Dreamforce 2019: President Obama on the Direction of Tech

by Justin Lee

The first session of Day Three of Dreamforce 2019 may not have started until 8:00am, but for hundreds upon hundreds of attendees, there was one, absolutely do-or-die reason to start their day way earlier.

Barack Obama, 44th President of these United States.

Even though his fireside conversation with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff wasn’t scheduled until 10am, the line to get a seat was already out the door by 6am.  It was so long in fact, that it itself became a magnet for local news coverage.

With such anticipation, what wisdom did the former Commander-in-Chief have to share with the Salesforce users and digital marketeers that were so motivated to see him?

As it turns out, he had come to serve a warning.

Among other concerns, President Obama warned that “the rise of extreme inequality…is being turbocharged by globalization and technology.”

Really, that speaks to the point at issue I saw at the conference today.  Having the skill to leverage disruptive technologies like Salesforce’s can be the key to success.  But lack of that skill can just as easily be the reason why an enterprise, and people, can get left behind.

As we’ve seen in star-studded panels all conference long, new technology that can provide data-driven insights and that do more and more to personalize the customer experience, is simply ubiquitous, even mandatory, in today’s marketplace.

“This is a whole new economy!” Kris Lande, Salesforce’s Vice President of Trailhead Marketing, told attendees during her keynote on Salesforce’s training program.  By 2025, she explained, what she called the “Salesforce economy” will create 4.2 million jobs and $1.2 trillion of revenue.

Moreover, keeping up with this new economy means that users need to keep pace with a breakneck speed of technological change, the likes of which we haven’t seen before.  Alluding to President Obama’s warning, Lande acknowledged that “the pace of innovation is leaving some people behind.”

“Over 120 million people will need to reskill by 2022,” Lande continued.  “They’ll need to learn new skills like AI, IoT, and automation, to be part of this new economy.” Consequently, “lifelong learning is the new imperative” to stay relevant as digital marketing platforms change.

This though, should not be news to Modern Marketing Today readers!

Earlier this month, Joseph Galloway of KPMG shared his thoughts on how to change with the times, and how we should take small steps to benchmark initiatives and back them with the data and sales results that the technology can show us.  Similarly, Lenovo’s CMO, Sabra Willner, opined on how to make the make the smartest use of new technology—“a new shiny object”—and that best helps you connect engagement to demand.

So…from the perspective of a digital marketer, are we right to be concerned with being left in the wake of technology’s progression, as President Obama warned us about?  Sure.

But, as readers of Modern Marketing Today, we also have the opportunity to see what the trends coming down the pike will be, and because of that, we have the chance to apply those best practices so that we are the ones who are pushing the industry forward.

So stay on top of the latest insights and technologies in digital marketing and keep tabs on what’s happening at Dreamforce. Become a Modern Marketing Today Insider today!