Dreamforce: Industry Confab, Cultural Event, Or Populist Movement?

We walked as pilgrims to the Golden Gate to wander the forests of Howard Street and Moscone Center and drink from the fountain Dreamforce. There, we mingled — herded, really, by guides dressed as National Park Service rangers — with executives in snappy blazers and Trailblazers representing in black or sparkly hoodies. We gathered in San Francisco to listen and learn what Salesforce plans next. We walked away with these conclusions: 1) Salesforce is building an army of Salesforce administrators, developers, and architects to build the “Salesforce economy.” Trailblazer people and brands were celebrated everywhere. 2) The innovation pipeline is alive and well. Salesforce’s aggressive acquisition strategy is making it a leading powerhouse in enterprise software. 3) The entertainment and social-good agenda is loud and in charge. Alicia Keys closed the keynote; Fleetwood Mac rocked the evening; and Barack Obama opened a conversation on challenges of our time, including big pokes on technology itself. 4) CEO Marc Benioff feels a responsibility to unite customers, employees, and partners in a movement to give back to the world we live in. Oh, and there were lots of product roadmaps, customer success stories, and opportunities to network in every nook, cranny, and conference room in a 10-block radius.

Building Practical Future-Of-Work Scenarios With Augmented, Mixed, And Virtual Reality

This month, Microsoft began shipping HoloLens 2, the much-anticipated hardware upgrade from the original device (which was technically always a beta product). The new version sports a far better user experience: Technical improvements such as an increased field of vision, eye tracking, and an overhauled gesture control system make using the product intuitive, comfortable, and powerful. Momentum is starting to build within the X-reality space. For example, medical startup Medivis recently achieved FDA approval for a surgical use case for HoloLens. And Walmart’s CEO Doug McMillon said that because his employees were trained in simulations of active shooting situations, he’s “very confident that lives were saved and seconds were gained” in the Walmart mass shooting in El Paso, Texas. It turns out that, for all the fancy games — Pokémon Go in augmented reality (AR) or the recent Half-Life: Alyx in VR — the winning application for these technologies lies in reinventing the employee experience. Our new report, “The CIO’s Guide To Augmented, Mixed, And Virtual Reality,” offers comprehensive guidance on how to augment your workforce, improve employee experience, and delight customers using these still-developing technologies.

How To Get 10 Million Friends In 24 Hours: The Disney+ Story So Far

There was a time when it took real work to get 10 million customers of anything. The New York Times has fewer than 5 million subs. CollegeHumor, though wildly popular and backed by big-name celebs, has fewer than 10 million free subscribers on YouTube. What’s the secret to the magic 10? Be a monopoly holder of as much awesome content as possible. That’s Disney’s strategy with its Disney+ streaming service. With the promise of exclusive access to Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, Disney’s animated catalogue (including “Frozen,” which we just can’t “Let [It] Go”), and “The Simpsons,” more than 10 million people subscribed in the first 24 hours. This is despite the technical snafus that plagued the site on Day No. 1. Disney also depends on friends of friends. Verizon is offering its unlimited wireless and broadband subscribers a year of Disney+ free. From our recent, as-yet-unpublished survey data, 42% of Verizon wireless subscribers say they will probably sign up for Disney+ through Verizon. Overall, 30% of adults say they will at least try Disney+ in the coming year, more than twice the interest in Apple TV+. Even if only a minority act on it, that will be tens of millions of US subscribers by the end of next year, putting it within striking distance of the No. 2 service, Amazon Prime Video.

How To Get Consumers To Try New Things: Make Them Feel Like Old Ones

November has seen a flurry of new electric vehicle (EV) announcements. Inspired by Tesla, which currently holds the Nos. 1, 2, and 3 slots for all-electric vehicle sales in the US, other car makers want in on the game, though at this time EVs represent just 2% of all new cars sold in the US. Chevrolet, the maker of the Volt (No. 4, now discontinued) and the Bolt (No. 5), has been in this for a while, but as the year has progressed, new offerings were announced by Volkswagen, Ford, and even Porsche. November’s announcements were unique because they reflect an understanding of how consumers can be persuaded to try new things: by making them feel like old ones. First, Ford announced its premier Mustang SUV, the stunning Mustang Mach-E, available in 2021. Second, Tesla entered the home territory of Ford and other Detroit automakers with the Tesla Cybertruck. The launch event was both thrilling and completely shocking when Tesla Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen accidentally shattered Tesla armor glass. The third announcement was from Audi’s e-tron line, introducing its 200-mile range Sportback. The secret to the success of these vehicles will not depend on an appeal to people’s concern for the environment. The Toyota Prius, the Nissan LEAF, and Chevrolet’s Bolt and Volt models cornered that territory. Instead, these vehicles will succeed by persuading buyers that they are not complete novelties but extensions of the best of the past. Truck buyers want a truck; now, they can buy a really cool one. Muscle-car buyers admire the sleek Tesla Model S, but they still want a muscle car. Environmentalists might cheer at the coming success of these and other EVs, which are collectively expected to break the 1-million-units-sold mark in 2023, but drivers will celebrate that they got something they have always wanted — just better.

Need Help In-Housing Agency Capabilities? Turn To Your Current Agency

We’re frequently asked which agency capabilities should companies bring in-house and how. It turns out that 64% of companies have some form of in-house marketing capabilities that range from creative/content services to programmatic media. It might come as a surprise, but your current agency partners are increasing a resource to help set up, temporarily run, recruit, and train for the latest in-house functions. Isobar recently launched Accelerate, an in-house business solution to help marketers organize for digital transformation. Just this week, GroupM announced its plans to build a similar business solution for media. Be mindful, however: In-housing is not an all-or-nothing proposition. The purpose of Isobar or GroupM’s service is to help establish centers of excellence to work with external experts and specialists. The conscious blending of in-house and external expertise gives companies the control and expertise needed to advance their marketing, plus the talent and creative problem solving found in agencies.

Victoria’s Secret’s Cautionary Tale: When Intimates Fail To Be Intimate

Earnings calls can be particularly “revealing.” Victoria’s Secret (VS) parent L Brands shocked the world when it shared that it canceled the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Kidding — we were all rather waiting for it. The televised event struggled of late with poor ratings and poorer reactions as cultural tides turned against female objectification. Said CFO Stuart Burgdoerfer of the post-show VS, “ . . . [W]e’re figuring out how to advance the positioning of the brand and best communicate that to customers . . . ” Kudos to VS for ending a big-budget item despite its former glory. But the cancellation reveals a curious vacuum where brand building should be. Instead of specifying how VS would “evolve” its brand, the entire earnings call was dedicated to the blocking and tackling of commerce. No doubt, retail execution is paramount, especially during this crucial shorter holiday selling season. But Burgdoerfer admitted that, historically, VS assessed the event by looking at short-term sales gains post-show. No mention of brand equity or consideration, suggesting VS has fallen into the trap of prioritizing short-term gains over long-term goals or failing to properly measure brand metrics and build brand value. VS’s take that “we believe the most important thing is the quality of the merchandise itself, the quality of our execution, and selling in stores and online” fails to recognize that consumer perspectives on quality have expanded from assessing features and function to considering the whole brand experience — from advertising to purchase to use to help and ongoing engagement. Under this rubric, new brands such as ThirdLove that tailor the product to your exact needs win. It’s ironic that a brand so “intimate” with its customers could stray so far from understanding them. Our research shows that brands in a rut can adopt a customer-obsessed mindset through customer ethnography, empathetic problem-solving, and agile methods. It’s just too bad that VS didn’t put the order in before the holiday rush.