Dreamforce 2010

I spent the other day at the Moskone Center in San Francisco attending Salesforce’s annual conference, Dreamforce.  There were alot of people there, way more than I expected.  Last year it was crowded and big, but this year it just seemed gargantuan.

Marketo had a platinum booth this year, right in the front.  We had booth-babes, mascots and everything.  It was quite impressive.  I spent some time at the booth and did a demo for one lady.  After that, I spent some time roaming the aisles.  As you progressed further and further away from the front door, the booths got smaller and smaller.  At the back the booth was little more than a phone-booth sized sign with some handouts.

It is fascinating to see how many different companies link into Salesforce and make money in the ecosystem.  Salesforce is clearly doing something very right creating this environment for partners to “win together”.

At the end of the night, I filed into a giant hall to listen to Bill Clinton speak.  Check out the size of this room.  I think that is an entire city block with chairs.  My guess is 20,000 people, but I was never good at math.  Unfortunately, Bill’s plane was late.  (Why in the world was he flying in at the last moment?  Why not take a morning flight and be early?  It’s like he thinks he is the “president” or something.)  Anyway, they brought Stevie Wonder on stage to fill time.  I spent 45 minutes listening to Stevie babble about positivity and love.  I couldn’t understand anything he was talking about.  After that much time in an uncomfortable chair, I had to get up and leave.

I went to the Marketing Cloud after party at the MOMA.  Nice place.  They had a decent art collection including some pieces from Matisse, Picasso, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Jackson Pollack, Andy Worhol and others.

One funny moment, you may want to try this:  I ate a mint.  Mint disolves, mouth fresh, and a few minutes go by.  I pick up some sushi with a little soy sauce.  When I bite into it, my mouth explodes with the taste of mint. BOOM!  It was like a mentos-diet coke moment in my mouth.  It was, in an odd way, a little fun.  I wouldn’t do it again, but I was amused by the effect.  Give it a try.

Overall, I had a good time at the event and the party.  Conferences like this drain my energy enormously.  There is so much visual input that I just can’t take it all in.  There is an incredible of amount of design (good and bad) that goes into these events.  Some thoughts I had as a sampler:

  • Why don’t they make the giant room slope up from front to back so that people in the back could see the stage more directly.  Even a slight 1 degree slope would have made a world of difference.
  • Why are chairs so uncomfortable in the big room.  Can’t they be curved to cradle your back a little better or maybe have cushioning?  Is the cost really that prohibitive or is someone being cheap?
  • Should you make your booth shaped like a starburst where the middle are you and the people are ringed around you?  or maybe more like a ring where you invite people IN to the middle and you are on the outside?  Maybe like a path where you walk through from end-to-end?
  • Should you demo your product for people or try to just talk with them and set up a demo fro later?  Is this a numbers game or do you want to go deeper with people?
  • How do you know if your booth and your pitch is working?  Are there ways to test?  Do giveaways work?  What’s the best kind of schwag?

These questions were rattling in my brain all day.  UX is everywhere. It’s like the Allegory of the Cave.  Think about it.

One reply on “Dreamforce 2010”

The question is, why didn’t they have Stevie Wonder perform? Wouldn’t that have been much nicer?

As for the flooring, any degree increase that would be helpful (which would be a lot more than 1%) would be annoying. And maybe if they got Jimmy Cater instead of Bill Clinton they could afford good chairs (Clinton can get up to $250,000 a speech).

Another question. Who would you rather be. The guy in the booth, who is the man and making all the presentations, or the guy outside of the booth who says “I could be there if I want, they asked me to, but I’d rather just sit back, watch, and be proud”.

Whatya think?