Salesforce1 conference – The what ifs…

  May 27, 2014       Pierre Positiveur

Salesforce1 world tour – London – one of the biggest shows in town. Here’s a quick blog from our CEO – Mark Richards on his thoughts, highlights and the what if questions he was left with…

It’s a challenge to pick just a few highlights from the various events last week what with it being a bit of a mixed bag elsewhere.

First of all a huge thank you from me to everyone involved in bringing together the week that was Salesforce 1 worlds tour – London, especially  the team at makepositive for working so tirelessly for what felt to me was a celebration of human and technological connection.

Talking to friends, both new and old, the sense of excitement was palpable, yet the emotions were mixed in some instances – “We want it now and we want it to do more”. First timers commented frequently – “I get it”. Yet the same old risks and problems were still evident – there are still many who are fearful of this progress and some projects are suffering as a result. Time and again it felt like we were so close to reaching our potential but we were somehow collectively missing a trick.

An example: It was exciting to hear George Hu on the opening of the UK data centre this year. I can only imagine the technical challenges involved in building and operating such a site and the potential we now have for transforming, in particular, financial and public services in the UK is incredible. But why is it necessary to have a UK data centre in the first place? You may argue that there are rules dictating that it is necessary – Safe Harbour, data protection etc, yet we know these rules are only valid for some, not all. (What if we accept that data needs to be free? As we tend towards a connected, information society and leave the industrial society behind, data is surely the raw ingredient that feeds our individual and collective decisions.)

Whether it was enjoying stories about the transformational power of Salesforce (ht to Ray Cross for being the bravest speaker I’ve seen), or feeling myself unable to stop smiling when seeing our friends in the keynote (good job Ian), our projects being showcased (Sky Tickets), or the sea of expertise that was our #pinkarmy – I kept coming back to the same feeling of euphoria when thinking about what was coming later. Is tonight the night?

Let me explain…

What if we chose to view life as a celebration, with technology underpinning the societal needs that were necessary to create a global, sustainable existence. It sounds like a cross between science fiction and a utopian dream state but let’s look at the facts.

Technology is advancing exponentially. Listen to Ray Kurzweil, now heading up natural language recognition at Google, who has predicted the singularity in the near future. This is not some Nostradames wanna be – he has correctly predicted most of the major technological changes of the past few decades. So what does this mean? Perhaps it means that sooner than we can imagine, computing, automation and robotics will finally deliver the dream that has been promised since the first computers came into existence – increased time to do what we please. This might be hard to imagine since we appear to be in a world of constant noise and communication with very little time to relax. I suspect this is the storm before the calm.

Our goal is to leverage Salesforce to organise and deliver this automation. You may not have considered salesforce.com as a planetary “operating system” – but I have. And why not? What would the world look like powered by Salesforce?

But how does this relate to parties? I’d define a party as any gathering, around a theme, with a heightened feeling of euphoria. So, it doesn’t have to be eight hundred people at Cafe de Paris, it could be a small bunch of people all connecting around something they love doing. But the point is, to be in the moment.

So maybe you can see it coming, or maybe it’s too abstract at the moment, but a world where Salesforce, robots and parties are commonplace, can’t come soon enough for me.

P.S. In case you are wondering why we are pursuing this, let me tell you a story I heard at the weekend. I listened with interest about a well funded American defense project – Search and Rescue. Micro-drones that use infrared to locate people. In the treacherous world of mountain rescue, here is an innovation that will save lives. Except, the project is not really Search and Rescue – it’s Search and Destroy. Why else would the project be testing bullets that can operate effectively from such machines. When I heard that story, I considered myself warned – and motivated.