It’s been a big week for Salesforce. Its annual Dreamforce 2022 conference — which saw an estimated 40,00 in-person attendees — delivered some big innovations and announcements. According to the keynote presentation from CEO Marc Benioff, Salesforce is one the biggest enterprise software companies in the world, including the leader in cloud-based CRM. Their impressive growth in the last few years shows no signs of slowing as the company pushed its long-term revenue target to more than $50 billion by 2026 in its investor day event that took place during Dreamforce.

The company made a bevy of announcements at the event, but two major announcements caught my attention, warranting further analysis: Salesforce Genie and Slack Canvas. The first will completely shift Salesforce’s existing CRM to enable real-time capabilities, applications, and uses that weren’t possible before. The latter will help the company finally realize the potential of its Slack acquisition and increase its ability to compete with the likes of Microsoft and an ever-growing collaboration marketplace for an even larger piece of the business tech pie–Something that has been part of the Salesforce talk track for some time, but is now much more within reach. Let’s break these down.

Salesforce Genie: Magic in a Software Program

Salesforce itself called its new Salesforce Genie offering its “biggest innovation in 20 years.” Its goal, like every other CRM on the market today, is to create a real-time single source of truth for businesses so that they can create hyper-personalized content and, in turn, create tighter relationships with customers. From one day to the next, businesses use hundreds of different apps to move their companies forward. In the past, uniting the disparate information from all of these different sources has been nearly impossible. But Salesforce Genie aims to conquer the issue for good, pooling and harmonizing data, as the announcement put it, into a clearly reconciled, comprehensive customer portrait.

Salesforce Genie in effect is a data integration model that works with Salesforce’s existing CRM platform. It aims to move data where it is needed at the right time. This will turn the CRM into a real-time data, insight, and action machine which, until now, has only been an aspiration and not a reality.

In an era when third-party data tracking is on the outs, Salesforce Genie could be a huge asset. It could help businesses match the right audiences with the right products on the right channels at precisely the right time. A silver bullet for marketing and customer experience, which is perhaps why Salesforce likes to refer to it as “Magic” in a way. Genie has the potential to be the force that finally allows all of Salesforce’s disparate tools to work together in the way customers have always hoped they would. Also, for those wondering: Eventually, Genie powers will also be added to other Salesforce tools like MuleSoft and Tableau.

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Initial thoughts on the Genie announcement are that Salesforce knows it’s facing growing competition in the CDP and CRM world. Combined with Einstein AI, as well as recent flexible public cloud data deployments and integrations with Hyperforce, Salesforce is making it clear that it has zero plans of letting any part of its market share go. However, any first mover advantage here will be short-lived as I fully expect its competition in Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, and others to continue pushing for greater real time and AI capabilities. Furthermore, pricing will be in focus as well as enterprise pricing for Genie versus value will surely be in focus as the offering hits the market.

Unleashed Collaboration with Slack Canvas

While Genie was the main headline, I was personally more intrigued by the advancements that were made by Slack and Salesforce. I’ve long felt that Salesforce had a compelling suite of offerings that could truly realize what it is calling the “Digital HQ,” however, it has lacked the complete vision and tools within Slack to meet the evolving landscape of work patterns and collaboration in its previous iterations.

Despite that, Since the acquisition last year, Salesforce has been touting integrations that will maximize productivity and enable flexible work in one environment. And while that wasn’t really the case before–especially in comparison to the comprehensiveness of Microsoft Teams, I do think it is becoming a reality with the advent of Huddles and now Salesforce Canvas, a new surface where work teams can organize and share information from multiple sources. The workspace is envisioned to be a digital headquarters where teams can connect conversations, apps, and automations in one place. According to the Dreamforce presentation, there are more than 2,500 apps in Slack, and the goal is for all of them to work in Canvases in the future.

The move is a smart one for Slack — and the first big announcement since the acquisition. In the past, its bookmarks and pins left a lot to be desired. They were hard to use if they were used at all. Canvas will connect systems of productivity with systems of record, allowing teams to get information quickly, generate time-saving automations, build low and no code apps, and better serve customers — all without leaving Slack. The impressive solution, which has been in beta testing for some time, will allow users to compile files, messages, and multimedia into a template that can be stored and accessed later.

In case you’re having trouble understanding how a Canvas would work in real life, imagine the employee onboarding process. With Canvas, HR can easily create a Canvas with every link, training video, document, etc. that a new hire needs to know with limited tech knowledge needed. You can even embed workflows on every Canvas page that could order new employee requirements like mobile devices, laptops, business cards, and other requirements in a seamless manner without ever leaving Slack.

Looking Forward

In focusing on forward-facing developments like Genie and Canvas, it seems clear that Salesforce is aware of the growing competition in the CRM/CDP space and likewise intends to feverishly defend its CRM market position.

These announcements, along with the others that came out this week, showcase Salesforce’s continued and strong focus on growth. At the end of August, the company announced Q2 revenue of $7.2 billion, up 22 percent year over year. And while both of these new announcements won’t be in GA until sometime in 2023, it’s looking probable based upon the company’s recent forecast revision that the numbers will continue to climb over the next several quarters. Salesforce has a track record of delivering outsized results, and while there were many valuable updates and announcements at this year’s Dreamforce, my belief is that its Salesforce Genie and Slack Canvas have the potential to be momentum builders for Salesforce and will be critical to the company continuing to realize strong growth as we head into an even more complex macro and business environment.

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