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Progress in Person: How Dreamforce 2022 Showcased the Rapid Pace of Change

Though only a few years since the last in-person Dreamforce, the confluence of new tech showed off the hyper-acceleration of pandemic-era innovation.

This year’s Dreamforce was a reminder of how far we’ve come since we last came together as an industry in person. 

Being surrounded by so much progress on display, it really hit home that we achieved the impossible by condensing years of innovation into a matter of months, especially in terms of product and customer experience. 

A distillation of advancement

McKinsey found that in the initial months of the pandemic, companies accelerated their digital portfolios by seven years. Now, a new norm is rising around this acceleration of change. All eyes are focused on how to go beyond surviving it to thriving in it.  

The digital commerce revolution and Salesforce Commerce Cloud were already taking hold before 2020, and no one would argue that the move toward multichannel sales was inevitable. However, adoption of new technologies was dictated more by budgeting cycles than by customer demand. 

Less than a third of all sales were in digital channels, according to the recently released Salesforce State of Commerce Report. A monolithic, ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach slowed expansion, and innovation was controlled and predictable. 

However, as traditional channels were severed two years ago, change came fast and furious. Digital commerce and new communication tools rose to the rescue. Priorities flipped overnight—companies had to forge new connections with customers and the wait to try something new was over.

Since then, chaos has ruled. Teams are constantly testing and pivoting as they navigate complex commerce channels to meet ever-higher customer expectations, all while patching together outdated systems. 

A new breed of agile marketers and merchandisers started crafting dynamic strategies that quickly shift to tackle the new challenges that pop up daily. It is scrappy and messy, but also rich in discovery. We’ve learned new ways to serve customers, innovate with teams, and approach technology. 

Harnessing chaos with composability

Dreamforce shed a light on the path that is emerging. Cycles of change and disruption are accelerating, and we must plan for the unknown. Composable architecture is the shining star guiding us forward. 

Much of the buzz on the event floor was about the need for flexibility and highly integrated ecosystems. Solutions must work more like lego blocks, quickly reconfiguring and repurposing existing resources in support of new business needs and market opportunities. Moving forward, this modular approach creates stability among the chaos.

“The quality of the relationships that we have with customers on an individual basis will be enabled by a digital experience we couldn’t see coming a few years ago,” John Furer, CEO of Walmart, recently shared with the National Retail Federation. That’s now impacting the application landscape moving forward.

In both the commerce and sales areas, the future is decidedly headless architecture. Nearly 85% of companies will have headless commerce in two years (Salesforce State of Commerce Report). 

By detaching back-end data systems from front-facing presentations, headless commerce and sales configurators bring out the best of both worlds. Data integrations behind the scenes allow teams to easily refresh product or marketing information in their own native applications and push real-time updates to sales channels without extensive manual transfers. Likewise, front-end presentations maintain their rich, engaging customer experiences without the need for substantial reformatting every time data changes. 

Composable technology provides a level of agility that shifts the way we view change. No longer is it an obstacle to avoid or scramble around. Now it is a catalyst for opportunity and competitive advantage. 

With headless architecture, companies can quickly pivot to capture exponential growth potential with new brand acquisitions, new product launches, new digital channels, or new global markets.

Welcoming change

Dreamforce reinforced the notion that advances made during the last two years are directly shaping how we approach technology in the future. 

Our tech stack must have the strength to solve the problems of today and the flexibility to navigate the unknowns of tomorrow. The pace of change is not letting up, but now we’re proactively setting the course to be better prepared for whatever may come.

Photo from @dreamforce on Instagram.

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Post by
Jill Mueller
Director of Product Marketing, Propel

Jill has a passion for bringing brands to life to drive strategic growth. Her experience in both retail and manufacturing provides a strong balance of marketing, development, and production knowledge. Most recently, Jill worked with private-equity-backed firms to identify and execute market growth opportunities, including channel expansion, product category launches, and global supply chain improvements.

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Jill Mueller