It’s been a big year since the Salesforce World Tour was last in London. Salesforce turned eighteen, for starters – and it was quite the coming of age.

During this year’s opening keynote, Salesforce CMO, Simon Mulcahy, looked back on an eventful twelve months, what it means to be a trailblazer, and how leading brands in the UK are blazing their own trails to success. Here are the highlights from that keynote address. 

The Salesforce Economy

The company reached some impressive growth milestones, hitting $8.4 billion revenue to become the fastest growing top-five enterprise software company – and our CEO was named the decade’s top innovator by Forbes

But more importantly, Simon looked at what’s been called the Salesforce Economy. By 2020, IDC have forecast that Salesforce will have created $389 billion in GDP – and 1.9 million jobs.

In the UK alone that adds up to a £35 billion impact and 150,000 jobs with Salesforce-related skills. We also heard that two-thirds of the FTSE 100 are already running on Salesforce.

Which doesn’t sound so far-fetched when you see almost 10,000 people crammed around what is essentially a massive keynote campfire (the Trailhead mountains came to the ExCel London for the day). 

The Age of Equality

With the numbers out the way, the conversation soon came back to the values that have always guided Salesforce: trust, growth, innovation and equality.

Equality was a major theme throughout this year’s event, and Simon kicked off the conversation by exploring what it actually means to us at Salesforce. It means equal rights, of course – with a drive for equal opportunities, pay equity and LGBTQ rights high on the agenda. One of the highlights of the day was our equality keynote panel, which was streamed live on Twitter and I highly recommend you watch that recording

Equality also means thinking about the impact we make on our environment. And Simon was pleased to remind the customers in the room that they’re operating in a carbon neutral cloud. 

And finally philanthropy – we pioneered the 1-1-1 philanthropy model to give one percent of our time, profit and product to good causes. Now, when Salesforce made that pledge right at the start of our journey in 1999, we were giving away one percent of not much. Which if you do the maths (and Simon assures us he did), works out at even less than not much.

Fast forward eighteen years and one percent of our time works out at an astounding 120,000 hours of volunteering hours in the UK alone – 2 million worldwide. And in terms of cash, that one percent today translates to $160 million in grants gifted to 31,000 non-profit organisations. 

Organisations like The Challenge. CEO Oliver Lee joined Simon on stage to talk about the programmes The Challenge runs to help build a stronger, more resilient society through community. Fifty thousand people have been through The Challenge’s three programmes, and Oliver spoke about Step Forward, the newest of those. 

Step Forward gives London school-leavers from all backgrounds a supportive network and a better chance of successful entry into the workforce. And like all of the Challenge’s amazing work, it runs on the power of the Salesforce platform. 

The Age of Artificial Intelligence

At the past few Salesforce World Tours, we’ve seen how cloud, social and the Internet of Things have been changing the world we operate in. This year, the biggest transformational force on the agenda was Artificial Intelligence (AI). 

Introducing Salesforce Einstein, your personal data scientist. Everyone’s been talking about how artificial intelligence is turning every industry on its head, but when it comes to putting it into practice, how many brands even know where to start? 

The huge news from Salesforce World Tour 2017 is that, thanks to Einstein, this artificial intelligence layer is now built in to the Salesforce platform. 

And there’s more. Salesforce recently partnered with IBM to combine the power of predictive insights from first-party customer data (via Einstein) with third-party data (via Watson) to make exceptional customer experiences even smarter.

We saw one AI-powered capability demonstrated on the day, in the form of the Watson Weather Alert Service in Salesforce App Cloud. 

Imagine a car insurance provider harnessing real-time weather data that triggers an alert when hail is forecast. Not only can this automatically trigger a predictive journey that maps out new interactions with vehicle owners; the AI can analyse past interactions to decide which channel each customer prefers. So an SMS, email or app notification can be sent with a personalised message – just in time to let the owner get their car into the garage and out of harm’s way. 

It’s Not (Just) About the Tech

With all this talk of AI and the Internet of Things, it’s easy to get carried away with the technology and forget about why it’s actually there. 

But there’s no risk of that at Centrica Connected Home (Hive) with Nina Bhatia around. Nina is the MD, and her focus is fixed on one thing.

‘It’s not really about the technology,’ says Nina. ‘It’s about solving real customer problems. Because no matter how smart the technology is, if it’s not simple and useful, the customer just won’t use it.’

These problems don’t always sound glamorous on paper – like making thermostats easier to understand and operate – but solving them for happy customers is big business. 

That’s what Centrica does when it joins up its sales, marketing and aftercare journeys. From the moment a customer browses and buys a smart home device, through installation and beyond, the Salesforce platform helps Centrica create seamless customer experiences that are easy, rewarding and secure. Learn more about how it works here

Never stop learning

The World Tour London was full once again with Salesforce Admins sharing their expertise, as well as customers and partners sharing their experiences on the expo floor. And throughout Simon’s keynote, one lesson was clear: the best experiences are created by brands that never stop learning.

So if you haven’t seen them already, check out the learning resources available on Trailhead, and you will soon be blazing trails of your own. 

Check out the full video recording of the opening keynote on Salesforce Live