborative.”
“We look at, how are we supporting our teams to effectively transform how they are working,” she adds, naming Slack Elevate as a key example of this idea.
“Our mission is to transform how productivity is done with a platform that is connecting people and systems,” Jones notes.
Asked about how best to deal with the incoming AI skills gap, Nathalie Scardino, interim Chief People Officer, Salesforce, highlights the work the company is doing to boost AI skills adoption, as hiring the best workers is the key to assuring a strong future.
Salesforce also offers a wide variety of AI learning kits and skills on its Trailhead online learning platform, and Scardino also highlights how “continual learning” at the company is putting AI first when it comes to innovation.
A generative AI question for Slack CEO Jones, who is asked how she sees the future of work changing.
“I’m really optimistic,” she says, “Slack started with a mission to make people’s lives easier…and more productive.”
“What AI can provide for all of us…is taking care of bureaucracy work to make us the best workers.”
“When done well, AI can help us transform ourselves, and better the whole world…our belief is that we can do it with trust in mind, and it can be quite transformative.”
“We want to be the platform that unlocks this responsible transformation.”
Scardino adds that AI is playing a big role in Salesforce’s hiring policies, saving lots of time previously spent sifting on resumes, and spending more time getting to know candidates and the demands of the role.
“You also have to think about what doesn’t change,” she notes, “the human relationship will always be important.”
Perez adds that as a CIO, the use of AI to improve overall software quality, from coders upwards, will transform “significantly”.
“We won’t replace developers, but will look to build better technology,” he states.
Perez is asked how he is adopting responsible AI, and what status it takes within the company.
“I think of AI as another application – it needs to meet standards, it needs to be secure…and it needs to meet the demands of customers, and us, across the organization.”
He notes that Salesforce has created an AI council tasked with spreading AI across the business, but also boosting “enterprise AI” – allowing other parts of the business to speak up on how they would like to use AI.
Jones notes that Salesforce has always gone deep on responsible and ethical technology and AI use – “it’s been fundamental for us in how we build our software, and how we behave, that we have a really high bar for ethics,” she notes.
Turning towards productivity, the panel is asked how they are talking about AI when it comes to customers.
Perez says he believes, “every company has the opportunities for productivity,” adding that, ” as you improve productivity, quality goes with it…it’s a virtuous cycle.”
CIOs are being challenged by their bosses to find ways to improve productivity and efficiency, with tecnology central to this, he notes, and now AI is here.
“We still haven’t seen the full story written…we’re seeing AI as another enabler for productivity improvements,” he says.
Scardino says she thinks about AI in a critical thinking capacity, and Salesforce is focused on using the technology for productivity gains.
“The right kind of productivity…(means) the employee experience improves, you feel aligned with the company,” she notes.
Jones follows up by saying Slack believes that, “if an employee feels productive, that’s really good.”
“We are on a mission to help empower users…to be in charge of reshaping their own productivity,” she adds, “that empowerment really helps unlock what productivity really means.”
“It unlocks a whole new way to work.”
“We’re really excited to make productivity fun again,” Jones concludes, as we move to Q&A.
Asked about strategies to mitigate the “AI trust gap” mentioned by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff yesterday, Perez notes that Einstein Trust Layer should go a long way to enabling this.
“I feel really good about boosting Salesforce AI within Salesforce (because of this,” he says.
Asked about the impact of AI on junior level roles in particular, Scardino says she understands the concern.
Salesforce has continued investment into its internships and entry-level roles to focus more on the flexibility and agility to learn new skills.
“A company has to look for skills beyond the expertise,” she says.
Jones adds that Slack looks to help employees build the right skills, saying that agility is also a key consideration for her company.
Jones is asked how deeply the Slack and Salesforce relationship can develop in the future.
“We’re just starting on our journey of expanding on what Slack is,” she notes, highlighing the opportunities created by Slack Elevate in particular.
“Every company is trying to figure out what (AI) means for them,” she adds, “so Slack becomes really critical for companies during a period of transformation.”
Slack has become a critical part of any company looking to develop and evolve, she notes.
Jones also highlights Salesforce (and Slack’s) focus on equality, and how AI transformation means knowledge can be more accessible that ever.
“If we do it well, we can start laying the groundwork for more global equality,” she notes.
Asked if we’re now moving past the AI fear and scaremongering period, Jones says that she certainly believes so.
“It’s amazing how much it’s shifted over just the past nine months,” she says, “leaders are trying to help their employees understand their own journeys…I have seen a meaningful shift towards, how can I be a part of it, across the board.”
Final question – and it’s about happiness!
The panel is asked how AI can improve the quality of life for not just workers, but everyone.
Perez says that even though AI has been around for a while, there’s nothing more difficult and challenging for developers that when their code isn’t working, or the systems go down. AI support means software quality can keep improving, leading to better quality of life for developers, managers and other IT workers.
“What makes technologists happy is building technology that works!” he notes.
Scardino adds that purpose doesn’t change – and helping people be more productive is the main aspect. Finally, Jones adds that anything that helps solve over-working and stress, allowing people to spend more time with those they love, and focus on well-being is the most important.
“We can be happier at work, we can care about our connections, and we’ll hopefully have more time for the things that matter the most,” she hopes.
That’s a wrap on this panel session – we’ll be back soon with more updates and news soon!
And we’re back – after a refuelling lunch and coffee stop, it’s time for our next panel session.
Entitled “The Future of AI at Salesforce” this promises to be more of an in-depth look at how the company is planning to utilize artificial intelligence within itself.
We’ve also been told a certain special guest with the initials M.B. might be taking part, so we’ve got a good spot to make sure we hear all his wisdom.
Our panel is set to be made up of Clara Shih, EVP & GM, Salesforce AI, Kathy Baxter, Principal Architecture, Ethical AI Practice, John Somorjai, Chief Corporate Development & Investments Officer, and Eric Loeb, EVP, Government Affairs (alongside a moderator)…but there are six chairs on stage – so who else could be joining us?
Clara Shih is first up – asked which of the many Salesforce announcements from yesterday she’s most excited about, she mentions Einstein GPT first up, but that customers wanted extra customization options.
This inspired her team to develop Einstein Copilot Studio, particularly the Skills Builder and Prompt Builder tools.
“It really was a platform approach that is so exciting, and I think, the future of AI,” she says.
Shih is then asked about the long-term future of AI at Salesforce, and what the priorities are.
Trust is the main focus, she replies, adding that the approach to using generative AI in a safe and trusted manner is paramount.
The business impact is also important though, with AI needing to show its own importance and functionality, with organizational readiness another vital factor.
“You need both a top-down strategy, as well as a bottom-up one,” she says.
Kathy Baxter from Salesfoce Principal Architecture, Ethical AI Practice is next up, talking more about the company’s responsibilities and practices when it comes to artificial intelligence.
“It goes back to our company DNA, and respecting our customer’s data,” she notes, “you can feel confident in (our models) and that it’s going to be accurate.”
“It’s incredibly important in a business context, that if you’re using AI…it’s got to be accurate.”
John Somorjai, Chief Corporate Development & Investments Officer at Salesforce, is asked about the company’s AI development fund, and the motivations behind it.
He notes how AI technology saw a huge spur in interest and development, so the need to create a reliable and interesting ecosystem of partners was critical.
An initial $250 million investment was quickly spent, with a further doubling following soon.
Next up, Eric Loeb, EVP, Government Affairs, is asked about the governance of AI, particularly at a national and federal level.
“There’s a lot of interest…and there rightly should be,” he notes, “this is a transformational technology…but there has to be a sense of trust and responsibility.”
“But you need to have public policy, and regulation…but it’s not one size fits all, you need to think about different use cases.”
On to Q&A now, with the panel asked how they see the future of reconciling different nations and bodies across the world with AI.
Loeb replies that the sheer pace of technological development often makes this difficult, but there is intent to keep the controls ongoing.
Baxter adds that creating standards would be “an excellent next step” towards this control, and that the public-private collaboration will be vital.
Next is a question on Salesforce Ventures, and what exactly the body is looking for when it invests.
Somorjai asserts it is a global effort, with investments across 27 countries already, particularly around AI start-ups.
A question about the EU AI Act is next, with Loeb asked how Salesforce is set to deal with the legislation.
Although it is still to be finalized, and generative AI has thrown a small spanner in the works, he notes that there is still a lot of progress to be made and ongoing discussions around policy development.
“It’s not a static process that will continue to evolve…and that’s a good thing,” he says.
Shih emphasizes the Salesforce view that it’s user’s data is not their product, and that users have complete control and visibility over what data gets used to train and run models.
The nex question is around helping people work effectively with AI, and how Salesforce is pushing education around the AI benefits.
Shih notes that many consumers may have felt burnt around AI over the last few years, but that Salesforce s continuing to push its trust-first model as a priority.
“Consumer education is very important in all of this – similar to the Internet era, ChatGPT was their first introduction to generative AI,” she states, “our job is to educate consumers and employees around what’s important in the enterprise space.”
A bit of a disruption here as our special guest has arrived…
Marc Benioff welcomes us all, and hopes we’re having a good time, and is here to take some questions.
First off, he’s asked about his conversation with OpenAI CEO Sam Altman yesterday, and Altman’s quote about hallucinations being “not a bug, but a feature”.
“We’re just at the beginning,” Benioff notes, “these technologies are like toddlers right now, but they’re going to grow up fast…it’s going to be a huge leap, and we’re going to witness history being made.”
Benioff is then asked a local question about San Francisco, and if the city is doing enough to be welcoming to technology companies.
There’s been a lot of speculation that Dreamforce won’t be returning to San Francisco next year, but Benioff does say, “we’re moving in the right direction” despite issues around policing and homelessness.
There’s no final answer though on whether we’ll be back here next year though, but he does note that San Francisco is “the biggest AI city in the world.”
Next is a question about AI in developing markets and countries, and how the technology could be used for good.
“I think no-one is ready for AI,” Benioff replies, harking back to the early days of ChatGPT and Bard, but that there is a huge opportunity to provide education for everyone.
Next question is around Salesforce working with MSPs, and the opportunity this provides.
“I think we’re going to see a lot of entreprenuers,” he says, “now, everyone realizes a lot of these companies can scale and move quickly.”
“I know a lof of software in our industry needs to be rewritten…we’re rewriting a lot of our software right now.”
A question about Salesforce building its own LLMs is next up, and Benioff confirms most of these are indeed made from scratch.
“Because we have been so blessed to have so many amazing researchers, we were able to build so many awesome models,” he notes.
Our last question (Benioff is off to interview California Governor Gavin Newsom and film star Matthew McConaughey this afternoon) is about the recent Salesforce shake-ups and any possible succession plans.
Benioff shrugs the suggestion he is leaving any time soon with a laugh, and that’s that!
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