With two stop overs, one flight rescheduling, and utilising the Wi-Fi in a total of four airports, NZ Marketing feature writer Ayla Miller travelled all the way from Auckland to the windy city of Chicago to attend Connections 2023, a conference held by Salesforce. Here she outlines some highlights of the experience.
Over the course of three days, industry professionals, Salesforce employees, and clients gathered to explore the future of customer engagement and uncover the latest advancements in the Salesforce ecosystem. With a plethora of insightful sessions, thought-provoking discussions, and valuable networking opportunities, Connections 2023 proved to be an unforgettable experience.
Kicking off our packed media agenda was an interview with Salesforce customer Ryan Bezenek, the Vice President of IT at Ariat International, a global outdoor clothing brand with a presence in New Zealand, to discuss how the company has experienced growth and success thanks to the strategic implementation of Salesforce.
“We’ve been able to grow our business tremendously since being on Salesforce. And a lot of it, especially with Data Cloud, means our marketers are able to actually go in and self-service within the data cloud platform,” he said.
Bezenek also spoke on the parallels between the “Western” work ethic that exists in the US and the work ethic of those customers in Australasia, which is why the brand expanded to the Oceanic region.
“It’s really because of that overlap and that synergy between the products that we’re offering and the connection that they make with the Australian and New Zealand markets,” he said.
Another highlight was attending a round table with David Schmaier, President & Chief Product Officer at Salesforce, where he provided an overview of Salesforce’s evolution of Customer Data Platforms (CDP) for marketers and highlighted their vision for the future of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) built on their data cloud.
“In the last 24 years, Salesforce became the number one CRM and now we’re really expanding that vision to be the number one AI CRM. What we mean when we say AI CRM is AI plus data plus CRM. And we’re really focusing heavily on the AI plus the departments.”
He also emphasised the innovation and foundational technology behind the Data Cloud, which is quickly becoming the central intelligence hub for Saleforce’s customers’ customer engagement, meaning more precise services, higher employee production and more “magical” customer experiences.
“The McKinsey’s quarterly report said that 70 percent of the companies they surveyed expect a personalised experience and 76 percent of consumers are not happy if they don’t get that. So this personalised data plus AI world is going from the exception to the expectation of what all consumers want in every single industry around the world.”
Schmaier further touched upon Salesforce’s advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and and how the Data Cloud will fuel Salesforce’s next-generation AI offerings, enabling customers to automate processes and drive operational efficiencies.
The event closed with some real talk by Schitt’s Creek Co-Creator and star, Dan Levy, who provided a fresh perspective on the power of storytelling and advice on how to create impactful moments with your audience through representation and authenticity.
“Story telling that’s rooted in something human, I love exploring humanity in all its shapes and sizes and colours,” he said.
“What was so fun about Schitt’s Creek was that it was very human. We grounded the show in a place that, as absurd as it was, it was very human. Because it was human we were then able to tell stories that were really funny and then at the same time poignant, or heartfelt, or heart-breaking. The idea of rooting something in a very human place, that’s the point of connection.”
While some attendees were perhaps wondering what Dan Levy has to do with marketing technology such as Salesforce, his comments perfectly encapsulated the essence of Connections 2023 by highlighting the event’s core focus on building connections with customers that are rooted in the depths of human experience.
Urging attendees to prioritise genuine human connections in their own narratives, Levy’s words serve as a guiding principle for the conference, inspiring the audience to create powerful moments that resonate with authenticity and representation.