The ultimate goal of bringing customer data together in a Customer Data Platform (CDP) is to create more meaningful customer experiences in real time. So far it’s been bigger than real, but today Salesforce is announcing Genie, a real-time data integration platform, at the Dreamforce Customer Conference that aims to make that dream a reality.
At its core, Genie is a new data integration model that underpins the entire Salesforce platform with the goal of moving data where it’s needed most, and doing it quickly.
Patrick Stokes, executive vice president and general manager of platform at Salesforce, says this is probably the biggest news from Dreamforce this week. “Genie effectively enables the world’s first real-time CRM,” he said.
“So we’re announcing that our Customer 360 apps – sales, service, commerce, marketing, everything in our Customer 360 portfolio – now have access to a whole new way to bring data into Salesforce in real time at a scale that we never could. we’ve never been able to achieve before. And with that, our users can orchestrate real-time customer experiences against those datasets,” Stokes explained.
Previously, the company had built data integrations based on transactional data from the Salesforce CRM database. It dates back to 2007, when Salesforce announced plans for Force.com at that year’s Dreamforce. Stokes said Genie is the modern equivalent of that first attempt, using a data lake the company built to store data instead of a transactional database.
“We connected this Lakehouse architecture to the Salesforce platform, which, on a technical level, literally means, we taught it about Salesforce metadata, which is how all of our services communicate with each other.” This approach also allows the platform to work with external services and data repositories. In fact, the Snowflake integration the company announced last week is built with this technology.
But Genie is more than just a data integration layer. By allowing data to flow faster and more freely, it opens up all sorts of automation possibilities, especially when you combine it with Einstein for AI and machine learning and Salesforce Flow, the company’s workflow tool. ‘company.
“If your platform can suddenly talk to all this new data and that data is coming in real time, you can use our automation layer like Salesforce Flow to orchestrate real-time workflows or automations, but only if the platform can keep up with the speed of change and the volume of data coming in,” he said.
Part of the ability to move faster beyond software-level architectural changes is that Genie runs on Salesforce’s own cloud infrastructure, Hyperforce, which was announced in 2020 as a way to move Salesforce data to the public cloud. In this case, they use it to move data between Salesforce and other services, both within the platform and to other data sources like Snowflake or Amazon SageMaker.
He adds that this ability to move data in real time (or near real time) creates what is essentially a graph of customer data.
“When you connect all these different data sources to Genie, whether directly or other data lakes like Snowflake, you’re modeling the data. You basically connect it to a data model. And when you do that, you create a graph of how all of that data relates to each other, regardless of where it is in a particular system of record, which is incredibly powerful,” Stokes said.
Liz Miller, analyst at Constellation Research, says shifting to a new data model is a must-have business move in pushing CDP beyond marketing
“Honestly, what I find most important about this is that Salesforce is moving in the right direction with their vision for a customer data platform. They don’t treat a CDP like it’s a a marketing toy to market things in. Instead, they turn CDP into a foundational layer of unified, standardized, and persistent personalization and intelligent segmentation that benefits the entire frontline customer experience in sales, services and marketing,” Miller told TechCrunch.
Sheryl Kingstone, an analyst at S&P Global Market Intelligence who has covered the CRM space for years, agrees that the key to this change is building the data mechanism in a way that this valuable data can be shared more widely.
“They’re really focused on building this as part of what I would say is a real platform with all the trappings it needs to work, and hopefully that creates what I call a ‘platform’. -form of customer intelligence”, which ensures that you don’t have multiple different CDP silos. And we can finally have that single source of truth and run it.
The combination of tools has the potential to be able to make things happen based on data and the situation without requiring human intervention, and that can be powerful. But Kingstone says the human side still matters, and companies need to learn how to put data into the hands of the people on the ground who work with customers.
It’s going to be a huge challenge, no matter how sophisticated the technology, but Salesforce is trying something big here that’s never been done before by changing the way data moves across the platform. Whether this really leads to better customer experiences, online and in person, remains an open question.
Unlike many Dreamforce announcements, customers don’t have to wait until next year for Genie. These new features are available now.