Dreamforce 2018: 5 Key Takeaways For Oil & Gas

By John Freeman and Ross Benton

It was another great week in San Francisco for Dreamforce 2018. With over 150,000 attendees and four days of jam-packed sessions there was much to do and see for all. As with previous years the energy and oil and gas industries had a strong presence at the event with presentations ranging from upstream all the way through retail power.

After taking a couple of days to process the week’s activities there were several noticeable trends that we think bear sharing:

  1. The conceptual is giving way to the actual: There’s a reason for all the buzz about Salesforce.com on Wall Street and that is because many industries have already realized the power of Salesforce as a platform and all the tools that have been built around it. The oil and gas industry has been contemplating the use more broadly for the last couple of years with efforts around transforming the supply chain, handling water-hauling logistics and creating a 360-degree view of the field being the more prominent undertakings. This year, however, was clear in demonstrations by the industries’ major players that they understand and have embarked on harnessing that power for themselves. Programs for creating and maturing citizen development, enterprise adoption and true digital transformation are in place and rapidly moving forward. The scale has tipped from analysis to action.
  2. There is a hunger for new ways of doing business: Whether it’s a growing acceptance of opening IT up for the business, embracing new technologies or the adoption of new delivery models the energy sector is displaying a growing hunger for doing things differently—i.e., breaking up “business as usual”. This has interesting implications, not only for an organization’s competitiveness in the marketplace, but maybe more importantly, for its competitiveness of human capital. With the well-documented aging of the energy workforce companies may need to turn a serious eye towards operating in a way that attracts and retains the type of people that want to make a difference. Technologies that enable digital transformation are at the core of creating that environment.
  3. Transformation through integration: At the beginning of a Mulesoft demonstration, a question was asked: “How many of you have had transformative solutions roadblocked by integration issues?” The demonstration that followed shed exciting light on the power of Mulesoft and the transformative capabilities of profoundly easier integration efforts. Using Mulesoft, integration layers are built once and re-used like a library. New projects can be freed from constraints previously caused by integrating with aging systems and aging systems can be updated and/or sunset on a timeline that makes best sense for the business. This has serious implications for the ability to move forward with digital transformation projects.
  4. Citizen development is coming to analytics: Salesforce has a consistent track record of taking complex technologies and making them accessible to the masses with its approach of clicks/not code. It is clear that artificial intelligence (or “AI”) is next on the list. The Einstein suite of products continues to grow and mature while becoming easier for citizen developers to setup and manage. We’ve all seen voice-to-text capability, but with the new Einstein Voice, your voice can now trigger data updates and creation as well. Couple that with the recently announced partnership with Apple, and we expect to see an incredible experience for mobile users, strengthening the ability to “run your business from your phone”, which has been a powerful selling point for the platform over the years. Another exciting feature is Einstein Prediction Builder, which allows you to easily create and monitor predictive AI models based on any data set stored in Salesforce—with no coding required.
  5. Growing adoption as an enterprise application (spreadsheet killer): As Salesforce consultants focus on oil and gas we are often asked about how to use the application outside of its traditional wheelhouse of CRM. We often advise people to look for areas of the business with a reliance on spreadsheets to handle business activity. It turns out that this was a growing emphasis with many of the organizations that attended Dreamforce. Time and again we have heard people describe how they were settling on the platform to help aggregate the mountain of information that is spread throughout their enterprise in spreadsheets, inboxes and custom-built, one-off business applications. One attendee even mentioned that the first question they ask themselves is: “Can this be done in Salesforce?”.

There were many other ideas and trends that were worth discussing, but these five seemed to rise to the top. If you have any other impressions/thoughts, we’d love to hear about them. For more on how Opportune can help drive your digital transformation strategy in partnership with Salesforce, contact our Process & Technology team and we will initiate the introduction to our team to assess your requirements.


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About the Authors:

John Freeman is a Director with Opportune’s Process & Technology practice in Houston. John has 20 years of sales and delivery experience in business-to-business sales with a primary focus on technology and process improvement. Prior to Opportune, John was an Enterprise Business Development Executive for Deloitte Digital (formerly Third Wave Consulting) where he led Salesforce implementation for oil and gas clients. Before Deloitte, he was a Senior Account Manager for ElementBlue/ SensorInsight where he was responsible for increasing sales and account base for an IBM systems integrator. John is a graduate of Baylor University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

Ross Benton is a Director in Opportune’s Process & Technology practice in Houston. Ross has over 10 years of process, technology and software selection and implementation, sales and project management experience. Prior to joining Opportune, Ross was a Senior Consultant/Delivery Manager at Third Wave Consulting where he developed scope and pricing for new business opportunities (in conjunction with sales), consulted and managed Salesforce implementations and development projects and coordinated resource allocations for all projects in the Houston market. Ross earned his Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Texas A&M University. He is also a Salesforce Certified Administrator, Platform App Builder and Sales Cloud Consultant.

John Freeman

DirectorOpportune LLP

Ross Benton

DirectorOpportune LLP

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