Dreamforce day 1 report

I could be watching a Black Crowes concert right now at the Moscone Center. Instead, I’m back in my tiny hotel room looking forward to spending the rest of the evening knitting on Laini’s sweater while watching Glee. Much better plan. Long day.

Before I kick back for the night, here’s some of my thoughts/impressions of the day.

The nonprofit Salesforce community rocks. I love spending time with these people. Consultants, fellow nonprofit staff members, vendors, Salesforce Foundation employees. Doesn’t matter. More great conversations than I can count. Thank you. Looking forward to tomorrow and Friday once the nonprofit track sessions begin.
Last year, there were about 11-12,000 attendees at Dreamforce and it was overwhelming. This year, there are 19,000 people here and it’s just ridiculous. I’m not usually claustrophobic, but there were a few times today that I felt the air closing in on me. There’s a point where going that far over capacity/expectations begins to diminish the experience overall, and I think Dreamforce hit it. It’s like going to DisneyWorld during Easter break.

Marc Benioff’s keynote was a mixed bag for me. It started out strong with a rally cry for cloud computing, lots of back patting about how awesome the Salesforce.com platform is, and some nice product announcements that earned applause: Salesforce Content will be included in the basic apps (it’s currently at extra cost), much improved report GUI, and a peek at the new user interface.

And it went downhill from there.

The wifi and AT&T 3G signal was beyond bad, but I got online enough early in the keynote to read about Salesforce Chatter well before it was mentioned in the keynote. It was on the PR wire and covered by the major tech blogs. Benioff tried to build up the suspense for Chatter. He danced around it and around it and around without revealing the name or giving details. He wanted to reveal it as the big moment a la Apple’s “One more thing.” It fell flat. Apple keeps the store closed and the blogs/news sites quiet until after he first mentions the product. We silently begged him to just get on with it. Maybe it was that we were now nearly 3 hours into the keynote. By the time he got to giving specifics about Chatter, a good part of the room had already walked out. There was only word to describe the mood of the room at that point: uncomfortable. Or maybe just cranky and tired.

What is Chatter? In short from where I’m sitting, it’s realtime business conversation and collaboration within and around Salesforce. Over simplified, think of LinkedIn meets Facebook meets Yammer meets Twitter. I want to be as excited about it as some of my friends are. I’m not there yet. All I could think of was, “one more conversation stream I’m supposed to follow?” And I’m going to try and get C3 staff to engage on this? Not there yet. In a year when there’s real use of this and I can touch and play with it maybe I’ll feel differently. Right now, I’m more excited about the new reporting interface.

Note to Expo vendors: When an attendee comes up to have a conversation about your product and she mentions that she is from a small nonprofit organization you should probably mention that your typical implementation of your ecommerce solution runs around $100,000 before you spend 10 minutes on a demo. Just sayin’.

I only attended one session today. Getting around was just too much of a hassle with the crowds, and there was nothing I was dying to go to. I’ll watch the recordings later regardless. I’d much rather talk to lots of smart people which I can’t do as easily from home.