Perspectives on Attending Dreamforce

08/18/2011 by Justin Edelstein
I have attended Dreamforce the last three years making this year my fourth in a row. This will however be the first time I am attending as an employee of the same company for back to back years. I have a unique outlook on the Dreamforce experience ranging from Large Enterprise to Startup Consulting partner.

For the first time ever I am attending this year's Dreamforce with the same company that I worked at the previous year. It's amazing the perspectives that you can gain from attending such a large and engaging conference by attending it as an employee of such diverse companies. To set the stage this is my fourth Dreamforce which puts me in the semi-veteran category. My first Dreamforce I was attending as a system admin of one of Salesforce's top five customers in terms of licenses owned. If you listen to the CloudFocus Weekly podcast this is the company that Jason (@JasonMAtwood) and I talk about as being that large financial services institution. My second Dreamforce couldn't have been more different as I was attending as part of a not for profit organization that I was working for as their Director of Salesforce Strategy. Last but certainly not least at last year's Dreamforce I had just recently started Arkus, a Salesforce SI partner. What a whirlwind and what a difference a year makes. The special thing about Dreamforce is that no matter what size or type of organization you are a part of the event always delivers the goods.

Rolling with the Big Boys

As a part of that large financial services institution that shall continue to remain nameless I got the opportunity to meet some high powered executives and hob nob at some really cool after hours parties (which of course is what Dreamforce is all about afterall - wink wink). Aside from the great relationships I was also afforded the opportunity to attend the Salesforce offices and get a special roadmap session which I still miss getting to this day. We also were awarded an Appy for Customer Innovation which I was very proud of - it's too bad that they no longer do the Appy Awards - I miss them. One of the coolest parts about being from a large financial services firm is walking the expo floor. Everyone takes a look at that company name on your badge and they are itching to talk to you about their product or service - lots of attention and networking opportunities.

Doing Some Good In this World

Shifting gears to a much more modest not for profit organization was something that I was a little unsure about as far as the Dreamforce experience was concerned. I couldn't have been more wrong. The experience was absolutely amazing. The Salesforce Foundation makes you feel right at home, the special keynote speech by Colin Powell felt even more empowering, and the people on the expo floor were genuinely just as excited to talk to me a year later without my highfaluting corporation name on my badge. There was a special kickoff for not for profits hosted by the foundation to get us all acclimated to the sheer size of the conference. It felt really special to be able to stand up at that point in Marc Benioff's keynote where he says all the non profit organizations represented here please stand up and everyone give these folks a hand - I literally had goosebumps. I actually felt even more embraced by the Salesforce community during this go around.

Doing My Own Thing

Last but most certainly not least is last year's Dreamforce where I attended as a founding member of a startup Salesforce implementation partner. A totally different ball game attending Dreamforce as a partner. In some respects you get some great insights at the Partner Keynote where we heard from the ever present George Hu about the Salesforce partner program and got a sneak peek into the future of some platform innovations prior to the main keynote. In other respects walking around the expo floor without that customer ribbon on your badge is not at all the same as walking around with the partner ribbon. Not to say exhibitors aren't as friendly or engaging but they do tend to wander away as soon as someone with that customer ribbon walks over.

This year I will take another step in the evolution of my Dreamforce attendance. Arkus is now a sponsor and an exhibitor ourselves. I went from wanting to talk to every exhibitor on the floor to being someone that others will hopefully want to come talk to. It's amazing that in one year we at Arkus went from startup to sponsor and I'm looking forward to taking in Dreamforce from this brand new angle and perspective.

I want to hear about your perspectives on attending Dreamforce from year to year. Go ahead and comment on our Facebook page at or start up a conversation on Twitter at