October 22nd, 2012 by Kelly Liyakasa

You can’t service it, market to it, or sell to it unless you know what “it” is.

That was the synopsis of my sit-down with Andy Macmillan, senior vice president and general manager of Salesforce Data.com when the cloud software company touched down on the East Coast for its Cloudforce conference in New York City on Friday. I got the chance to see Macmillan lead a product keynote presentation out in San Francisco during Dreamforce a few weeks ago, and got a pretty good preview of what’s to come for Salesforce.com and Data.com customers.  

During our conversation, Macmillan spilled on a couple of highlights and trends he’s seeing and accounting for in the development of his particular product line. Although Data.com was first integrated within the Sales Cloud, there are possible implications for Service and Marketing Cloud users. Read on:

Data.com’s got a couple of new features. What’s Social Key?

Macmillan: “If you are social listening, and you come back with a list of handles, we can go provide you the business data that matches those handles – who is this person, what D&B  numbers’ associated with the account that they work with, which is how most people think about their CRM data today. We can also do the reverse, which is, you’ve got a CRM full of traditional data with email addresses and phone numbers and physical addresses and what I need to do is append the social information to that list of data, so I know who these people are on the major social networks and the things that they care about.”

Something about a “trust layer” came up at Dreamforce. What is this?

Macmillan: “It’s [giving companies] more controls to make decisions about not just having data, but [what the] engagement model [should be]. Things like: who has access to the data, who should see the data, will it be for marketing campaigns or individual sales, or for inbound requests, and we think that’s really important because the engagement model will be really different by brand and by industry, and also because  ‘norms’ change over time as well. Three or four years ago, if I was interviewing somebody and they did a bunch of research on me on LinkedIn or what not, I would have been surprised, but now it’s strange if I interview them and they haven’t. [That's an example of] a norm that has changed and the same is true as our customers go into social business and become social enterprises. They are looking at, “How does my brand engage on these channels and I need to think about that from what I sell or provide as a service or what those norms are over time.”

Andy Macmillan, svp and gm of Salesforce Data.com, chats with Joanna Bloor of Pandora, a Data.com client, at Dreamforce. Credit: Jakub Mosur Photography

Dreamforce brought a slew of product announcements from Identity, to the mobile Touch platform to file storage with Chatterbox, and Communities for Service and Partners. How does Data.com fit into the equation?

Macmillan: “When you look at the Ideaexchange where [Salesforce.com] customers share with us what they’d like to see in the product, what we’ve seen in the last couple of years is tons of requests around helping manage data, having the right data. There are lots of people out there who provide data or data integration solutions and we think the problem is that they’re not focusing on how the users work. When they need data, how do they use data…so my core customer is a Salesforce.com customer who is looking for data in the Sales Cloud application. We’re going to look at other clouds in the future as well. There’s interest to help solve data problems in Service Cloud and Marketing Cloud. The Sales Cloud opportunity for us has been tremendous…we kind of hit on a core challenge for customers, which is managing data in the app…we’re hearing the same thing from other clouds, i.e. marketing customers saying ‘I want access to more data and I want to do better segmentation and know who these people are online’ and there’s interest in consumer data, which we haven’t gone into yet, but which pose interesting opportunities to us…and I think we’ll look at those the same way we look at the Sales Cloud.”

What’s a key “social data” challenge for companies?

Macmillan: “I think the challenge for customers is that there’s a lot of great technologies around social, and social graphs, but they’re really struggling with the data set itself. Let’s say I have a customer database with hundreds of thousands of customers. I don’t know who those people are online. And it doesn’t even need to be to outbound market to them. It may just be when a customer posts something on Twitter about having a problem with whatever their product is. Can my service desk even know that that person’s a customer, who they are, and engage with them. When we talk to our customers, [especially the] ones who are really making the transition of their business into social-one of their biggest challenge is having the dataset to go with them to make those transitions.”

The need for social data on customers and prospects is growing fast. It’s a testament to the evolving desire by customers to have deeper relations with companies and more importantly the desire for customers to connect with others.

Knowing when a person is voicing an opinion or asking for a recommendation to solve a business issue is a key piece of information for sales, marketing and support employees to use.

Applications like InsideView leverage thousands of news sources and social profiles to provide employees with key insights directly into their CRM.

It’s exciting to see companies like Salesforce developing this technology. Knowing applications like Insideview already use social intelligence can help businesses now.

Comment by koka Sexton — October 24, 2012 @ 11:46 pm

Thanks for reading, and your thoughts, Koka! Agreed-it’s certainly a point that crosses into sales, marketing, and support like you mentioned. I had the chance to speak to Umberto Milletti recently about these same topics, ie. Relationship Manager, People Insights, etc., and it’s been really interesting to see all this movement.

Comment by Kelly Liyakasa — October 25, 2012 @ 9:16 am

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