Connections took Chicago by storm this week. And it's no secret that the customer engagement event of the year had a lot going on. From innovative announcements in keynotes to inspiring messages throughout the Women's Equality Trailblazer series — it all happened at Connections! Here are the top 10 moments:
Customers, whether B2B or B2C, now look beyond product to reward businesses that can deliver a more convenient, personalized experience. And in the “We Are All Trailblazers” Main Keynote, Bret Taylor, Salesforce Chief Product Officer, announced several new product innovations to “enable teams with a platform and a set of skills” to achieve a 360-degree view of their customer. Missed the Main Keynote? Watch it here!
No Trailblazer hasn't faced their fair share of hurdles. Actress Lucy Liu has seen her fair share of adversity in Hollywood. The stereotypes her parents faced as Chinese immigrants to New York City followed her to Hollywood in the form of typecasting, she told an audience of thousands in Monday's keynote talk. Lucy discussed the topic of equality for all — a key Salesforce value — with Ellen McGirt, a Senior Editor for Fortune who writes on diversity issues.
One common mantra that resonated throughout Connections was that “customers are more connected than ever.” In the world of service, organizations must respond by delivering results that move customers from transactions to transformation through connected, intelligent, personalized, and scalable experiences. See the latest Service Cloud innovations — Einstein Bots, Service for Commerce, and the next generation of digital engagement — and learn how Trailblazers like Marriott and DoorDash are using the No. 1 B2C and B2B Service Platform to drive lasting customer loyalty. Connections attendees learned the in's and out's of what's new for Service Cloud during their keynote. Check it out here.
Intelligent marketing is the driving force for growth for some of the world's most valuable brands. Liam Doyle, Salesforce SVP of Marketing Cloud, along with Trailblazers from Ticketmaster and Ducati, and other Salesforce Product Marketing leaders, Robert Begg and Meghann York, displayed all the latest Marketing Cloud innovations at Connections. Salesforce can now help you personalize every customer interaction across marketing, commerce, sales, and service. The keynote not only gave Trailblazers an opportunity to connect with other Trailblazers, but also provided new insights to build brands and win the hearts, minds, and loyalty of consumers. Missed it all, or just some of it? Catch the keynote here.
The time to integrate our B2B and B2C experiences is now. At least that was the resounding message from Tom Griffin, Salesforce’s Chief Operating Officer for Commerce Cloud, in today’s Commerce Cloud keynote. “Experiences in one world influence and set expectations in another,” he said. This consumerization of B2B is coming to life through the launch of Salesforce B2B with the acquisition of CloudCraze. “Consumer expectations are changing, and they’re manifesting in B2B business,” explained Ray Grady, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for B2B Commerce. The main takeaway: consumers shop everywhere. And it’s only with the innovations of AI, voice, visual search, and modernized service that Trailblazers can continue to make their customers happy. Deep dive into more insights with the Commerce Cloud keynote.
“You have to be willing to collect your NOs to get to your YESes,” said Kerry Washington. Eager Trailblazers gathered on the final day of Connections to catch the powerhouse actress in person as part of the Women's Equality Trailblazer Keynote series. Trailblazing Women break barriers every day, leading us all on the path to equality. Kerry Washington is fearlessly blazing that trail. A celebrated actress from ABC’s award-winning series "Scandal," Kerry has taken her activism from the small screen to the real world — and even to the White House. A long-time advocate for equal pay, gender equality, and immigration reform, Kerry will share her insights and experiences to inspire, motivate, excite, and encourage you to blaze your own trail to equality.
The question of the day: What will customer experience look like in 2025? That was the topic of discussion in the session “Customer Experience in 2025: Balancing Personalization and Privacy” and featuring Catharine Hays, co-author of Beyond Advertising: Creating Value Through All Customer Touchpoints, Glen Hartman, Senior Managing Director at Accenture Interactive, and Harsha Mokkarala, Chief Revenue Officer at 2U, Inc. One of the big shifts accelerating expectations around customer experience, said Mokkarala, is how people gather information. “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 panelists 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,” said Hartman. “The way promises are kept are with experiences.”
Salesforce’s Trailblazing Women group, in partnership with the Salesforce Women's Network, hosted an event complete with lively table discussions, networking, and an awesome panel of inspiring female leaders sharing their experiences and tips for navigating. Moderated by Molly Ford, Salesforce’s Senior Director of Global Equality Programs, the conversation touched on the topics of sponsorship vs. mentorship, negotiating salaries, advice for younger selves, and other important topics for women professionals. Catherine Wood of Ticketmaster, Andrea Armstrong of Alight Solutions, Erica Geil of Groupon, Angelica Munson of Shiseido, and Tracie Kambies of Deloitte delighted the audience with anecdotes and tangible advice.
Conference attendees had the opportunity to participate in a hands-on giving back activity benefiting City Kids Camp Dixon, a summer camp that gives Chicago-based students a place to experience nature and other outdoor adventures. Our Trailblazers jumped in, building Summer Camp Kits (backpack, flashlight, etc.), Wilderness Adventure Kits (compass, binoculars, etc.), and Arts and Crafts Kits (paint, canvas, brushes, etc.). We love seeing our Ohana come together like this!
How did actor Adrian Grenier — who made a name for himself galavanting around L.A. 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 full room of Connections attendees. He now applies that same rule to the larger world by raising awareness and global participation on 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,” said Adrian. This is why his incubator, Lonely Whale, has focused on inspiring change through small movements, the first of which is to reduce the use of plastic straws. In Seattle, Lonely Whale has already helped eliminate 2,000,000 straws in just one month. (Apparently, 60% of us don’t really want them in our drinks anyways.) The session concluded with Adrian asking the audience to stand up, raise their right hand, and pledge to “Stop Sucking” (the campaign's clever slogan). The whole feel-good experience reminded us of the power of taking a moment at these tech conferences to think bigger about our role as corporate and social citizens.
Connections wouldn't have been a fraction of a good time without our Trailblazers in attendance. From the bottom of our hearts, mahalo!