Monday, September 10, 2012

Ramp up to Dreamforce2012

We're closing in on that time of year again. Time for the clouds to come out and take over the city. It's the time when the wind swirls with marketing hype, where we stare up into the sky and dream about the possibilities. Visions of globally connected enterprises. Social work environments. Happy customers. Sales. More sales. And growth -- oh, glorious growth.

I know what you're thinking, "the political conventions came and went." Sadly, politics these days seems rather devoid of hope and vision. Or the promise of real innovation -- sort of like Oracle OpenWorld. Kidding.

But seriously, we're about a week away from Dreamforce,'s annual festival of technology summit meets dog-and-pony on steroids. It's 'the world is flat' with some marketing hype, the leading edge of enterprise software with some marketing hype. It's also parties and crowds -- amazing, exciting crowds. The crowds are a living, breathing answer to all of those skeptics in IT who said things like, "but really, who is using it?"

This year looks to be even more amazing (as you can expect a week of Benioff repeating), with sessions spread out over Moscone and hotels from the Palace to Union Square, the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Civic Center Plaza, and two or three after-hours block parties. At this point, the hotels in the city are sold out and you're hard pressed to find anything closer than San Mateo. Expect traffic in San Francisco to suck next week.

Sadly, as someone who has been to a few of these, I also know about the hangover. I know about the return to the real world, full of skeptics and naysayers. The return to real world problems like web-to-lead spam and the never-ending 'we can monetize that' parsing of services you've been used to having free access to for a long time. The joys of trying to overcome the unengaged account manager. I know that when I go back to the office on Monday, it will be another Monday, not the day that everything changed.

In that way, the experience is kind of funny. Whenever you get such a large crowd together with everyone focused on the same core topic, it's hard not to be excited, to feel pulled in and part of something larger. But organizational change -- enterprise change -- is a massive effort. It's a religious conversion that requires a baptismal tsunami.

But maybe this is the year when the technology and the cloud have become so mainstream that the writing is on the wall. Maybe this is the year that the waters surge. I know what you're thinking, but I can't help it -- I'm getting kind of excited.

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