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Salesforce Dreamforce Keynote: AI, Integration, Alicia Keys And Protestors

Founder and co-CEO Marc Benioff tells attendees of his company's mega-conference that Salesforce is building a ‘single source of truth’ to coordinate customer interactions.

Salesforce likes to defy conventions, and the keynote that kicked-off the CRM leader's Dreamforce conference on Tuesday, though limited in product revelations, certainly fit that bill.

That session, during which Salesforce founder and co-CEO Marc Benioff was repeatedly interrupted by protestors (one of whom he allowed 30 seconds to read a statement), was capped off by a performance from singer Alicia Keyes.

On the product side, Benioff presented more broad strategy than actual deliverables, with his team leaders invited on stage to discuss their work better integrating Salesforce's various clouds and outside systems, unifying customer data across those sources, and enhancing customer-facing features with artificial intelligence.

[Related: 5 Things To Watch For At Dreamforce 2019]

"Chapter 1" of Benioff's presentation focused on the vision and some new capabilities of the Customer 360 platform introduced at last year's Dreamforce—one supported by Salesforce's acquisition of MuleSoft.

"Chapter 2" was all about data, with Benioff transitioning from MuleSoft to Tableau, the deal that superseded MuleSoft as the largest in Salesforce's history.

Salesforce has enhanced Customer 360 across five products: Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Commerce Cloud, and its development platform, Benioff said.

The goal is to make it easier for customers to select, connect and deploy Customer 360 services, so efforts like marketing are always closely synched with customer and order data.

MuleSoft extended that interconnected vision to data inputs and devices from all other vendors, he said, and more than a year after the acquisition, "we've been able to weave it into the fabric of the customer success platform and the Salesforce customer 360," Benioff said.

But the larger Salesforce vision is implementing a Single Source of Truth (SSOT), in which all data across the enterprise connects and works as an entirely cohesive system.

That's now possible because of a data revolution that's ushered in the "fourth wave of computing," Benioff said.

"We've gone from systems of record, to systems of engagement, to systems of intelligence," Benioff said. Now the industry is moving toward SSOT—something computer scientists have been talking about for years.

That concept essentially establishes a "truth profile" that's built into the latest version of Customer 360, Salesforce president and chief product officer Bret Taylor told Dreamforce attendees.

The new Customer 360 SSOT capabilities come at no charge. "This is a deep integration into our platform," Benioff said.

Salesforce is so dedicated to easing the exchange of data, it is working with the Linux Foundation to develop an open integration standard, called the Cloud Information Model.

Salesforce's data proficiency took a giant leap earlier this year with Tableau, the software company it bought in August for $15.7 billion. Tableau offers "incredible business intelligence, incredible analytics, incredible visualization," Benioff said before discussing the synergies of the two companies with Adam Selipsky, Tableau's CEO.

Artificial intelligence, and the Salesforce Einstein machine learning platform, was a running theme throughout the discussion and a focus of upgrades demonstrated with high-profile customers like State Farm and Louis Vuitton.

"It's incredible how artificial intelligence is becoming such a pervasive part of our world," Benioff told the audience.

When he invited to the stage his co-founder and CTO, Parker Harris, he made a request on that front.

"We want our customers' customer to be able to call and talk to Einstein directly," Benioff told Harris.

The two demonstrated that capability with a new no-code platform for building voice-integrated, intelligent apps, Einstein Voice Skills.

Richard Socher, Salesforce's chief scientist and a renowned specialist on AI, joined Benioff and Harris, telling them, "I think you're right. Einstein will sit in a service center."

Einstein has also gained new recommendation capabilities to boost sales productivity, as well as voice tools sales teams can use to automate processes.

And through a new partnership with Amazon, Salesforce has embedded Einstein into the Alexa digital assistant, Harris said.

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