• November 1, 2007
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

Things I Learned at Dreamforce '07

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Memo from the desk of Marshall Lager, November’s Chief Grumbling Officer:

Trade shows are for learning about the industry. New products are on display, fresh partnerships are in the offing, and there's always a chance to stumble upon some new person or player. It's hard to take it all in at once, so we reporters try to give you just the essentials. My online coverage of Salesforce.com's Dreamforce '07 wasn't complete enough, so here's a supplement for you.

1. Hotel elevators with key-card access are annoying -- especially when the people who own the elevator forget to tell you about it. Inevitably, the card reader inside the elevator is only on one of the two keypads (or whatever they call the wall of buttons). You have about 4 seconds to put your card in the slot, while in semi-darkness, or you're at the mercy of the lift's control system. It's even worse when you're carrying luggage or shopping bags, or managing a small child. Truly a marvel of design. Something tells me they got this idea from the Department of Homeland Security, as a means of preventing terrorist access to luxury hotels.

2. Marc Benioff has never started an event on time in his life. The Skull and Bones society at Yale runs on "Skull Time"--five minutes ahead of Eastern Standard Time. I think all Salesforce.com events run on Benioff Time -- 15 minutes behind Pacific Standard Time, with an option to tack another 15 onto the end of any session. Back-to-back meetings become back-to-back-to-back tail-chasing experiences when you schedule them any time near a Benioff keynote. If he weren't such an engaging speaker, I'd be angrier.

3. Club remixes of '80s dance music are a bad idea. Go-go dancers dressed like the Go-Gos, pumping it to said remixes atop four-foot-high glowing Rubik's Cubes are even worse. My heart went out to these unfortunate young women. Add in the substandard buffet, some beads and neon glowstick jewelry for the guests, and you have an experience that was so painful it needed to be mocked in print, for posterity. [Mission accomplished. --Ed.] Maybe I didn't get the memo, but I had no idea any of this would happen until I set foot in the Global Gala event. The highlight of the evening was not the appearance by INXS and its reality-show lead singer, but the old-school arcade games lining the back wall. The experience made my soul bleed.

4. People are stupid. George Lucas said so in his keynote. (Several times, actually.) It must be why he has an educational foundation named after him and a Web site (www.edutopia.org) dedicated to fixing education by changing the way teachers do their jobs. Since people are stupid, though -- proven by my failure to learn in nearly three years that Marc Benioff can't start an event on time, for love or money -- it's entirely possible that his efforts to smartify all the little children will crash and burn. I hope not; me want use brain more gooder.

So there you have it -- a second dose of wisdom from Dreamforce and yours truly. Is there a chance that some of it will sink in before Dreamforce '08? Ask George Lucas.

Contact Senior Editor Marshall Lager at mlager@destinationCRM.com.

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