For marketing technologists – and for the brands they serve, integration will be a critical success factor in the future, so it is little wonder that integration is a key theme at this year’s inaugural Salesforce Connections conference in Chicago.

Salesforce’s acquisition of API vendor Mulesoft earlier this year was a clear signal of intent on that front. And yet despite the clearly unified efforts at Salesforce Connection around the unification story, on the floor of the show, technologists both inside the company and in its partner and customer community tell a more nuanced story.

Discussing the topic with both staff and clients it was clear, however, that things may not be as integrated as it seems. “Whilst the technology is integrating well together, the teams that run the technology aren’t talking to each other” one anonymous source said. “We are all using the same data but each of the teams is interpreting it in different ways. We have been so focused on linking databases together that we forgot to stop and ask ‘What business objectives are we trying to solve?’ ”

When asked to comment on the dynamics of integration Lee Hawksley, SVP, Salesforce APAC had this to say “We have a complex and board product offering. Each application itself is a leader in it’s own category. [However], we need specialists in each area to get the best out of the application… This is something that [that] we are getting way better at.”

When asked how teams should be working closer together Hawksley had this to say: “Ultimately, we want to tie everything back to a singular customer success metric.”

Key themes

Nobody can prepare you for an event like Salesforce Connections. Set in the urban district of foggy Chicago, Salesforce Connections boasts over 10,000 visitors and feels more like your walking around in a small airport rather than visiting a technology expo.

The key theme of the event is integration. Integrating your customer database with your website experience. Integrating Google Analytics with Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Integrating your sales teams with your operations teams. Everywhere you look the word Integration sticks out like a sore thumb.

Integration is so important to Salesforce that they purchased MuleSoft for over 6 Billion USD. This technology name is something that you will hear more and more about in the future. MuleSoft is the API to link all your other APIs together. It is the one ring to rule them all.

Salesforce is not alone on it thinking. Remember also, that Google bought MuleSoft rival Apigree for $US 625M with the same intent. At the time Google executives made it clear this was a technology purchase, pure and simple and it was more inwardly focused that outwardly so.

The MuleSoft UX is crude and rude with rough web pages with way too much white space and poor fonts which make it hard to read. However, don’t be fooled by its poor user experience. It is a beast of an application and may soon be the heart of how you link your customer database to your order fulfillment and on to your website experience layer.

However, the word ‘Integration’ may soon become a little overused. Much of the technology talk is about what ‘could happen’ to your business in the future. Trying to find somebody that is currently using the technology and wants to talk about it turned out to be a very hard task.

The bottom line: Integration is now the name of the game and, finally, with tools like MuleSoft Salesforce is in a much better place to technically get the job done. However, let’s not lose focus on the big picture: technology is not interesting for its own sake, it is there to serve a purpose – to help businesses flip more burgers for their retailers, put more bums on seats for airline companies, or to sell more loans and credit cards for financial institutions.

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