I’m just in the first few hours after Dreamforce, 2012, in San Francisco. I’m sipping on a calming tea to tame my mind which is overflowing with ideas, thoughts and tidbits.
I was lucky enough to listen to some amazing speakers including Sir Richard Branson, General Colin Powell, GE CEO Jeff Immelt and many more. Dreamforce is an invigorating conference and you can’t help but leave with a river of ideas.
Here are 5 ideas and thoughts that I took away from the conference related to data in businesses:
1. Data will be as social as other information - all the metrics dashboards and data plugins for tools like Salesforce are just the beginning. Real data is going to match the way that social is changing work and processes and collaboration. One example is from a panel discussion on changes in work would be a world where data on people’s skill sets is used to match people to individual tasks more efficiently through internal peer reviews on a company social network.
2. Data will ‘talk’ to other data - I can see data points interacting with other data automatically. Sounds a little crazy but GE is already looking at building social networks around the machines where a jet engine can alert an engineer to any problems and more efficient methods using the engines use data. Imagine a data point (like a Facebook complaint) automatically being linked with other data points (like a poor survey score) and the two data points triggering an action for a customer service person to give attention to the account.
3. Businesses are spawning metrics dashboards and potentially oversimplifying data - there seemed to be a lot of interest in dashboards and metrics but spawning a dashboard isn’t the end of the story. Be careful. Data can tell a complex story that needs time and effort to understand what’s really going on. Social gives us a lot of data but with great power comes great responsibility. I’ve previously written articles about how researchers, analysts, database engineers and CRM administrators, for example, will all need to work together (bringing different areas of expertise) in a team to pull together strong data intelligence across the organization.
4. Tracking the individual to provide tailored customer service - so much of the conference was about the cloud and social media enhancing the customer experience and there was a great session on how non-profits use cloud tools like Salesforce to track their individual cases. The social collaboration has helped them track progress on the individual with a lot of detail and that functionality can extend to customer satisfaction data. I don’t mean oodles of surveys but a mixture of customer service data at each phase like response times, and qualitative feedback, likes and dislikes, short surveys and social media comments. Completing a holistic understanding of your businesses interaction and service level with each individual customer.
5. Content usage and impact tracking is hard but needed - I talked to a few companies that were struggling with how to understand the level of impact their content was having on their brand. Sure, you can tracks clicks and page views and viewing time on some content. But not all data is easily track-able and the length of viewing doesn’t always equal impact. There’s also the issue of internal content and what types of content is being used by different teams. This will be a growing area as collaboration tools like Salesforce introduce even better content sharing options, such as their new chatterbox feature.
These are just a few ideas and thoughts from a week of interesting sessions and great music. Dreamforce showcases an awesome array of tools and possibilities. It’s certainly an exciting time to be working with numbers and using the technology innovation to improve data intelligence.