October 24 by Patrick Wolf

Quote-to-cash session from salesforce industry partner theature

Maybe an understatement, but industries are a large part of Dreamforce. From the 7 Salesforce customers selected to represent individual industries, to the dozens of sessions speaking to the industry challenges and potential solutions – they were front and center this year in San Francisco. Walking around the expo floor you couldn’t help but run into the Industry Theaters sprinkled in the middle of every walk path. After listening to numerous sessions and spotlight theatres one thing is clear, 2016 has been a volatile year, leaving no industry untouched. Regulatory pressures are at an all-time high and new technology is shaking up incumbent business. Below are the 5 industry trends most spoke about on the stages and floor of Dreamforce 2016.

1) The NOW! Generation

As a result of new technology (smart phones, internet, and connected devices), the public (and your customer) has been trained to expect instant gratification. The Digital Revolution has empowered customers by eliminating barriers to information. Simply put, customers have higher expectations and less patience for difficult or unsatisfactory experiences. The customer expectation, however, is not limited to needing goods now. Your customer expects convenience. Think requesting an Uber from your phone with three movements of your finger. B2B buyers especially have come to expect the same levels of convenience and service as many B2C companies (Uber, Amazon, Netflix, etc.) provide. This new reality is placing excessive strain on all companies as they attempt to shift how they do business – no matter the industry.

the Now! Generation

2) Increasingly Stringent Regulatory Requirements

No matter the direction you lean on the political spectrum, it is a fact that we are in an unparalleled period of regulatory complication. From Healthcare, to Lifesciences and Financial Services, stringent regulatory requirements are forcing companies to drastically alter business processes. In particular, the ever changing and evolving ACA guidelines (and its market effects) require frequent updates to plans and rules, thereby increasing the cost of plan and price maintenance. Dodd-Frank’s influence in the financial services sector, while established over 5 years ago, is still evolving as businesses attempt to stay in head of regulatory and market forces. Such concerns were present across Dreamforce, making their way into keynote sessions and simple conversations alike.

3) Technology Disruption

Woman wearing a Virtual Reality headset

New market entrants on the scene are savvy at leveraging mobile, analytics and IT, as well as lower cost options, to gain the competitive edge over incumbent business. These options often have a hand up, sacrificing entrenched capital and expenses, for more agile, often online, solutions. One of the most popular examples is present in the Financial Services industry, in which financial technology companies are breaking the dominance of the major players in innovative ways, including the use of robo-advisors. The advent of robo-advisor is challenging the traditional model, and driving consumer demands for greater flexibility, transparency and a reduction in fees. Another example: constantly evolving high fidelity technology keeps enabling new ways to produce, present and consume entertainment that blurs the lines between producers and consumers in media. Market disruption is not limited to the two instances described above, but instead pervasive throughout every industry.

4) Security

No matter how angry people get about the incredible lines for the TSA, security is at top of mind for every business. In particular, cyber security, with plenty of high-profile attacks, is of major importance to business – and their customers – no matter the industry. Of particular importance to the financial services industry, banks are actively beefing up their fraud prevention departments. But the worry is by no means limited to Financial Service, all major companies are building up their security capabilities to avoid what seems to be a growing threat from the unknown.

5) Customer is King

No matter where you were on the floor of Dreamforce 2016, one trend rang out: it is all about the customer and creating best possible customer experience. As product offerings and competition become tighter, building the optimal customer experience is emerging as the new differentiator in business. No matter the industry, no matter the company, market disruption is forcing companies to rebuild their foundation around what the customer wants – not around the product or technological capabilities. Drafting an experience that supports and interacts with customers through their desired channel – or creating an omni-channel experience – and delivering these interactions quickly, is essential to take advantage of this customer revolution. In many respects this involves embracing what has been complained about for years – the millennial and their connected mindset.

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