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Salesforce workflow automation tools, Hyperforce debut

Salesforce delivers new Einstein workflow automation tools and unveils what it calls the most significant tech advancement in the company's 21-year history.

Salesforce plans to release AI-powered Einstein Automate workflow tools next year, as well as Hyperforce, an updated architecture that enables users to move customer data and workflows onto public clouds of their choice.

Salesforce users in India and Germany already have Hyperforce, which Salesforce president and COO Bret Taylor said will roll out to 10 more countries next year. Two years in the making, Taylor called Hyperforce the most significant Salesforce technology advancement in the company's 21-year history, and promised developers that apps on Hyperforce would be backward-compatible with previous versions they've created.

The move represents infrastructure modernization to accommodate performance, security and customer data residency compliance needs for Salesforce users, said Gartner analyst Jason Wong.

"This also allows Salesforce to reduce reliance on running certain products on its own data centers and, potentially, its infrastructure costs over time," Wong said. "As Salesforce's growth comes more from international markets, the flexibility to support regional cloud deployments and multi-cloud coverage across regions is an important part of Hyperforce."

Salesforce workflow tools added

Einstein Automate, a new set of Salesforce workflow automation tools, is planned for release next year. The AI-powered tools will complement existing Salesforce workflow features such as Flow Builder.

Included in the release is Flow Orchestrator, a low-code tool that automates processes such as multi-user approvals for mortgage applications and contracts. Flow Orchestrator, planned to be in beta by summer 2021, offers AI-generated user prompts for recommendations and next actions in building workflows, as well as identifying potential bottlenecks that slow down workflow processes.

I'm not used to hearing [Salesforce] openly talk about and embracing third-party applications that aren't just their AppExchange partners. It aligns with this need we see today -- to not be a wall-to-wall software company, but instead how your products fit in with other products.
Liz HerbertAnalyst, Forrester Research

Another tool that goes with Flow Orchestrator, MuleSoft Composer for Salesforce, connects data in these workflows across applications. It is expected to be available in early 2021.

Larger customers likely have admins and developers to customize Salesforce workflows for their organizations. For midsized organizations or department-level users who need a head start with pre-built Einstein Automate bots, actions, MuleSoft Connectors and process libraries, Salesforce curated a new page on its AppExchange marketplace with more than 700 choices.

While it sounds like big news, Einstein Automate represents more of an incremental improvement to existing Salesforce workflow automation features, said Forrester Research analyst Liz Herbert. The most interesting thing about Einstein Automate, she added, was Salesforce's emphasis on connecting to applications outside the Salesforce platform.

"I'm not used to hearing [Salesforce] openly talk about and embracing third-party applications that aren't just their AppExchange partners," Herbert said. "It aligns with this need we see today -- to not be a wall-to-wall software company, but instead how your products fit in with other products."

Dreamforce 2020's different vibe

The product unveilings came during the first day of the virtual Dreamforce 2020 conference, which differed from previous years in a number of ways.

It was almost a month later than previous Dreamforce conferences, which typically take place in early to mid-November. This year's edition will be spread across several weeks of virtual sessions and meetings, instead of compressed into a few days.

Then there was the attendance. The Salesforce user conference attracted about 180,000 attendees in recent years, turning whole city blocks around San Francisco's Moscone Center into a noisy day-and-night street party with musicians, meetings and Salesforce mascots indoors and out.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff keynoting Dreamforce 2020
Salesforce co-founder and CEO Marc Benioff delivered his Dreamforce 2020 keynote outdoors live at Salesforce Park, atop the transit center near the company's headquarters.

Instead, Salesforce co-founder and CEO Marc Benioff delivered his keynote live, mostly by himself, outdoors at Salesforce Park atop the transit center near the company's San Francisco headquarters. A few guests joined Benioff on location, socially distanced, including Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield -- there to talk about the planned $27.7 billion Salesforce acquisition of his company.

More guests joined virtually, such as Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, who discussed how the state's COVID-19 contact-tracing efforts worked on the Salesforce platform. The keynote was emceed remotely by late-night talk show host James Corden.

"It's not the Dreamforce I wanted, or anybody wanted ... but here we are," Benioff lamented. "It's a Dreamforce we will never forget."

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