Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Dreamforce and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch

Note: I actually wrote this on the train leaving San Francisco on Tuesday night. Sometimes I sit on drafts for a bit, deciding whether I agree with what I wrote a couple of days later. This still seems amusing in the post-Dreamforce light.

Day one of Dreamforce 2015, come and gone. We came. We faced the crowds. We did some sessions. Ate some food. Drank some beverages. And we're done. No after-parties for us, we're on the commute circuit, tucked in with the workday masses and the Giants' game refugees that needed to leave early.

This Dreamforce is... like a post-apocalyptic Dreamforce. It's like some time in the past, that which was Dreamforce died and what we're dealing with now is the echo of Dreamforce. Maybe it's Benioff. A lack of involvement. A lack of interest. A Jumped the Shark sort of thing. This Dreamforce is many things, but it doesn't seem like one thing -- like the culmination of a Salesforce moment. This Dreamforce seems like there is no... community, no us, together. Instead, it is the Salesforce masses, drawn to the same location at the same time, with a similar clock, but nothing tying us together.
Today's Salesforce is not an echo of one more thing. Today's Salesforce is here's a bunch of stuff that I've kind of told you about. Perhaps the most (potentially) revolutionary change is a new interface -- something that, in reality, is six to nine months away for most users.

I've been to a bunch of these, so it's interesting to see the difference -- the change -- from the way that it's been. First, a few notes:
First of all, worst sound guys this year. I went to several sessions today where the speaker could barely be heard. The funniest one was at the Palace Hotel, where even though they had speakers to fill the back audience, it sounded like the presenters were using a bull horn from the front. About midway through the session, the sound guy woke up, turned up the volume and the mike started to feed back, only to see the speaker wander around the stage looking for a way to manage it like he was Jimi Hendrix. And it still wasn't very loud.
I sat through one session at a movie theater location where the sound was so miserable, it was like the speakers had no amplification. It was kind of funny because between the sound and the comfortable chairs, it was probably the best session for napping.

At the tradeshow/vendor/partner event, I was surprised to see how uncrowded it was. Relative to years past (and in tradeshow terms), it was dead. No crowds. Perhaps there were more outside parties. Perhaps it suffered from a lack of a coordinated introduction. Say what you will about Benioff's dog-and-pony presentations, it did serve to focus the crowd. Tonight's event seemed like an afterthought. The largest crowd that I saw was for Informatica, where they were giving away $10,000.
But more importantly, what's the take-away from all of this? Crowds? Fragmentation?

Honestly, I think that this is the story of... something.... that has lost itself. It doesn't really know what it's supposed to be -- except that it's annual and that there's a band. But other than that, it's lost. It doesn't know it's mission. It's many things, but it doesn't really know where it's going.

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