Connections ’19 wrapped up in Chicago last week after three action-packed days. Here are the highlights.
With breakout sessions, hands-on training, keynote speakers, networking, giving back, selfies with Astro and the gang, and partying the night away with fellow Trailblazers — we saw lots of excited faces and memories being made.
12. Skiing legend Lindsey Vonn talked retirement and her future
Earlier this year Lindsey Vonn took her last run and brought her 15-year competitive sporting career to an end — as the best female ski racer in the world. As one of alpine skiing’s all-time greats, Vonn had mixed emotions about this part of her life coming to a close, but is excited by the new opportunities ahead.
In a chat with Salesforce EVP and COO Andy Kofoid, Vonn talked about her secrets to success – investing in herself and having a clear vision.
“I had a 10-year plan when I was nine that I wanted to compete in the Olympics and be the best in the world,” Vonn said.
And as we heard that Vonn had a fondness for goats — being that she is a G.O.A.T (greatest of all time) herself — we introduced her to our Cloudy.
11. We honoured innovative partners
DEG, linked by Isobar; OSF Commerce; and ATG, a Cognizant Company received Partner Innovation Awards for demonstrating outstanding achievements in delivering customer success. Each expertly implemented Salesforce solutions for their clients AMC Theatres, Bouclaire and Podium, enabling them to solve difficult business challenges and provide better customer experiences.
We are so proud each and every day to see the partners across our ecosystem propel success within our ecosystem. Congratulations to our three 2019 Salesforce Connections Partner Innovation Award winners!
10. Our community was showcased in the keynote
“Today we’re going to get serious about connecting because we’re here to help you focus on getting a single view of your customer,” said Salesforce CMO Stephanie Buscemi on the keynote stage. “Our job is to inspire you, motivate you, empower you. We’re all on this path together.”
Buscemi outlined how an incredible wave of innovation and technology is radically transforming our economies, our societies, and our daily lives — this is what is known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“We’re all connected. It’s already happened. We’re not entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution — we’re in the midst of it,” said Buscemi. This means that because we’re all now connected, our expectations have changed and we now all want smarter, faster, always-on experiences.”
Meeting these expectations has been a challenge. Once upon a time, it was tough for companies to collect information and data from customers; now we have an overwhelming amount of it, all across disparate systems and lines of business.
But there are smart, innovative people who bridge that divide, solve problems, and drive customer success in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Trailblazers. Whether delivering awesome user experiences, accelerating productivity or improving their business acumen, Trailblazers push their companies to embrace the future of technology.
Fawad Ahmad is one such Trailblazer. The lights dimmed as the audience watched his story unfold on screen. As Senior Vice President of Digital and Customer Experience at State Farm Insurance, Ahmad is committed to building a single view of State Farm’s customer: the policyholder.
Tasked with digitally transforming the nearly 100-year-old company, Ahmad believes that it’s important to treat customer experience as a discipline and to regulate that within the business.
“We need to know our customers and who we’re working with. We need to keep finding out what matters. Even if your mobile app is ranked number one, it’s not enough if you’re messing it up in the contact center or service environment.”
9. NPR host shared his audience-building tips
National Public Radio’s popular news quiz show Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me has been delivering both the news and laughs in the US for decades. The show’s amiable host Peter Sagal gave the Connections audience a behind-the-scenes look at why the show has resonated and grown its audience for the past 21 years — something many marketers dream of.
The secret? Being authentic to themselves and widely diversifying viewpoints with a broad range of panelists. And having fun!
“People always say that we sound like we’re having so much fun. We are. We work on making ourselves laugh, and then we invite the audience to listen in,” Sagal explains.
Hear how Sagal has created and maintained powerful and meaningful relationships from the Salesforce Live studio:
8. Innovations and announcements
Marketers got a glimpse at how Einstein artificial intelligence is making email marketing smarter in Marketing Cloud. And service professionals will be excited to hear about Service Cloud’s new channels and bot Innovations. All of these new innovations were created with Trailblazers in mind and designed to help them create stunning new customer experience
7. We all holla’d back
See what we did there? When Gwen Stefani hit the stage Tuesday night, after roller dancers, DJ Mary Mac, Chicago-style hot dogs and soft pretzels, one lucky superfan snagged the ultimate moment. Stefani noticed Katie DeLuna’s arm tattoo — Stefani’s own autograph – and climbed down for a hug. It was a night to remember for all who sang and danced the night away with friends.
6. Customers Trailblazers shared their innovation
Amid the booths in the Customer Success Expo, some of our top customers blew away attendees in the Campground. Brands like Conagra, Party City, e.l.f, State Farm Insurance and more showed off how their businesses are innovating with Salesforce’s help. Attendees could engage in hands-on activities, see products in action and speak with experts to learn more about how Salesforce can help them succeed.
5. We talked equality, allyship and inclusive marketing
Connections hosted a Trailblazing Women’s luncheon where Trailblazers could network, connect, and hear from a panel of female leaders.
“My mentor once told me to brag about something I accomplished at the beginning of every one-on-one meeting I had. Why? Because men do it,” Salesforce’s Senior Director of Global Equality Programs Molly Ford quipped to an appreciative crowd.
After talking about allyship, career advice, believing in yourself and more, attendees left pumped and ready to take on the world.
Hear more from panelist, Survey Monkey CMO Leela Srinivasan:
Connections also hosted a packed room of attendees looking to learn about inclusive marketing. In this panel discussion, leaders across varied industries shared their thoughts on the growth opportunities brands have, and how they’ve been tackling this important issue.
“How can you have inclusive marketing without inclusive representation?” Salesforce CMO Stephanie Buscemi asked, pointing to the importance of diversity within businesses as well as in their advertising.
The panel also acknowledged that inclusive marketing is uncharted territory for many who wish to become changemakers.
“We have to be comfortable admitting when we get it wrong,” Brent Allen, Associate Publisher at Elle and Marie Claire advised. “No one has a roadmap for this. But keep asking questions and keep going.”
Learn more about inclusive marketing by taking the Inclusive Marketing Practices trail in Trailhead.
4. Yo-Yo Ma taught us to embrace passion and leverage skill
We were honoured to have the talented and thoughtful Yo-Yo Ma teach us about merging passions and skills to make a positive impact on the world. In his fireside chat with award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien, Ma spoke of the importance of creating and sharing culture, and what motivates him to be active in areas of hardship and conflict through his Bach Project.
“The ‘edge’ is a really important place in science, culture, economics, etc. It’s where a lot of creativity happens that leads to innovation,” Ma said. “That’s why understanding what’s happening at national borders is important for me and why I want to play there.”
Throughout his discussion with O’Brien, Ma also touched on the importance of growing self-confidence, why we should try to be present in every moment, and why Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G was easy for him to learn at the age of four.
3. Keynote: next gen Customer 360
During Tuesday’s keynote, we revealed the next generation of Customer 360. New platform services will enable companies to unify disparate customer data throughout their entire organisation and then personalise every engagement based on a single view of the customer.
Customer 360 will go beyond customer data platform (CDP) capabilities and extend the power of customer relationship management (CRM) with consumer-scale data management and activation – great news for our customers who want to deliver unified cross-channel customer experiences.
“Customers today will not settle for fragmented experiences, and companies recognise that creating a single view of the customer is imperative to earning their loyalty,” said Bret Taylor, President and Chief Product Officer, Salesforce. “With Customer 360, we continue to extend our platform in new ways, empowering brands to unify data and personalise customer engagement at scale.”
Learn more about Customer 360:
2. We gave back
We believe in supporting the local communities that have supported us, and we’re proud to be investing an additional $1 million in education and workforce development to further our Future Ready programs, with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and i.c.stars.
We also love that attendees generously donated their time to build school supply kits for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago — an organisation that helps children realise their potential and build their futures through quality 1-to-1 mentoring. Thanks to our attendees, we packed 400 kits!
1. We remembered that Trailblazers can do anything
Whether it’s online via Twitter, in local meetup groups, or at events like Connections, Trailblazers have a knack for bringing out the best in each other. This year we saw Trailblazers sharing key insights, giving demos, creating fun videos and helping each other as one Ohana (the Hawaiian word for family).
In just three days Trailblazers raised $5000 playing Quest to benefit SmileTrain. We learned how Trailblazers from companies like Conagra, Pacer Sports and Entertainment, and e.l.f. are shaking up their industries to put their customers in the centre of all they do. We found out why companies need to treat customer experience as a discipline.
Best of all, Connections reminded us that Trailblazers are amazing people and that together, we can achieve anything.
Connections is coming to Australia later this year! Keep an eye on our events page to find out how to register.