You may have seen our posts about our time in Chicago at Connections 2019. While we’re happy to be back to work putting our newfound knowledge to good use, we’re already looking forward to next year’s event!
Before Connections week, we shed some light on things to explore in the event’s host city of Chicago. Once the action began, we shared our mid-conference updates featuring event highlights, and updated as much as possible via the RelationEdge Instagram.
We started our final day at Connections attending the closing Service Keynote on how companies can correctly use technology to build customer relationships. How do we keep humanity at the center of everything we do in an increasingly digital world? We learned from a panel of speakers that included Amanda West, Director of Product Marketing at Salesforce and Taksina Eammano, VP of Product Management Service Cloud.
Today, we’ll hear from a few — seasoned and newbie — attendees on their final thoughts on Connections 2019. (Spoiler alert: Customer 360 is a very big deal!)
Ilana Plumer: Senior Director of Marketing and Second-Time Connections Attendee
I really enjoyed my second time at Connections. It was great connecting (see what I did there?) with clients, Salesforce, and prospects at our happy hour on the first evening. The weather and space could not have been more amazing — and the conversations were even better!
Here are three topic areas I found really memorable:
- Customer 360 was everything. As we continue to talk about how to get that 360-degree view of our customers, Salesforce and its partners are really out there making it happen. They were able to showcase real-life and, in some cases, real-time use cases with their tool.
- There was also a deeper focus on Pardot than there has been before. It’s easy to get lost in everything Journey Builder, Email Studio, and the rest can do — but let’s not forget about Pardot! The sessions focusing on the future of Pardot were very insightful.
- GDPR. Hearing from a Salesforce attorney was different and particularly relevant. Everyone is, of course, very focused on GDPR but there is also so much more on the horizon with California, Brexit, and potentially nationally in this country that we need to be prepared for. I liked that the speaker asked us to not be fearful of all these regulations, but to be prepared and put ourselves in a position to really “nail it.” That’s what will set us, and our customers, apart from the competition. It’s all in the interest of putting the customer first and at the center of everything we do.
Brad Hattendorf: Director of Business Development, First-Time Connections Attendee
Attending this conference for my first time and getting face-to-face time with clients, AEs, contacts, AVPs, RVPs, and our channel partner was priceless. Seeing them in person allows us as partners to be able to use these interactions as touch points throughout our partnership.
On the first evening, our Partner Happy Hour was fantastic. The setting was great, and it was wonderful to see and connect with everyone. I also enjoyed the opportunity to get in some face time with co-workers that don’t live in my region.
Overall, seeing the Salesforce ecosystem in action was such an experience. They didn’t overlook even the smallest detail. The Keynote Stage, for example, was a Salesforce blue cloud. Everything in and around the conference lived and breathed the branding. It was pretty amazing to see in action, from the Campground to the people directing traffic. I can only imagine what Dreamforce is like!
As far as the sessions, there were so many. They should have a “CNX for Dummies” course to help newbies navigate their first conference. Thankfully, with Chris Zullo and Karisa Booth there with me (both veterans of Salesforce conferences), I was able to get some savvy advice.
The major takeaway for me is that Customer 360 is everywhere — from Marketing Cloud, to AI, to integration with Sales or Service Cloud. It’s clear they recognize what partners need and how to show them. Most clients have 15+ different sources of data and one central repository of all of those sources is key. That’s what C360 is aiming to be.
Already looking forward to next year!
Ashley Ansari: Product Marketing Manager, First-Time Connections Attendee
Our hosted happy hour with LiveArea was so much fun. It was great meeting customers face-to-face, networking with our Salesforce partners, and experiencing a prime viewing spot of the city!
Two things especially stood out to me:
- Customer 360 Keynote: I love hearing customer stories, and this keynote was loaded with success stories on how organizations are truly striving to achieve the 360-degree view of the customer.
- MuleSoft Sessions: With our new MuleSoft partnership in mind, I tried to attend as many MuleSoft sessions as possible. It is amazing what the Mulesoft Anypoint platform is helping its customers achieve! They are able to speed up IT delivery time, while lowering development costs and not having to outsource offshore. Their clients can truly create a connected experience for customers.
Chris Zullo: VP Solutions, Marketing, Fourth-Time Connections Attendee
As always, I loved the face-to-face interactions. The opportunities to interface with people in person at Connections and other Salesforce events are so valuable!
One of the best moments from the week was randomly bumping into four people who needed to connect, but didn’t have a set plan to do so. Somehow, the five of us came together at exactly the right time — from all directions, in the middle of the concourse outside the expo. It turned into a productive lunch meeting!
I also enjoyed getting a deep dive into Pardot Business Units and what that means for customers. I look forward to learning more and discovering how this solution makes a difference for businesses with sub-brands or regional teams.
Scott Reese: VP of Solutions, Marketing Cloud, Second-Time Connections Attendee
Like so many others, I loved our Happy Hour! Not only was it a great chance to mingle with Salesforce folks and clients, it was also a great chance to meet several of my RelationEdge coworkers in person. I also got to catch up with some old contacts and spend time with folks I used to work with during my ExactTarget/Salesforce days.
From a platform perspective, I was very excited to learn more about Customer 360 and where Salesforce plans to go with it in the near future. I think this will be an extremely beneficial value-add for our clients.
It was also highly valuable for our marketing practice to have a session with MC Miller. We learned more about the direction Salesforce is headed regarding Partner ongoing education and skills assessments. Coming out of this meeting, RelationEdge was invited to participate in, and give feedback on, a set training session.
Adam Plummer: Regional Market Leader, Second-Time Connections Attendee
I loved talking to so many people at Connections who work across all areas of the business. Getting to meet face-to-face with prospects, customers, partners, and Salesforce contacts was very valuable. Moreover, given the nature of the event, every company had attendees in various roles — from owners, to business leads, to technical experts.
The Campground floor was really beneficial as a way to get more familiar with Salesforce technology advancements, as well as third-party solutions. Quite often, customers want to understand how functional needs can be met on the Salesforce platform in as “native” a way as possible. There were many great solutions that provide extensions for Marketing or Service needs that we can show to our own customers.
Being available to the Salesforce Sales channel was also key. I was brought into three deals the week after Connections because various AEs ran into me at the event. It’s exciting to find new businesses that we can partner with to help successfully drive their missions and teams forward. I can’t say enough about the value of being physically present at the conference.
Want to know more about some of the solutions we learned about? Contact RelationEdge today to learn how we can help you leverage Salesforce solutions to drive transformative business value at your company.