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Apps, Einstein and Quip are expected to be the focus at Dreamforce, with Salesforce keeping any new clouds it may be building under wraps.
For its first 18 years, Salesforce focused inward, building its clouds and the infrastructure to support them. This year, with many business processes covered by one cloud product or another, Salesforce is turning its attention outward -- to the applications side of the aisle -- hoping that building out its community of developers will help propel new growth.
Salesforce applications will be a big focus at the start of Dreamforce, the company's annual conference, which is expected to draw more than 170,000 attendees, according to a recently published report by USA Today. In its initial announcements ahead of Dreamforce, Salesforce focused on existing products and how to improve the user experience, including a bevy of app-building tools.
Einstein apps and bots
The company's apps can now be embedded into Einstein with the release of myEinstein, which allows users to create custom AI models. Salesforce Einstein AI bots can also employ artificial intelligence to assist with customer service workflows. Einstein Prediction Builder enables admins to craft AI models that predict business outcomes.
Salesforce Einstein AI was the big reveal at last year's Dreamforce -- the accumulation spending more than $1 billion on AI-centric companies. And while no new clouds or platform-wide products were unveiled this year, some analysts see this year's Dreamforce as a Part Two to last year's Part One.
"It's an evolution from what [Salesforce] talked about last year," said John Bruno, principal analyst at Forrester Research. "Right now, Einstein is still in the early adopter phase. That being said, the stuff Salesforce has done has matured [Einstein] over the past year."
Apps extend to Apple, Google stores
One key example of that, according to Bruno, is the availability of Einstein Prediction Builder, which allows companies to embed AI functionality into its own business processes.
"Prediction Builder is Salesforce stepping out and saying, 'Everything you've known Salesforce to be as a platform is in the past,'" Bruno said. "Prediction Builder is the next generation of that. Salesforce placed its bets on AI being the future, and, if that's the case, you can't rely on the first-party capabilities you put out there."
Beyond improving and building out Einstein, Salesforce released several other upgrades, many of which focused on building Salesforce applications and company branding.
The Salesforce mobile application will go from Salesforce1 to mySalesforce -- allowing for employees at all levels to build custom Salesforce applications. App builders can also publish Salesforce applications to the App Store or Google Play with a Listing Wizard capability. Lightning received the app upgrade with myLightning, including better branding capabilities and an improved App Builder.
Quip makes collaboration push
Quip also received an application-centric upgrade, with Live Apps embedding real-time collaboration and document viewing, a calendar app that can be used to track projects, and workflow templates for quick document and spreadsheet use for specific industries and projects.
The added collaboration features for Quip can lead to the question of whether this is Salesforce positioning itself to challenge the Slacks and Microsoft Teams of the world. Salesforce denies any posturing, saying that Slack remains a partner.
Bill Quinn, director of customer experience solutions, Tata Consultancy Services
"Slack and Quip are allies in changing the way people work, and Slack continues to be a great partner of ours," said Rafael Alenda, vice president of marketing at Quip. "Slack has seen success in communication, while the Quip Collaboration Platform is focused on document, collaboration and, in the end, transforming the enterprise culture into something much more modern, less reliant on emails and less reliant on meetings."
Alenda added that with an open API, Quip could be embedded into other document-based tools that customers use.
While Salesforce continues to play nice with Slack, others see it as the company subtly positioning itself into the growing collaboration market.
"I think they're essentially working to make Salesforce the 'hub' for all the work you do as an employee," said Bill Quinn, director of customer experience solutions at Tata Consultancy Services, based in Mumbai, India. "Salesforce wants to be the one place where employees conduct all of their work-related activities. It started with Chatter but has grown with Quip."
To help companies with development of Salesforce applications, Trailhead has also been expanded into myTrailhead. The move allows customers to create custom learning pages with their own content and branding to assist with onboarding and company-specific skills.
More information regarding these features and other future features will be released throughout the week at Dreamforce. Be sure to check back to SearchSalesforce for updates.
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