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JAN 11, 2018

Dreamforce: 2018 Marketing will Utilize AI, Cloud Computing, and… Your Community

By Ryoko Takei

Dreamforce, one of the world’s largest sales & marketing conferences, was hosted by Salesforce again (as always) in San Francisco, and I was privileged to participate. Over 2,700 sessions were conducted over 4 days, with topics focused on the transformations in line with the 4th industrial revolution, including the implementation of AI, community and organization building to realize innovation, and equality as part of corporate social responsibility (CSR). This article shares how AI will change the way marketing systems work and what you can do about it.

In the field of marketing systems, it is becoming evident that business cannot be conducted without AI. Amazon and Facebook are obvious cases, but even for general websites, it is becoming prevalent for AI to perform customization based on the customer’s data, nanoseconds after the customer reaches the site. If the strategy is to constantly think about the end users, at a minimum it becomes necessary to step into the User Interface (UI) at their digital touch points.

However, it would be inefficient for all companies to create their own AI from scratch. It is for this reason that cloud-based marketing services exist, and companies must select their partners. Each company that provides a cloud has their strengths and weaknesses. Although multi-cloud services are commonplace at the moment, from a data management standpoint, it is much better to organize everything on one cloud.

Several key players are providing cloud-based marketing services. The announcement that Salesforce will be partnering with Google Analytics and G Suite, building on its relationship with IBM, is a big step forward for single cloud strategies. On the other hand, Adobe and their AI platform Sensei have a significant lead in terms of UI and creative asset management. Also in this field, Oracle, which has basically achieved a “one-stop solution,” has strengthened its purchase intent, and SAP, which is assessing an advance into the frontline, is also fortifying its presence as a player.

Although manufacturers claim that they will make it possible to manage AI without any Ph.D. holders, specialist skills will be necessary to implement AI, along with a certain amount of training for AI management and usage. Although it may be possible to carry out AI management without being able to write code, it is not easy to do so. Also, the maneuverability varies greatly for each company, and time and money are required for training. Further, a significant amount of work is needed to provide data to various clouds in order to handle the same customer data.

At the moment, the strengths of each company are scattered, so companies that are evaluating implementation will be further troubled by the questions of which features of which clouds should be put together and how should investments be made into the system to train employees.

Each Individual’s Community Becomes a Weapon

Now, how should individuals respond to this age? Until now, change makers were generally in the top positions of major companies and caused transformations through reform enacted by major investment and bold implementation of systems. However, unless entire organizations understood how to utilize these new systems, it was not actually possible to fully leverage AI, even though it may have been easy to access.​

You may have come across stories that a cloud was implemented, but is not being used much, or that the right data is not being inputted into the cloud service.

However, now that it is certain that these cloud services will be involved one way or another with every job, it would be a waste not to use these AI resources. Also, even small businesses can use the latest cloud services at just hundreds of dollars per year, using account-based contracts.

For this and other reasons, opportunities for coordinated growth through connections among users have recently increased. For example, a Salesforce Saturday community emerged organically, with gatherings at local cafes studying usage methods and solving problems. This type of activity also exists in Japan, with Jimdo as an example (albeit in a different field).

For this type of activity, Salesforce created myTrailhead, an educational platform that allows users to customize their learning by specifying which skills they need. Next year, users will be able to use it for branding on the company or organizational level.

Services only have a purpose if they are being used. Each cloud service company is putting a lot of effort into online training. We have reached an age where individuals can break out of the corporate box and polish their skills by utilizing opportunities for learning provided by each company. As individuals can now acquire and enhance their skills through their communities, no matter which company the individual belongs to or no matter what reforms occur, an environment where individuals can strengthen themselves and adapt to new jobs is being put in place. Each individual’s community will be very significant in the future.

Anybody can Become a Trailblazer

In the field of sales and marketing systems, free and low-priced cloud-based services are being launched one after another. Anyone can use the latest systems available. As a result of digital transformations, we have entered an age where anybody can start something as soon as they think of it, without waiting for a decision from a top-ranking leader of a major company.

With the 4th industrial revolution underway, corporate transformation and job reform will affect all companies and all jobs. Even just one trailblazer can change the foundation for organizational and business reform. This past year, over 500 people from Japan and over 171,000 people from around the world attended Dreamforce, a new record. I am surely not the only one who feels like these figures are a sign of the start of a new, major ecosystem. I look forward to the changes in the years ahead!