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Dreamforce 2022: Benioff and Taylor uncork real-time Genie to toast ‘new day’

Salesforce co-CEOs Marc Benioff and Bret Taylor vaunt their Genie customer data platform as real-time harbinger of eventual post-pandemic new normal at Dreamforce 2022

Salesforce co-CEOs Marc Benioff and Bret Taylor proferred a real-time customer data platform called Genie as an engine of growth at the supplier’s Dreamforce customer and partner event in San Francisco.

Benioff took a passing pot shot at rival SAP as he noted that Salesforce has surpassed the Germany-based enterprise applications provider in revenue, in a keynote that recalled pre-Covid 19 pandemic performances. “We are now the world’s biggest enterprise applications company,” he said.

This year’s Dreamforce is the first proper in-person customer and partner conference for the supplier since 2019. It was held on a mostly virtual basis in 2021, but with 1,000 or so attendees present in real life. This year, the company said it had “sold out” the event at 40,000 attendees. TechTarget’s reporter Don Fluckinger is, at the time of this writing, attempting to find out from the supplier whether it was Salesforce or the city of San Francisco which topped the number out at 40,000.

Genie is, in effect, a branding of the supplier’s customer data platform, built on its Hyperforce public cloud infrastructure located on public cloud providers AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and Alibaba. It also partakes of a so-called data lakehouse architecture, leveraging software from cloud data warehousing specialist Snowflake to do what Salesforce describes as “secure real-time and open data sharing" between the two platforms. It also bundles Amazon SageMaker, AWS’s machine learning platform, directly with Einstein, Salesforce's AI technology. The supplier claims it delivers a Customer 360 understanding for its customers of their customers.

It is made manifest in a new Salesforce rabbit mascot, adding to the menagerie of mascots that includes Astra, Codey the Bear and Einstein. Benioff and Taylor were sporting bunny ears during the keynote to signify the new mascot.

In a press conference following the keynote, Benioff and Taylor spoke about Genie and other matters.

Taylor said the “real-time” element of the customer data platform is the main new thing, adding to its being automated and intelligent. He compared it with the introduction of Einstein, which is how the company badges its artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities.

He and Benioff pronounced themselves surprised by how many new people had shown up to the event. Benioff added that Salesforce doubled its headcount during the pandemic. They came back to this as a “new day” theme, contending that as they had road tested their keynote with Salesforce customers and staff, listeners had said to them that the 2022 Dreamforce was the “most important” ever since it marks a reunion of the community that has grown up around the supplier in its 20 years of existence.

Taylor said there are 17 million Salesforce “trailblazers” around the world. These are advanced users who develop the customer relationship management (CRM) company’s software as a service (SaaS) for their own companies, often availing themselves of the supplier’s “Trailhead” continuing education and training programme.

They can be recognised by their black trailblazer hoodies, and often covet the golden hoodie that some attendees have graduated to. Those include this year’s “trailblazer of the year”, Sima Samara, who works in the Salesforce practice of Cap Gemini in the Netherlands, and was an immigrant to that country and homeless when she discovered Trailhead, she said alongside Benioff on stage, as he conferred upon her the golden hoodie.

In recent years, Salesforce has made three major acquisitions: data and applications integration provider Mulesoft, data visualisation specialist Tableau and, most recently, collaboration software provider Slack. On stage, Slack’s chief product officer, Tamar Yehoshua, unveiled a new Slack tool, called Canvas, that helps users find information more quickly. This incorporates technology from an earlier, 2016, acquisition – Quip – which is how Salesforce co-CEO Taylor came to the supplier.

At the press conference, Benioff said: “We have a deep product line, we have built something that is very comprehensive, not just sales, marketing and service, but with these three incredible acquisitions with Tableau, Mulesoft and Slack that have super-sized the company, and made it very relevant for our customers.”

Salesforce emphasised its sustainability promotion efforts and said European green initiatives, as well as privacy drives emanating from there, had been an inspiration. “Every company in Europe is going to have to go net zero, as are companies trading there. That has inspired our Net Zero Cloud [platform],” said Benioff.

He added that while present economic circumstances, with the energy crisis and inflation, add up to a difficult “macro, to which we are all connected”, he still sees a “lot of economic activity in this market”.

“Psychologically, we like to think of ourselves as not connected to the macro. But we are all connected together. Together, we are the macro, and we are all about to learn some lessons over the next few months. But we will get back to a more normal trend. When I do data modelling, I throw away the top and bottom numbers,” said Benioff.

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