Thursday, August 27, 2015

Reason #17 Why I Hate Salesforce: Dreamforce

Yet Another Frustrated post. Once upon a time, I used to think that Dreamforce was an incredibly valuable experience where people could learn about the incredible capabilities of the platform and understand the future of software. Now, Dreamforce has become another grand FU to its customers. I say Reason #17, but I just made that up because I've lost count.

I really wasn't going to go to Dreamforce this year. Between the crowds and the lack of available hotel space, Dreamforce is kind of like getting enrolled in classes at Stanford, but being forced to commute every day from Fresno. Or Truckee. I've written about this in the past, both with my past experiences attending the conference and the frustrations trying to get back and forth to the event.

As bad as my previous experiences were, I knew that this year would be worse. When I lived in Mountain View, Caltrain was ten minutes from my apartment, so it wasn't impossible to grab the train to the city every day. When I moved to Campbell a year and a half ago though, all of that changed. Traffic makes just getting to Caltrain a pain in the ass. It's 30 minutes to get to the Caltrain plus the long Caltrain ride to the city.

Planning and the Corporate Sloth
As corporate decisions go, we always debate about sending people to Dreamforce. The corporate sloth moves slowly. The first unwritten rule of business is never commit to anything, and that is particularly true when it comes to things that involve spending company money or pulling company resources away from doing things like answering phones and stuff where you can see people in the office. Investment in things like training -- particularly on software that we still struggle with adoption on -- it's just crazy. It doesn't really matter that anyone that has attended has come back as an evangelist. We remain skeptical.

Inevitably, by the time our company makes a decision on Dreamforce, the nearest available hotel is in Fresno. Or Truckee.

Why Am I Going?
Last week, our account rep sent me a teaser sneak preview from Salesforce. At Dreamforce, they're talking about announcing an overhaul of the UI. Pages will be built differently. Lot's of stuff. It's one of those things -- if you work with Salesforce, this will probably be important to learn about. A necessary trip into the barrel. Because Salesforce hasn't found enough ways to make us, their customers, feel uncomfortable while they rifle through our wallets. Because help and training costs money, like luggage on an airline. Dreamforce, aspiring to be an airline-like experience. Without really going anywhere.

My last really positive experience at Dreamforce was when I went with two of my colleagues who were experiencing Dreamforce for the first time and we stayed in a hotel close to Moscone. But that was all the way back when Stevie Wonder was the band. Since then, I've been to several others, but long commutes and over-sized crowds to not equate to positive experiences.

Perhaps the funniest thing is, San Francisco is expanding Moscone to make it better for larger conferences like Dreamforce. It doesn't matter that the real problem with Dreamforce isn't conference space, it's hotel space. While I used to think it would be crazy to move Dreamforce to a different city, I think that the crowd has overrun the local. Perhaps Las Vegas would be better. At least then, when some of us don't go, it will be less crowded here.

I suspect that my hate for Salesforce will only grow during my upcoming, exciting week of frustration at Dreamforce. I can't wait.

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