Creating your own pathways through the cloud

Companies like Microsoft have many types of customers, but by embracing cloud they have multiplied their impact on IT’s everyday dilemma – the rogue customer.

Meet the customer where the customer is – a truism pervasive to sales and marketing speak over the past few years – is now also the overall motto where IT meets business.

James Staten, Chief Strategist Cloud and Enterprise at Microsoft, spent a few days in Stockholm at IP Expo Nordic  and a few minutes with me on the balcony overlooking the trade show floor. Just off the stage speaking about the end of the era of IaaS we were looking at the specifics behind his statement:

“Hybrid Cloud is the future and Microsoft will continue to invest in the dynamic interchange and complexity of public cloud and on premise computing.”

The Microsoft Cloud offers customers a global infrastructure with 30 available, and 36 announced, datacenter regions. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella just confirmed this commitment on Oct 3, 2016 by adding several European countries to the list of countries hosting or acting as hubs for their datacentres. And by introducing a novel concept where access to customer data is controlled locally through a trustee – T-Systems International in Germany. Thus addressing the continuous resistence to placing and handling data outside of your jurisdiction which is particularly fierce in Germany.

The dilemma of empowerment and control

In 2010 we could still put everything into boxes and linear progression charts

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This linear layered view of computing vs cloud as illustrated by industry expert R Wang in 2010 was a nice illustration of where the -as-a-Service had disrupted traditional IT – but this no longer applies: It is being disrupted by the citizens=users themselves.

“Just about 15% of the world’s developers have the highest level of skills required to build advanced and full scale deployments on Iaas (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) but there are 10 times as many developers who have excellent basic coding skills in various languages who are creating business value for the enterprise,” James Staten explains. “If you then consider that there are 80 times as many people in the world who can code and deploy to a selected cloud platform, there is a nightmare scenario out there from the IT Operations perspective which can inhibit innovation and growth.”

James Staten is a visionary. As a former Gartner and Forrester Analyst   and ex-CMO he is an expert at connecting the dots and creating a cohesive narrative.

To understand the reason why Microsoft believes in the hybrid cloud and is leaving the focus on -aaS combinations, you need to understand who your customers are and under which assumptions they operate.

 

Historically, IT called the shots when business needs were met in the enterprise. And even structure lovers like myself, can see that what the architecture of today’s large enterprises mostly resembles is a maze. But with today’s tools at their fingertips, customers want to do their own thing. And the challenge is on the IT management to keep it safe and secure despite everyone going rogue on them.

When basically everyone can or can learn to code, or at least subscribe to cloud based business process applications they could deploy themselves, the infrastructure has been disrupted by user behaviour. Just like a path created by people simply trying to find an easier way.

James Staten feels that if you support the developers by providing them with the tools they feel comfortable with as they navigate safely in the Cloud, you are also helping IT to stay in control of their infrastructure and protect their investement in existing platforms and processes. This is where among others the Microsoft Azure Security Center wants to help  IT managers sleep at night.

If we want to achieve true developer empowerment in this next generation of cloud, we have to encourage more coders to be productive with their existing skills. We can do this by letting them program with the languages they want to use — and are most appropriate to the type of app they are building — giving them reliable and consistent access to as broad a set of services as possible, and doing this in such a way that leverages open source and open standards. You want their processes to be painless and intuitive to encourage productivity and be applicable across the needs and services that your business operates and leverage where your customers are when they want you there. (Source: Geek.ly “Cloud Empowerment should not stop at highly skilled developers” by James Staten)

Star struck

When you meet people like that, who have visions that reach beyond and above, you should always remember that they are people who want to make the world a better place – in this case, James Staten even held my phone when we took the img_0928traditional SpeakerSelfie – and I am still slightly shaken by the encounter.

Hope to meet again soon at another conference somewhere in the universe to continue our conversation.

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, and if you would like to see what a rogue customer can look like, here’s one. (Photo courtesy of Miroslav Trzil)

< Disclaimer> Image has no connection to the interview topic or person interviewed.

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What really happened at IPExpo Nordic Sept 2016

Cloud or not Cloud is no longer a discussion we need to have at IT trade shows – for most companies today, it’s by default. The discussion is not about the technology platform, it revolves around the transformation which cloud has enabled.

IP Expo is a trade show  on Cloud and Infrastructure, Cyber Security, Datacentre, Data Analytics and Developers. Vendors use it as a platform to show off new technology, and delegates to educate themselves with training sessions and workshops – and some stellar keynotes. It’s held held annually in the UK, but this year for the first time in Stockholm as a pan-Nordic event.

Overall, there was a gap between the vendors’ view of the IT shop floor and how we work, and the visions and experiences of the  Nordic IT professionals listening to thshowflooreir pitches.

 

Among the 52 exhibitors, there very few were outside the box, so to speak. Mostly, they were addressing singular IT challenges such as cyber security, infrastructure or offering access to the “Cloud” ( eh, what!?).  I am not saying it’s not important, just saying that we need to maintain a broader perspective.

 

You can check out some of the exhibitors and their messages and posts on the IP Expo Nordic Facebook page

Transform – don’t wait for digital, it’s already here. And bring your own lunch

Of course, as the conference program is very congested – no scheduled lunch or coffee break (a NO-NO in Sweden, organizers!) – you cannot possibly get the complete picture if you are not a machine and can sustain yourself on battery energy alone. So naturally, I did not see all the aspects of the messaging and content delivered at the sessions, but delegates I spoke with agreed that from their perspective there was really very little news. As a learning experience, it did not quite deliver.

Out of 81 speakers, only 9 were women (!)

The non-profit organisation Womengineer with their programs to engage large corporations in empowering more women in engineering both in education, trainee programs and in careers was given a small corner on the trade show. Luckily, they also had their own session which was extremely well attended, despite the more glamourous main programme in the auditoriums. Similar to the worldwide efforts to inspire girls to code, Womengineer holds Introduce a Girl to Engineering Days – mark your calendars for the next event on March 17, 2017.

Aroshine Munasinghe, Head of Business Relations at Womengineer and Jenny Stenström, blogger had checked out the gender balance  in the conference program – and including themselves, there were 9 female presenters out of 81. Quite unusual for a high profile conference in Sweden.

And I encountered many professional women in the various sessions.

 

Barbará and Carla from Lisbon, Portugal and were extremely satisfied with the content of the sessions and the high technical standard of many of the presenters. Among their personal highlights was Susanne Fuglsang in the Digital Transformation Panel who literally took center stage in challenging a lot of preconceptions on what digital susannefuglsangtransformation is about.

 We should stop speaking about digital transformation – it has already happened. We should focus on making the transformation a strategic objective in top management and more importantly middle management where resistence to change is prevalent.

(Susanne Fuglsang, Executive Producer, Another Tomorrow)

 

Len Padilla of NTT echoed this very well in his Digital Transformation session tugged away in the basement and coinciding with Trend Guru Alexander Bard’s glamourous keynote. Happy to say, we were at least 25-30 people who were brave enough to go against the celebrity flow and took some practical advice in the dungeon, as Len called it.

Not only do you need to involve more levels of your organisation in the process, you need to enable those managers who’s job it is to “keep the lights on”. They are the least willing to take risks, so to truly transform you must learn to encourage and reward risk taking and the consequent potential failure. (Len Padilla, NTT)

Smarter citizens – not devices

What IPExpo Nordic showed, was the obvious focus these large players and other software vendors have on the Nordics as a market, and the effort they are making to gain momentum with their key messages.

The keynotes from Microsoft, IBM and Amazon Web Services were all delivered by some of the company’s top speakers and all on what PR professionals call “on message”.  Gleefully interrupted by a worldclass presentation on how the CIO of the City of Stockholm, Ann Hellenius, and her team will make Stockholm the world’s smartest city.

How? Not by adding infrastructure: We have that already with Fiber Optics Bands reaching 30 times around the globe covering the greater Stockholm area.

No, by defining a smart city as the merger of human, financial and technological interactions to achieve the highest quality of life and the best environment for business. The main focus here is the interaction between citizens and services, between human and machine.

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The best digitalisation is when you do not notice that it’s there (Ann Hellenius, Stockholm City CIO)

Making sense of the data – the Big data

IBM’s visionary Rashik Parmar  addresses similar thoughts on the concept of smarter cities– but at IP Expo Nordic, illustrating that the focus of the presentations was not on the vision but on the product, he showcased IBM’s cognitive intelligence Watson instead.

(The program also had an encounter with Furhat the Robot Head, but alas, Furhat and I are yet to meet in person, so to speak).

The potential of this technology of course is enormous, and the Nordic audience, albeit not new to the concept, can relate to the potential of using cognitive intelligence to make the world a better place.

Some of us covering IT innovation, gadgets and business opportunities combined, are always looking for the killer app. For Watson and alike there are many, and Rashik Parmar introduced just one: using Watson analytics to “listen” for cracked wheels on long distance trains.

This is a really important job that used to be a manual one, with a railroad worker hitting with a hammer on each and every wheel at each stop to listen for cracks. According to Rashik Parmar, the ability to filter out everything but the sound defining a crack is unique to the Watson technology – the sheer amount of data involved and the processing required to make this a seamless process and not create delays is unique (at this stage) to IBM’s technology. And this saves lives.

No more -aaS abbreviations, let’s all code

Microsoft’s James Staten, Chief Strategist Cloud and Enterprise Division (The Era of IaaS is Coming to an End) warmly enthused about the hybrid cloud being the future and where Microsoft will continue to invest heavily: The combination of on premise computing and public cloud as a strategy.

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What Microsoft has probably realised is that they need a broader audience for their products and concepts in order to meet today’s real customers – the so-called citizen developers  as defined by Gartner.

Basically, it means that end users are taking over the world of software applications because everyone today can learn to and uses code. And Microsoft wants to help IT departments stay in control via Azure Security Center, among other concepts. Read more on the visions and strategies for Cloud in my exclusive interview with James Staten in my next blog post due in a few days.

Listening to Amazon Web Services Technical Evangelist Danilo Poccia was perhaps not as inspiring for leaps of thought, but all the same very useful and constructive. The Amazon Journey to the Cloud was just that – his step by step introduction to and presentation of the various services in the Amazon Web Services portfolio addressing today’s needs among developers and IT departments.

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The journey as a strategy is what captured the interest of one of the delegates I asked right after the lights were turned on. Per Nordahl, IT Strategy Manager at Telia, found that Amazon could focus more on the journey when walking through the services as a case – many larger enterprises can relate to this story of digital transformation.

 

What is innovation – can we capture this elusive pimpernell

Amazon defines innovation as (f = mechanism + culture).

Unfortunately I could not reach Danilo Poccia to ask how to attach some real metrics to this. But I think an equation like that could help many businesses quantify and qualify their rate of innovation ultimately to get more senior management buy-in for those crazy ideas we all know we need to stay ahead of the game in a digital world.

The Swedish Model – Or The Importance of being “Lagom”

Lagom is the ticket to successful integration in Sweden

Where else in the world can friend and foe in business and politics exchange their views in an inclusive, open and collaborative setting where everyone equally gets their say, and audiences engage and contribute – and criticise. Disciplined. Cilivized. Respectful. – Getting together on an island to debate everything from ethics to politics. This was Almedalen Week July 2016

Who gets to lead? Whoever shouts the loudest?

Watching the rallies from the US presidential elections always makes me wonder what happened to politics being the voice of the people. There really isn’t much room for debate or separate opinions. It is all about who shouts the loudest, who creates the best TV broadcast friendly setting with American flags, banners or sound bites on signs lifted high by a religiously enchanted audience. They all agree at a rally. Of course they do – they are handpicked to do so, I assume. And the sound bites are carefully crafted, and really not anybody’s opinion. I learned that from the documentary The War Room  on Bill Clinton’s election campaign.

ST. LOUIS, UNITED STATES: Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton (L) waves to supporters as he holds the hand of his wife Hillary, 22 July, 1992 after speaking at a rally. St. Louis was the last stop on the Clinton-Gore campaign's bus tour. The crowd was estimated at 40,000. (Photo credit should read TIM CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton (L) waves to supporters as he holds the hand of his wife Hillary, 22 July, 1992 after speaking at a rally. (Photo TIM CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

 

Feministisk Initiativ

Gudrun Schyman, leader of the Swedish Feminist Party, at a meeting in Almedalen rebuking the speech given by Prime Minister Löfven earlier – with facts, arguments and civility (Photo by the author)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Almedalen on the Swedish island of Gotland, at this annual gathering of everybody who is anybody (and a few nobodies like me) in Swedish society, it appears we all agree despite disagreeing strongly.

It’s just that nobody is shouting. If you do, your message simply won’t be respected. You can say things with emphasis, you can criticize, you can argue, you can disagree. But you let your opponent finish their sentence, you do not raise your voice or shout insults. Everybody is allowed to be there. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. They are not your mortal enemy, they are just different.

It’s called diversity. It’s called freedom of speech. It’s just lagom.

There is no translation for the word lagom – it is a state of mind, a way to view life and human interactions. And relationships. And the weather. What is lagom?

Picture1An urban myth claims that the amount of mead in a viking drinking cup being passed around a group of warriors must be “lagom” – as in be enough for the entire team. “Lag” means team in Swedish. Pass it around the entire team for everyone to have a sip.

 

 

Raised to be lagom

The Swedish Board of School Education  states that in 2015, 94% of all children aged 4-5 attended municipal kindergarden/daycare. If you dive deeper, you realize that an impressive 88.4% of all children living in Sweden with immigrant parents attended these kindergardens. And they are all brought up with the concept of lagom as a way of life and human interaction. This is integration at it’s best.

On a lighter note, here’s a nice review of the differences between a Swedish boyfriend brought up along those principles, and what you could experience with others.

And it’s not a new phenomenon – it’s an integral part of the Swedish welfare state where the decade long focus on gender equality in the home and in the workplace has meant that generations of Swedes today setting the tone and the agenda in business, politics and academia were brought up to be lagom. Brought up to be considerate, attentive and inclusive.

It’s not that easy to be lagom

I am an immigrant myself, coming from Germany, then Denmark and now Sweden. And these are three entirely different cultures in terms of human interaction and behaviour. I will never really be part of this tribe; my values may be to be both considerate, attentive and inclusive – but I am certainly not lagom.

It’s an acquired trait, you restrain yourself from voicing disagreement, you avoid standing out in confrontative situations and you must not take the last cookie on the platter. I can do neither.

But I often meet immigrants and children of immigrants who are mastering the skill and have become part of the tribe in a way I may never be. Amazingly enough, being lagom also meant that when I joined Refugees Welcome Stockholm at Almedalen last week to quietly, orderly walk around in my pink vest, I was stopped by locals and organisations and thanked for our efforts.

Our purpose there was not to shout – it was to remind politicians, opinion makers and media of the fact that these people need help, not rejection.Karin

Karin, a police volonteer from the hectic days of autumn 2015 at the Stockholm Central Train Station stopped me in my pink vest to thank Refugees Welcome Stockholm for continuing our efforts

 

 

 

 

Rosa Stationen – A Refugees Welcome Stockholm integration project

35,000 people came to the Almedalen Week this year in July. That is as many people as Refugees Welcome Stockholm (RWS) received and assisted during the influx of refugees in the autumn months of 2015.

In the autumn and winter of 2015, local Stockholmers, passers by, volonteers from help organisations, young and old rallied at the Stockholm Central Train station to help these people not just with the bare necessities of life but into a new and meaningful existence. It takes a lot more than food, shelter and clothing.

Read more about some of their fates here:  When disruption becomes tangible – stories from a train station. Europe September 2015.

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RWS created Rosa Stationen  a meeting place, where the volunteers who were persevering at the train station, continue their involvement by exemplifying and teaching refugees how a Swede respects and values you and your opinion.

It’s not really a survival technique for refugees – being lagom

Sometimes it is difficult to convey to these people, because the trauma and the fact that they survived their perilous journeys and made it this far, is not because they were lagom in anything.

It’s more likely that they had to be fierce, persistent, loud. It is very plausible that these qualities, which ensured their survival, are also the ones who can obstruct a successful integration. A Swede brought up on these ideals has difficulties interacting with and understanding behaviour as “un-lagom” as this. Being “un-lagom” myself, I can relate.

The focus of the newly arrived is on finding jobs to learn the “Swedish Way” which is so much more than learning the language. It will be a long journey for them, but many of the volunteers at RWS have made similar journeys themselves, as children or more recently as young adults.

And they are the most successful, most warmhearted, most outstanding human beings I have ever met. Despite being just lagom.

  • If you would like to learn more about the Refugees Welcome Stockholm integration activities, take a look at the Refugees Welcome Stockholm Website , follow us on Twitter or join our Facebook group
  • The next big project is #GeBarnenAndrum (Create a Safe Haven for the children). You can volunteer or support the effort with a donation

It is through the children we ensure the future and they are the ones who need a safe haven the most.

 

 

 

Successful disruption in a digital age

While you are still struggling to wrap your head around the buzz of Big Data and trying to develop a digital strategy for your business, here’s news for you: It’s not the hype of Big Data, or digitalization, or social media that characterizes those who are on today’s winning team. It’s not about digital strategies – it’s strategy in a digital age:

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This was the most retweeted phrase of the entire session, delivered by McKinsey speakers at the Salesforce Speed of Change city tours across the Nordic capitals.

When you evaluate the steps needed to win in today’s fast changing markets and business environments, it becomes clear that your company must focus on what you are really providing. Not what you think you are selling, but what your customers need to fulfill a basic need. Regardless of whether you are in B2B, in B2C or a government or non profit organization, take it one step further and you can learn from the winners of the past.

Remember the Maslow pyramid of basic human needs? Try to match them against the game changing technologies we see today, and you will see that the main driver behind change is not technology itself but what it can do for you.

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The privileged among us are catered for at the bottom of the pyramid. That’s when  “social” takes over.

The success formula behind all social networks is not that they deliver an app to your mobile device. As Martha Bennett from Forrester suggested during the Speed of Change Nordic City Tour: “You sell the outcome not the device or the service”.  Social networks have changed the way we do business, the way we connect in our professional and private lives, and the way machines and devices are connecting simply because they use data to fulfill the needs at the top of the pyramid. Through the mining of this data technology – by making your data speak –  vendors and disrupters in the digital world  provide a sense of belonging, help us to gain respect for our achievements and put ourselves at the centre. Which – by the way – is why we manage to survive from the moment we are born and make the first fierce cryout for food and comfort.

There are many examples of industry or market disrupters but despite being disruptive in their day, they do not necessarily survive and thrive, as competitors catch up and technology evolves to create new patterns of behaviour in business processes. If you look at the companies that have changed an industry, such as how media is consumed or how basic grocery goods and services are delivered, they successfully disrupted because they catered to a basic human need.

So what is your strategy in a digital age? Disrupt, reinvent, adapt – or be disrupted.** It’s as simple, or complicated, as that.

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The “ambassadorization” of business

Human civilization emerged from tribes – as individuals the early humans would not have survived. The same applies today . No one can survive in a silo, be it a company, an industry, an organization or a department.

Once you realize that, you understand the power of relationships as the foundation of successfully connecting your needs to those of others upon who you are depending. That is why the current mantra in modern marketing is engagement. Every process, every action, every transaction is connected. If you push, someone or something has to move backwards. If you pull, someone or something is moving towards you. Pushing and pulling at the same time creates engagement. When you engage your audience, your partners or your employees, you create a tribe.

ArntEriksen (2) Speed

At the Speed of Change event in Oslo on April 16, 2015 (organized by Salesforce), trendspotter Arnt Eriksen focused on the power of tribes that develop into movements which ultimately could change the world. You could claim that the Arab Spring – using Facebook as it’s vehicle – started as a tribe and ended as a movement. Similary, Apple started building a tribe, a community of followers who wanted to think differently about computing. And ended up changing the world by engaging with them, changing them into devoted followers (tribes) and making them it’s strongest, devoted and forgiving ambassadors.

Artistic         Collage

(Artist: Maja Eriksson)                                   (Artist: Maja Eriksson)

When you have a purpose that can unite your tribe – such as the Arab Spring – and you have the vehicle to engage with each other – such as Facebook or other social channels – you can become successful as a business in the digital age.

“Convert strangers into customers – and nurture them into ambassadors” (Arnt Eriksen)

A new success criteria has emerged – Speed

 “The clock starts ticking as the customer starts clicking” (Jody Sarno, Forrester)

Companies that are able to anticipate their customers’ needs have a clear advantage in our world of rapidly changing customer demands. Speed is of the essence. Companies across the world are looking for ways to understand not just what has happened, but what would happen next so that they can meet the customer without having to cross a divide.

The challenge is how to adopt a framework that provides the platform for speed.  Everything is becoming more and more connected.  Many call this the internet of things, but we could also look at it as simply an opportunity to connect with our customers in a whole new way, an Internet of Customers. In fact, over 75 billion things will become connected by 2020, and this leads to trillions of customer interactions.

Making the data speak

Each interaction represents a data point, a piece of history that can be used to understand what will happen next.  Today, retail companies like Rossignol create a social profile of their customers to offer services like modifications to the equipment to help the skier’s performance, or a training regimen based on his actual use. Hospitals want to track patient behavior – from patient activity levels to blood pressure to help provide a better standard of service and care. And energy companies are collecting data from big machine performance, or seismic activity and weather data to try to get more effective at preventative maintenance of their oil rigs. It’s using the data to predict the future which should be the foundation of the Big Data hype.

Companies want to transform how they sell to a customer, deliver better service, create targeted campaigns, build better products, optimize operations. And business people need the right insights to take action, instantly.

Join Salesforce at our Nordic Speed of Change City Tour in April. We are coming to Helsinki, Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm. More information and registration for free at www.salesforce.com/eu/speed

Affärshantering i molnet – så tänker vi (post in Swedish)

Hur öppen, flexibel och användbar är din plattform? Hur ofta behöver du uppgradera dina affärssystem, och när det väl händer: är det synkroniserat så att alla är uppe och på samma version på samma tid? Diskuterar ni Cloud teknologi vid fikabordet?

Utvecklas dina lösningar till mobila devices, eller måste du vrida på surfplattan för att få med hela interfacet, eftersom det var byggd för en datorskärm?

Kan du uppdatera dina kundmöten, godkänna fakturor, bygga workflows medan du springer över gatan mitt i Stockhkolms-trafiken? På din mobil?

Det är så man tänker på salesforce.com när man utvecklar lösningar för affärshantering i molnet. Det var Cloud Computing som gjorde det möjligt, men det är vi som får det att hända. Du och jag.

Om man verkligen vill förstå hur allt detta spelar ihop – hur teknologin används för marknad med smarta verktyg byggd i och för social, som säljverktyg och som connected kundservice – då kommer salesforce.com faktisk att bjuda på gratis inspiration. Den 15 oktober på Grand Hotel i Stockholm hålls Customer Company Tour Nordics – en gratisk heldagskonferens (på engelska) med runt 30 utställare och keynote och eftermiddagssessioner där kunder berättar om hur de använder teknologin, hur de skapar nya  verktyg eller bygger egna appar på force.com plattformen, och helt enkelt har mera kul.

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Huvudtalare är Erik Hallberg, VD för TeliaSonera International Carrier som bygger sin IT arkitektur på force.com plattformen och använder Salesforce både som internt collaborationsverktyg, i sälj, marknad och kundservice. Och Line Dahle från norska marinförsäkringsbolaget Gard AS – ett 120 år gammalt traditionellt företag som nu jobbar i molnet med kommunikation, intern kollaboration och hantering av ärenden och kundservice. För speciellt i den branschen måste man kunna respondera snabbt när det smäller till på ett skepp någonstans ute i världen.

Dessutom kommer det finnas demo stations, så att man kan testa själv eller få en av salesforce.com’s egna utvecklare visa. Och session som omhandlar allt från hur President Obama vann valet med hjälp av Salesforce och sociala medier till hur stora företag flytter hela sin verksamhet till en mobil, öppen, social plattform för att möta kunden där kunden är.

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