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Laying a strong foundation for AI with Data Cloud

By Katie Lewis, Dave Dixon, and Melissa Murphy
dreamforce keynote

Dreamforce was back and better than ever in 2023. Not only was it the most sustainable Dreamforce since its inception in 2003, but Salesforce continued to up the ante this year with extensive product innovations, new platforms, and features.

It was no surprise that this year’s Dreamforce was all about AI, with big announcements around Einstein Copilot (a new conversational assistant powered by generative AI), and the Einstein 1 platform. While many users will experience generative AI within the Salesforce platform through using Einstein 1, Copilot, and GPT, the data foundation underpinning all of these new capabilities is Salesforce Data Cloud.

Data Cloud overview

Data Cloud — Salesforce’s proprietary enterprise data platform — has expanded rapidly since its debut as Salesforce Customer 360 in 2020. From the Salesforce CDP to Genie, and now Salesforce Data Cloud, this platform has exploded with net-new features, functionality, and use cases over the past year.

Salesforce Data Cloud enables users to ingest data from various sources (CRMs, marketing tools, data warehouses, mobile applications, ecommerce data, websites, and more), unify individuals sourced from those ingestion points to create a single, consolidated view of that persona, and transform profile, event, and other data points into personalized, actionable data streams. End users are then able to segment that consolidated data, combined with the best unified view of their end customers, and activate those segments within other systems to drive sophisticated omnichannel sales, marketing, or analytics strategies. Data Cloud helps organizations automate their activations and target customers with the right personalized content at the right time.

Data Cloud has quickly evolved to include use cases across industries and business functions and expanded beyond the marketing use cases associated with its CDP origins. Data Cloud can now enable use cases for sales and service — such as alerting a salesperson to interactions their customer just had on the company website that indicate a buying signal, or by providing a service agent with a deeper understanding of customer activity that may indicate a customer needs special care or is at a high risk for churn.

Of the key announcements to hone in on, a couple stood out with great potential to move your business forward related to Data Cloud.

Getting started is easier than ever with Data Cloud $0 SKU

One of the largest announcements from Dreamforce was the Salesforce general availability (GA) $0 SKU for Data Cloud for customers with Enterprise Edition licenses and above. If you’ve been hesitant to get started with Data Cloud, this is the perfect opportunity to build an MVP use case for the platform, test the functionality that you think will drive value for your business, and build a case to utilize Data Cloud at scale.

What’s included in this offering?

  • Data Cloud Provisioning includes 250,000 Data Services credits, 1 TB of data storage, 1 Data Cloud admin, 100 internal Data Cloud identity users, 1,000 Data Cloud PSL, and five integration users. Unlimited Plus Edition customers will get access to 2,500,000 Data Service credits.
  • The two Tableau Creator licenses are a separate line item and can be quoted by your account executive.

Who is the target audience for this offering?

If you have a narrow MVP use case, this offering is a great way to demonstrate how the unification and reconciliation of your data can be a powerful driver for better actions and insights within your sales/service or analytics organization. Visualizing unified profile data in Tableau to better understand trends and patterns in your customer data is a great place to start. Note, it is not meant for marketing use cases as-is because segmentation and activation credits are not included, but they can be added on.

Data share at lightning speed: Zero Copy with Snowflake and other providers

Another standout innovation announced was the Zero Copy functionality from Data Cloud with the Snowflake data platform, which will allow users to access Data Cloud data from Snowflake, and vice versa without having to copy the data. This could unlock a variety of use cases such as leveraging ERP data from Snowflake for segmentation or incorporating Snowflake Marketplace data for deeper customer profiles. Salesforce announced plans to implement similar features for Databricks and Amazon Redshift in the near future.

Zero copy is a fundamental principle in modern data processing and analytics systems. It ensures that data processing operations can be performed efficiently without unnecessary data replication, which can be resource-intensive and slow. Instead, the data remains in its original location, and the processing engine accesses and operates on it directly.
This is an incredible move forward, enabling customers to access their data and process information without unnecessary data duplication or movement across major data platforms. Reducing the overhead associated with copying data between different systems or stages of processing is critical in a period when data residency restrictions are increasing, and will reduce data governance concerns, while simultaneously driving speed to value for Data Cloud adopters.

The GA functionality available today includes read-only access to Data Cloud data spaces in Snowflake via Iceberg data tables. Future enhancements to make the zero-copy connection bidirectional are on the roadmap. This is a trend toward an emphasis on data management at scale and a major opportunity for individuals who are looking to leverage Salesforce Data Cloud within their broader technology stack.

Key takeaways

There are a number of exciting platform announcements around AI and the capabilities of Salesforce Data Cloud coming out of Dreamforce. In order to unlock the power of AI, a strong data foundation is key. With the advancements announced at Dreamforce, Data Cloud can be that driver to connect your data across siloes, take action on it without difficult integrations you need to maintain.

If you’re energized by the potential of these platforms, but feeling blocked by your own data, you are not alone. Slalom has been a driving technical thought leader for Salesforce Data Cloud throughout the platform’s exciting journey, actively serving on the Partner Advisory Board and the Technical Advisory Board for Data Cloud, and delivering some of the largest Data Cloud implementations to date. You can learn more about our Data Cloud specific offerings and accelerators here.


This blog post was originally published here.

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