Salesforce.com Unveils Updated Customer Service Platform on Its Salesforce Tour in NYC (Video Interview)

NEW YORK—The Salesforce Tour kicked off at the Javits Center on Wednesday, headlined by a keynote from president and vice chairman of Salesforce.com, Keith Block. Block recapped major announcements from Dreamforce, including the introduction of the analytics cloud powered by Wave, and unveiled several key improvements to the company's newly formed Customer Success Platform—a cloud ecosystem made up of the marketing, sales, service, apps, community, and analytics clouds.

"We're in the middle of an app revolution. Every company is becoming a cloud company, and they need to build mobile apps fast," he said. "We're innovating and delivering solutions that are transforming businesses and giving them an opportunity to connect with their customers in a whole new way," he added before introducing the latest version of the Salesforce 1 app platform.

The updated platform and app builder are now powered by Lightning User Interface (UI), which promises one unified interface for all Salesforce apps. The biggest change, however, is that with the addition of Lightning Connect, the app builder can now harness the power of the platform on external data. "The new app builder allows users to now pull in data not only from Salesforce, but also from third parties such as Oracle and SAP," Mike Rosenbaum, executive vice president of platform at Salesforce, said. The app builder also comes with "a few other bells and whistles," such as an augmented reality (AR) feature that enables users to incorporate AR elements into apps, he explained.

An app that Rosenbaum built on stage for Coca-Cola, for example, gives on-site sales reps the ability to transpose an image of a Coca-Cola cooler with an empty space in a store to show the storeowner what the product would look like in his shop, and then opt to have the item delivered by drone. Rosenbaum then demonstrated the drone delivery as well. "That only works in some cases," he joked.

The marketing, service, and sales clouds now have added functionality as well. The three are now deeply integrated with Salesforce's Social Studio, a combined product consisting of tools obtained through the Radian6 and Buddy Media acquisitions. "With stronger listening capabilities, the Social Studio gives marketers as well as sales and service professionals insight on social conversations occurring on Twitter, Facebook, and, most recently, Google+ and Sina Weibo. The integration also means that there is now a single sign-on process as well as a unified navigation across the cloud environment.

Salesforce's analytics cloud, the sixth and most recent cloud added to the ecosystem, was in the spotlight at the event too. Only a month since being introduced, the analytics cloud is "further strengthened" by the addition of 45 partners, including information providers such as Dun & Bradstreet, Health Market Science, and Thomson Reuters, as well as integration providers such as Bluewolf, Capgemini, IBM Cast Iron, and SnapLogic. "With Wave, we've completely reimagined analytics.... Wave is democratizing BI [business intelligence] in a whole new way. This is analytics for the rest of us," Stephanie Buscemi, senior vice president of the Analytics Cloud, said during her product demonstration. "What's exciting is that customers have all this data already, but haven't been able to unlock that data. With our new partners and the power of the Wave platform, we're helping customers unlock it and succeed in the market," she added.

[Editor's note: For more on the analytics cloud powered by Wave, click on the video below to view CRM magazine's interview with Stephanie Buscemi.]

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