Reflections on Connections 2023

by Jack Bailey-Grundy - June 20, 2023
Reflections on Connections 2023

Sat back in my office in sunny London as the dust settles after a whirlwind trip to Connections, I’m left to reflect on my time in Chicago.

I think the experience can be summarised in these three takeaways:

Salesforce sure knows how to put on an event

As a first timer at an event outside of the UK, I expected the event to be big, loud and full of great announcements and sessions. But it really surpassed my expectations. There’s something about watching Brandy, Einstein and Genie parade into the Campground, which really sets the tone. 

Whilst there might be bigger events on the circuit, the Connections schedule was jam-packed with highly relevant content for me as a Marketer. Sometimes my agenda was triple booked! As well as sessions, the show is full of highly engaging sponsors and demos. Sometimes, at large-scale events, finding the right people and content for your interests can be difficult and you can find yourself a bit overwhelmed. But at Connections, it felt like there wasn’t a wasted minute.  

Time to get GPT ready

By far and away the biggest announcements at Connections came in the form of AI. With the announcement of both Marketing GPT and Commerce GPT at Connections, it’s clear that Salesforce sees this technology as not only the future but here and now.

With GPT functionality stemming from Data Cloud, a clear data structure will be crucial for getting the most out of new features. This means that data hygiene is no longer something to just talk about. It’s something that needs to get done. More than ever, the mantra “Garbage In, Garbage Out” will ring true. So, it’s important to start taking steps now to resolve this. Think about what’s manageable in-house, but don’t be afraid to ask your customers to update their data too. Audit your forms to make sure you are asking for truly relevant information. Account Engagement’s progressive profiling can also be an excellent way to append new data to your existing records.

What does this mean for marketers?

Marketing GPT doesn’t mean that you will no longer need a human touch in marketing, but that your focus and key skills will change. Instead of designing content, humans will need to proof and optimise it. It’s clear that learning to ask the right questions or give the right brief will be a crucial skill. Whilst you can feed Marketing GPT your brand guidelines, you’ll still need to shape your campaign strategy.

For instance – Marketing GPT may be able to suggest images to use within your emails without needing to search through a library of thousands. This is thanks to a Typeform integration in the works (Safe Harbour!). But the images returned will still need to be verified and selected. Similarly, Marketers will still define segments, they may just be able to do this using natural language rather than criteria. The messaging is key – AI is here to help, not replace. As presented in the keynote, the idea is to allow AI to do the work and free marketers to “fuel creativity”, “unlock efficiency” and “scale personalisation”. 

And whilst AI tools undoubtedly deserve their own blog posts, my final thought is the emphasis Salesforce put on trust. With trust at the centre of all things Salesforce, it’s no surprise this was a core message. The idea that Salesforce’s AI tools will learn based on your own data, and no one else’s, felt very reassuring.  

The Salesforce Community is amazing!

I couldn’t sum up my Connections experience without reflecting on all the incredible people we met. From drinks reception hosts, sponsors, speakers and Salesforce employees, to fellow attendees in Circles of Success and hands-on demos, I felt welcomed wherever I went. As someone who finds networking a challenge at times, meeting people at Connections was a pleasure. People were so willing to share their experiences and expertise! If nothing else, I’d recommend attending Connections for the conversations alone. Roll on next year!

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