Salesforce Connections 2018 has just wrapped up in Chicago and it was a whirlwind couple of days. The digital marketing, commerce and customer service event of the year was full of announcements, learnings, impressive Trailblazers and inspiring messages of equality. We’ve pulled out the highlights:

1. Innovation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution was revealed


Customers – both B2B and B2C – now look beyond product, rewarding businesses that can deliver a more convenient, personalised experience. In the ‘We Are All Trailblazers’ keynote, Salesforce Chief Product Officer, Bret Taylor, announced several new Salesforce product innovations that would help businesses succeed in this goal.

Taylor said the technology will enable teams with a platform and a set of skills to achieve a 360-degree view of their customer. Watch the keynote on Salesforce LIVE.

2. Lucy Liu shared how she has overcome racism and adversity

No Trailblazer hasn't faced their fair share of hurdles; actress Lucy Liu included. In the opening keynote, Liu talked about how she has broken barriers to success and beaten adversity in Hollywood. She also spoke about the topic of equality for all – a key Salesforce value.


3. Transforming the customer service experience


One common mantra that resonated throughout Salesforce Connections 2018 was that customers are more connected than ever. In the world of customer service, organisations must respond by delivering results that move customers from transactions to transformation through connected, intelligent, personalised and scalable experiences.

We heard about the latest Service Cloud innovations – Einstein Bots, Service for Commerce and the next generation of digital engagement – as well as how Trailblazers like Marriott and DoorDash are driving lasting customer loyalty. Watch the service keynote on Salesforce LIVE.

4. Intelligent marketing for empowered customers was championed


We learnt that intelligent marketing is the driving force for growth behind some of the world's most valuable brands. In the marketing keynote, Salesforce Senior Vice-President of Marketing Cloud, Liam Doyle, along with Trailblazers from Ticketmaster and Ducati, unveiled the latest Marketing Cloud innovations. They also shared new insights into building brands and wining the hearts, minds and loyalty of customers. Watch the marketing keynote on Salesforce LIVE.

5. The convergence of B2B and B2C


In the commerce cloud keynote, the need to integrate B2B and B2C experiences was discussed. “Experiences in one world influence and set expectations in another,” Salesforce Chief Operating Officer for Commerce Cloud, Tom Griffin, said.

In the Salesforce universe, this consumerisation of B2B is coming to life through the acquisition of CloudCraze and the subsequent launch of Salesforce B2B.

“Consumer expectations are changing, and they’re manifesting in B2B business,” Salesforce Senior Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer for B2B Commerce, Ray Grady, explained.  

The main takeaway: Customers shop everywhere. And, it’s only with the innovations of AI, voice, visual search and modernised service that Trailblazers can continue to make their customers happy. Watch the commerce cloud keynote on Salesforce LIVE.


6. Kerry Washington inspired us to stand up for equality


“You have to be willing to collect your NOs to get to your YESes,” actress Kerry Washington, who appeared as part of the Women's Equality Trailblazer keynote series, said.

Trailblazing women break barriers every day, leading us all on the path to equality. Washington, known for her starring role in the TV show Scandal, is fearlessly blazing that trail. A long-time advocate for equal pay and gender equality, she shared her experiences, inspiring the audience to blaze their own trail to equality.

7. We took a deep dive into the customer of the future


What will customer experience look like in 2025? This was the topic of discussion between Catharine Hays, co-author of Beyond Advertising: Creating Value Through All Customer Touchpoints; Glen Hartman, Senior Managing Director of Accenture Interactive; and Harsha Mokkarala, Chief Revenue Officer at 2U Inc.

One of the big shifts accelerating expectations around customer experience is how people gather information, according to Mokkarala.

“Consumers don't want to follow the funnel,” he said. “They want to research and find all the info they need across a million different places on the web. We need to aid consumers in the research process.”

The panellists also discussed the essential role of trust between individuals and the companies they choose to do business with.

“A brand is a promise and trust is a big part of that,” Hartman said. “The way promises are kept are with experiences.”

8. Trailblazing women of the world united


Salesforce’s Trailblazing Women group, in partnership with the Salesforce Women's Network, hosted a networking lunch where an awe-inspiring panel of female leaders shared their experiences and tips for navigating the corporate world.

Moderated by Salesforce Senior Director of Global Equality Programs, Molly Ford, the conversation touched on topics that included sponsorship versus mentorship, negotiating salaries and advice for younger selves.


9. Our Ohana came together to give back


Conference attendees had the opportunity to participate in a hands-on giving back activity that benefited City Kids Camp Dixon – a summer camp that gives Chicago-based students a place to experience nature and outdoor adventures. Our Trailblazers jumped in, building summer camp kits, wilderness adventure kits, and arts and crafts kits.

10. Adrian Grenier told us to treat our planet better and “stop sucking”


How did actor Adrian Grenier – who made a name for himself galavanting around Los Angeles in a Hummer in the TV series Entourage – get into ocean conservation work? The answer is quite simple: “My mother raised me with one basic rule: to clean my room,” he told a room full of conference attendees. He now applies that same rule to the larger world, raising awareness and global participation around the issue of ocean pollution.

“What the planet needs is not just a really passionate extremist to do something once; we need everyone around the world to commit to a lifetime of daily, subtle effort,” Grenier said.

His incubator, Lonely Whale, has focused on inspiring change through small movements, the first of which is to reduce the use of plastic straws. The Salesforce Connections session concluded with Grenier asking the audience to stand up, raise their right hand and pledge to “stop sucking” (the campaign's clever slogan). The moment inspired us to think bigger about our role as corporate and social citizens.

If you were lucky enough to have been part of the APAC @ Connections delegation, thanks for joining us!

Discover how the emerging technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution are influencing the future of customer experience. Download the new State of the Connected Customer report.