Today is what is affectionately known as day zero for cloud giant Salesforce’s annual get together, Dreamforce.
San Francisco will once again play home to more than 171,000 registered attendees, spanning 90 countries, with a wider audience of 10 million expected to tune into proceedings remotely.
The city’s Moscone Centre – and many nearby hotels – will be the main focus of a week of keynotes, more than 2,700 deep-dive sessions and celebrity guest speakers. This year, among others we have former president Barack Obama, David Beckham and – a particular highlight for the writer of this piece – Game of Thrones’ mother of dragons, actor Emilia Clarke, who is also the founder of a SamYou, a charity that supports brain injury recovery.
Apple CEO Tim Cook will also feature, perhaps quite heavily given the two companies have just today announced the launch of two flagship apps.
So, then, what else can we expect from the week ahead?
The link between an array of industries that are using the power of AI, cloud, mobile, voice and other related technologies will likely be high on the agenda. Marco Bizzarri, president and CEO of Gucci is also a keynote speaker, as is Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines. There are myriad sessions featuring other key industry players.
Integration will be another key theme at Dreamforce. We’ ve already seen Salesforce and MuleSoft (a Salesforce-owned company) partner to focus on 'clicks not code' to enhance the customer experience so it's likely we'll hear more about that this week, too.
The CEOs of Red Hat and Workday are also on the speaker roster, so we can expect to hear at least a hint of additional further industry collaboration and integration in this respect. Indeed, the cloud giant’s CRM already works with Workday’s HCM in a partnership that goes back many years.
“Come with an open mind, leave with a full heart,” the company says on its ‘Why attend’ page for Dreamforce. I have a feeling given the continued sustainability focus that people will be leaving with anything but closed minds, too.
Indeed, Salesforce today reinforced its commitment to sustainability in a number of ways, particularly when it comes to helping meet Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
"This year we're bringing our commitment to the SDGs to life at Dreamforce and encouraging all of our attendees to take meaningful action," said Suzanne DiBianca, Salesforce’s chief impact officer and executive vice president of corporate relations.
"Together, we can push further and faster to effectively address the world's most pressing challenges."
The headline figures are $17 million (£15.4 million) investment through grants and more than one million employee volunteer hours over the next year. However, in reality, the intention and commitment goes much deeper.
At Dreamforce this year, the organisation will help save nine million gallons of water by supplying beef-free lunches, and - for the fifth year in a row - Salesforce will also be offsetting on-site carbon emissions, employee travel emissions, and conference water usage.
The waste reduction effort goes further, still. More than 150 onsite volunteers will assist with local waste diversion in a bid to help support San Francisco’s 2020 zero waste goal.
This week is Salesforce's 17th Dreamforce and the excitement out on the streets has already started to build, with the famous pin badges, stickers, and scout leader/ranger hats in full force. So definitely stay turned to the site in the coming days as we bring you all the news and views from the show.
Ultimately, as we approach the conference proper, we can see many things on the horizon. Not limited to innovative technologies and partnerships doing good for customers and their customers being showcased in San Francisco this week.
We also have the good that technology companies and individuals should be and are doing to lessen the adverse impact on the environment and continue to strive for inclusion rather than exclusion and division.
There’s going to be a lot to take in and digest over the next few days, but if everything I’ve been told thus far rings true, it really will be the biggest and best Dreamforce yet.
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Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.
Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.