What to expect at Salesforce’s Dreamforce 2018 mega-conference

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What to expect at Salesforce’s Dreamforce 2018 mega-conference

All Eyes On Dreamforce

Salesforce kicks off its mega-conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, and partners and customers can expect an avalanche of news in the days to come about the CRM giant's product direction, leadership developments, technology alliances and channel goals.

Over the past year, Salesforce has pushed hard to throttle its growth and build out its product portfolio and capabilities. The cloud pioneer closed the biggest acquisition in its history, shuffled its channel leadership to focus partners on aligning with industries, and further advanced its artificial intelligence capabilities. Charismatic leader Marc Benioff also adjusted his role at the company he founded and more recently signaled he might be looking for greater influence outside the tech community by buying a vaunted media property.

Here are five developments that Salesforce partners might be talking about after the world's largest tech conference wraps up.

Man Of The Year

Dreamforce comes directly on the heels of Marc Benioff's personal acquisition of Time Magazine—a prestige investment that certainly will propel Salesforce's founder further into the national spotlight.

Benioff's role at Salesforce, like his influence and prominence beyond the tech world, is also evolving.

In August, Benioff split the CEO job he's held since founding his cloud software company with trusted lieutenant Keith Block to concentrate on loftier issues of vision, innovation and culture.

With his takeover of Time, coupled with his celebrated dedication to social activism and philanthropy, all eyes will be on Benioff's keynote Tuesday for signals of how he plans to exercise his leadership of Salesforce in the coming years.

Integration Cloud

MuleSoft, the software integration developer Salesforce acquired in May, delivered US$122 million in revenue for Salesforce in the second quarter as engineers and product managers pushed to align the businesses and technologies.

Salesforce pulled the trigger on the US$6.5 billion deal to deliver on the promise of natively connecting apps built on its development platforms with enterprise solutions from other vendors.

Dreamforce will likely be the venue for the formal rollout of the Salesforce Integration Cloud—the product that realises that promise.

MuleSoft's Anypoint Platform, which supports service-oriented architecture, software-as-a-service integration, and API management will become the core component enabling Salesforce partners and customers to secure the flow of data between all systems across the enterprise.

"This was a missing piece of the puzzle. … This is an important part in our customers' digital transformation," co-CEO Keith Block told investors on the company's Q2 earnings call.

Vertical Focus

The start of the year saw a shakeup in Salesforce's channel leadership ranks as longtime channel chief Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh stepped into the new role of vice president for industries.

J.C. Collins, previously responsible for developing partner strategy, was simultaneously promoted to senior vice president and COO of industries, innovation and partners—a position in which he also took charge of running Salesforce's channel programs.

Collins and Taychakhoonavudh have been working together since February to encourage partners to better align their practices with seven core verticals that Salesforce is targeting.

Partners may learn more at Dreamforce about Salesforce's efforts to support and incent that initiative through the channel program.

AI Advances

Einstein was the breakout star of Dreamforce 2016, and at last year's conference, Salesforce's AI platform garnered more attention with upgrades and updates.

Over the past year, Salesforce has continued driving its intelligent cloud initiative by building and acquiring new machine learning technologies.

The purchase of Israeli-American startup Datorama delivered AI to customers launching campaigns with Salesforce Marketing Cloud. And Salesforce Service Cloud was the first product to see Einstein Bots, allowing service delivery professionals to leverage chatbots to simplify interactions with their customers.

Salesforce also raised its profile in the AI community in August when it open sourced TransmogrifAI, the automated machine learning library used to build Einstein.

In the company's second quarter earnings call, co-CEO Marc Benioff told investors Einstein and AI remain a major focus. Salesforce believes those technologies are critical to empowering customers to glean greater insights about their businesses and customers.

Prominent Partnerships

Salesforce locked arms with Google at last year's Dreamforce, surprising attendees with a new strategic partnership that would become a crucial component of efforts to scale the business internationally.

Salesforce kicked off this Dreamforce week by making more news on the technology alliance front with a deal to work with Apple on improving the Salesforce app experience for iOS. The two companies will also create new capabilities for developers in the Salesforce ecosystem building native apps for Apple's iPhone and iPad.

Salesforce is a company that relishes partnering with other name-brand technology vendors, having forged close working relationships in recent years with Amazon Web Services and IBM.

Dreamforce always carries the promise of revealing more groundbreaking alliances.

This article originally appeared at crn.com

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