Update: The Gang is scheduled to start around 1:30pm.
From the inside out, salesforce.com is a rapidly growing cloud computing company at the head of the enterprise social wave. From the outside in, the company’s annual Dreamforce conference has landed in downtown San Francisco on the Moscone Center campus. Each year the conference grows in size, with more than 45,000 attendees streaming in this year.
I’ve been employed at Salesforce for more than a year and a half, and in that time I’ve seen a steady march toward the goals that attracted me to the company. Many of these advances will be revealed over the course of the conference, freeing me at last to discuss and place them in the context of the Social Enterprise. With the coming release of iOS 5 and the continued advance of Android in the mobile space, the opportunity for using the social stream to improve our personal and business lives has never been more tangible.
Most notable in this moment is the collapse of Microsoft as a driving force in the evolution of technology. Whether it’s the reluctance to cannibalize existing Office and Windows revenue streams or the inability to fight off Android’s I’ll Take It From Here of the low end of the smart phone market, Microsoft has no serious club to bring down on anybody who wants to move from the desktop to the Tablet.
The problem is, no one cares about Windows. It’s so low in the stack most people don’t realize it’s there, and besides they’re spending most of the minutes of the day and night on Safari or Android or anything mobile. Anything but Windows is also followed closely by Anything but Office, and soon at a theater near you, Anything but Outlook. You may not believe it yet, but email is being routed around. Take my teenaged daughter, who lives in Facebook, or my youngest, who lives in FaceTime. Texting and Twitter.
The problem with email is more than the traditional spam firehose. It’s the lack of a social lense across the firehose of interruptions that stream unfettered into your devices. Without a sense of priority, the ability to triage in realtime, you’re at the mercy of the rapid buildout of social technologies that harvest the expanding concentric circles of your most trusted advisors. They are your friends, colleagues, partners, educators, thought leaders, and influencers of the stream. You follow them, @mention them, retweet and accelerate the dynamics of the implicit groups they form around and next to each of us.
This undulating stream of metadata informs the value and importance of these social objects in ways email can’t compete with. As social networks improve, we make investments in the multiple ways we can signal value to each other. The model has flipped from the InBox to the OutFollow; we register with more socially-aware constructs that mine our meta signals to construct a series of trust relationships built around a sharing model.
With the release of iOS 5 in a few short weeks, this socially-tuned priority stream has a powerful new home in the push notification queue. Instead of leaving one app to check email, we are notified in a non-interruptive drop down alert as things happen. As we let these alerts accumulate you can triage the messages you don’t respond to immediately. But realtime is not about reacting, it’s about absorbing a sense of the flow, the rhythm of the interactions between people, projects, reminders, collaborative ideas in the now. As with Chatter in the enterprise, you develop a subtle institutional memory that lets you stage news, documents, chats, video, even email, in a socially adaptive priority stream.