Salesforce created a data lake to transform the way customer data moves across the platform • TechCrunch

The ultimate goal of bringing customer data together into a customer data platform (CDP) is to create more meaningful customer experiences in real time. Until now, it was more ambitious than real, but Salesforce announces Genie, a real-time data integration platform, today at the Dreamforce customer conference, which aims to make that dream a reality.

At its core, Genie is a new data integration model that underpins the entire Salesforce platform with the goal of moving data wherever it’s needed most and doing it fast.

Patrick Stokes, EVP and GM of the Salesforce platform, says this is probably the biggest news coming out of Dreamforce this week. “Genie effectively enables the world’s first real-time CRM,” he said.

“So we’re announcing that our Customer 360 applications – sales, service, commerce, marketing, everything in our Customer 360 portfolio – now have access to a whole new way of bringing real-time data into Salesforce at scale that doesn’t. we’ve never been able to reach before. And with that, our users can orchestrate customer experiences in real time against those datasets, ”Stokes explained.

Previously, the company created data integrations based on transactional data in the Salesforce CRM database. This dates back to 2007, when Salesforce announced plans for at that year’s Dreamforce. Stokes said Genie is the modern equivalent of that first attempt, using a data lake the company created to store data rather than a transactional database.

“We connected this lakeside architecture to the Salesforce platform, which on a technical level literally means, we taught it Salesforce metadata, which is how all of our services talk to each other.” This approach also allows the platform to work with external services and data stores as well. In fact, the Snowflake integration announced by the company last week is done with this technology.

But Genie is more than just a layer of data integration. By allowing data to flow faster and more freely, it opens up all kinds of automation possibilities, especially when you combine it with Einstein for artificial intelligence and machine learning and Salesforce Flow, the workflow tool of the agency.

“If your platform can suddenly communicate with all this new data and that data arrives in real time, you can use our automation layer like Salesforce Flow to orchestrate workflows or automations in real time, but only if the platform can keep up with it. the speed of change and the volume of incoming data, “he said.

Part of the ability to move faster beyond software-level architectural changes is that Genie is running on Salesforce’s cloud infrastructure, Hyperforce, which was announced in 2020 as a way to move data from Salesforce to the public cloud. . In this case, they’re using it to move data between Salesforce and other services, both on the platform and to other data sources like Snowflake or Amazon SageMaker.

He adds that this ability to move data in real time (or near real time) creates what is essentially a graph of customer data.

“When you connect all of these different data sources into Genie, be it directly or other data lakes like Snowflake, what you’re doing is modeling the data. You’re basically connecting it to a data model. And when you do that, you create a graph of how all of that data is related to each other, regardless of where they live in a particular recording system, which is incredibly powerful, ”Stokes said.

Constellation Research analyst Liz Miller says moving to a new data model is a much-needed move for the company pushing CDP beyond marketing

“Honestly, the thing I find more important than this is that Salesforce is moving in the right direction with its vision of a customer data platform. They don’t treat a CDP like it’s a marketing toy for marketing stuff. Instead, they are transforming CDP into a core layer of unified, normalized and persistent personalization and intelligent segmentation that benefits the entire customer experience at the forefront of sales, service and marketing, ”Miller told TechCrunch.

Sheryl Kingstone, an analyst at S&P Global Market Intelligence, who has been in the CRM space for years, agrees, saying that the key to this change is to build the data mechanism so that we can share this valuable data more broadly.

“They are really focused on building this as part of what I would say is a true platform with all the resources it needs to function and hopefully will create what I call a ‘customer intelligence platform’, which ensures that it won’t work. you have multiple different CDP silos. And finally we can have that one source of truth and put it into practice. ”

The combination of tools has the potential to be able to make things happen based on data and situation without requiring human intervention, and this can be powerful. But Kingstone says the human side is still important and that companies need to learn how to put data in the hands of the people in the field who work with customers.

It will be a huge challenge no matter how sophisticated the technology is, but Salesforce is attempting something big here that has never been done before by changing the way data moves across the platform. However, it remains an open question whether this truly leads to better customer experiences, online and in person.

Unlike many Dreamforce ads, customers don’t have to wait until next year for Genie. These new features are now available.

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