Dreamforce 16 — Artificial Intelligence Augmented with Humanity

6 minute read

A week after Dreamforce … and I am writing this as I stand in my kitchen looking out the window. Outside the leaves around our pond are golden yellow, orange, and some are already starting to drop. It is the time of year I enjoy most – connecting with friends, carving pumpkins, trying to remember where I stored the various Christmas decorations and the smell of fresh baked pecan pie and hot apple cider with cinnamon sticks coming from my kitchen.

It’s also a time of reflection about my team’s accomplishments year to date. It’s only appropriate to think of my recent experience at Dreamforce, one of the world’s largest tech conferences drawing 170,000+ attendees this year. Each attendee’s perspective will vary based on what matters to them, so I want to share my top four observations and hope some will resonate with you.

AI is Everywhere – are you? Salesforce announced Einstein, which delivers advanced AI capabilities to sales, service, and marketing. At Altify, we went GA last spring with Max, the knowledge layer with experience of more than a million sales engagements built in. Our customers are already benefiting from the guidance Max gives their sellers to trigger the next action to increase sales results every day. Oh yes, and our CEO published his second AI book Tomorrow|Today, and it went to #1 on Amazon.

Account Based Everything – Jon Miller, CEO of Engagio, first spoke of Account Based Marketing, then Account Based Sales and now Account Based Everything. I spoke of it with Matt Heinz in this podcast just before Dreamforce and mentioned it is somewhat “Back to the Future,” for smart lead generation and marketing investments.

When I started my marketing career at Oracle, there were no marketing automation systems. In the Comms & Media division I worked in, we knew who we wanted to sell to and what we could sell them, and we started with their problems in mind. We were selective about who we communicated with, what message we shared with them, from whom, and via what channel. When I came to Altify, the first book I read was Account Planning in Salesforce, a book we published in 2013. It espoused the value of account focus and I am pleased to see that marketers are now striking a balance and going back to putting our customers and prospects at the center. [This is not an evolution – and we certainly don’t want the market to think it is – it is the foundation of smart marketing.]

Women – Salesforce is known for investing in women and championing equal pay and once again conducted an incredible Women’s Leadership Summit within Dreamforce. They also hosted an event with Women in Technology on Monday night before Dreamforce. Áine Denn, our Co-Founder, and I invited our female clients to join us for the Women in Technology event. We knew agendas were already packed, but when we extended the invitation to join us for the event and then dinner afterwards, nearly everyone said yes. At dinner, we talked about women in sales and marketing leadership roles and how we can help each other, and this inspired the desire to connect on a regular basis.

It is fitting this came just before Fortune hosted their Most Powerful Women conference this week and it was great to see Beth Comstock on there again. Last year she was the first CMO to make the list at number fifty. This year, as GE Vice Chair, she moved up to number forty-eight. GE is a valued customer of ours and Beth is a leader I greatly admire. As I look to the Women’s Leadership Summit, the Women in Technology event, the Most Powerful Women event, and our own networking dinner, it is clear to me there is a desire for women and men to help women and minorities realize their potential and this is inspiring.

Call Planner – it is always easy to be excited about your own product launch. We launched a new product, Call Planner, at Dreamforce. I used it myself to plan a media dinner I drove with Gainsight, InsideView and Velocify. I leveraged our tool to make sure I thought of everything (and missed nothing), as we hosted fifteen members of the press and four CEO’s for an evening. It was also great to see our sales team using Call Planner to plan all of their customer and prospect meetings at Dreamforce. It helped them outline the Objectives, the Questions and the best possible Agenda for each meeting. As a team, they collaborated on the various plans, and when one of our execs joined the meeting, they could review the call plan on their phone en route.

We launched a complimentary trial at the show and were flooded with trial requests. In fact, one of our customers, responsible for CRM for one of the world’s largest process manufacturers, asked to learn about Call Planner, as her company only did “pre-call plans” via meetings, but never captured the plan, nor did her marketing team have a collaborative way to contribute. Seeing the need, and the obvious opportunity to help her and her team be more successful, was inspiring. It made all the hard work in the months leading up to Dreamforce worth the effort.

As I finish writing this at the end of my day, I receive an automated reminder on my phone. It is fall, the temperature in Ann Arbor, Michigan is 65 degrees. It will take me 18 minutes to drive to my yoga class with traffic.

This is all very well but I have decided on a different plan tonight. The sun is setting on a gorgeous autumn day, and I make my grandmother’s pecan pie recipe, the first of the season, pour a glass of Italian red wine and head out to my patio to watch the sun set, and the leaves fall, over our pond.

I am grateful for machine learning and Artificial Intelligence that can point me in the right direction and I am grateful for my internal knowledge to know what I need in the moment. I call that little ai, intelligence augmented with my humanity.

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