What is Dreamforce? #DF11

by Michelle McGinnis on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 in Digital Marketing

Today marks the kickoff Dreamforce 2011 so, if you work anywhere in the cloud computing space, you’re probably hearing something about it. But you may be asking, “What is Dreamforce?”

There’s the short answer and a longer answer. Here’s the short answer: Dreamforce is the most anticipated cloud computing event of the year.

But what does that mean? As a barrage of tweets, pics, blogs and news articles spread out across the Web today, we decided to take a few minutes to give a more detailed answer for all those scratching their heads and asking, What is Dreamforce?

What Dreamforce Is
Established nine years ago by CRM provider Salesforce.com, Dreamforce has transformed from an event for customers into an annual pilgrimage for those throughout the cloud computing industry. (For a more complete history of Dreamforce, be sure to check out the infographic Eloqua and JESS3 cooked up.)

While Dreamforce serves as a platform for the new product announcements from salesforce, it’s also hosts networking opportunities, tons of sessions on a wide range of industry topics, keynotes from political, cultural and business leaders, and a massive exhibit floor. It’s a four-day spree of music, talks and exhibits held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

what-is-dreamforce

Dreamforce By the Numbers
To give you a sense of the scope and size of Dreamforce here are some relevant stats.


  • Last year, 23,000 people attended Dreamforce. Registeration for Dreamforce 2011 is up above 42,000, according to Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff.

  • The number of exhibitors has grown from 50 in 2003 to 270 this year.

  • 474 sessions are scheduled for Dreamforce 2011. Sessions run across multiple tracks and topics, from sales and marketing to nonprofits and developers.


While there’s no official list, a huge number of parties are thrown around the event – though we’re partial to the party we throw with Astadia.

Who Goes to Dreamforce?
According to Salesforce’s own data, attendees come from as many as 40 countries. At Dreamforce 2010, 40% of attendees were Directors or higher. 21% of attendees were at VP, Executive or Board level. 39% of attendees came from organizations with 1,000 or more employees.

Dreamforce has attracted some big name speakers and musicians including, Bill Clinton, Eric Schmidt, Stevie Wonder, George Lucas, Malcolm Gladwell, Michael Dell, Neil Young and Colin Powell, to name a few.

What Dreamforce Veterans Say
Sometimes it’s best to ask expert. That’s why we posed the same question to a few folks that have attended the event year after year: “What is Dreamforce?”

“Dreamforce is a revival meeting for people passionate about their business more than anything else. I can' t think of any other user conference that has evolved into something that's predictably that awesome with passionate people learning, connecting and enjoying being a part of a community of like-minded folks. It's not just sales people, either. You get a nice dissection of disciplines and expertise there and the knowledge that is on display from speakers and panelists is impressive.” – Jason Falls, author of Social Media Explorer.

“It’s a number of different things. One, it’s just inspiration from community. You have enormous breath of different kinds of companies and the number of tracks has gown so much that there’s a lot to learn. And it’s absolutely about the networking. That’s one thing you just can’t get outside the event.” – Jeff Grosse, author of CRMFYI.

"You could say its a conference, where analysts, reporters, customers and prospects come together to hear the latest and greatest news about Salesforce. I myself am always looking forward to seeing Sassy... I am wondering if she knows that Jargon is coming this year? Jargon is the GetSatisfaction's manifestation of all things not to do in social media...Whereas Sassy represents all the things that are on target for this new social customer marketplace. I have a feeling love is in the air!

I think that more than anything Dreamforce is really a tribute to doing things differently. You may not agree with everything that's said there. You may have your own perspective on the where the market is and what you think the week's events mean for business. But there's one thing that I think everyone can agree on. Its a week of celebrating doing things different." – Natalie Petouhoff, noted expert on the social enterprise and CRM.

(Disclosure: Eloqua and salesforce.com have a variety of customer/vendor, sponsorship and other arrangements between the two companies.)

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