What is the Salesforce Data Cloud?

Salesforce recently introduced the Data Cloud and if you have been watching the evolution of the product over the past year you know that the pace of updates, innovations, announcements, and name changes has been frenetic. It’s been challenging for even industry insiders to keep up, so I thought I’d write a little bit about what I’ve learned along the way while working with Data Cloud and watching its evolution from a primarily marketing focused Customer Data Platform to the Data Cloud, which is now being designed to address use cases across the Salesforce Customer 360 App ecosystem and a broad array of business functions.

It’s helpful to have a little background on the history of Data Cloud to understands it’s importance where it fits with other cloud solutions. A few years ago, Salesforce launched a new Customer Data Platform (CDP), which was built from the ground up to address a long-standing challenge in marketing. In order to deliver personalized customer experiences, marketers need to connect large volumes of non-standardized and often duplicated data from many sources to individual customer profiles. 

Then, they need to connect all the touchpoints (e.g. purchases, service interactions, web visits, email clicks, phone calls, etc.) to this customer profile. Even the basic personalized experience you expect from your favorite brands require significant data manipulation and the unification of millions or billions of records to individual customer identities. It’s a huge data problem that thus far has not been solved by any one company — and it’s not a problem exclusive to marketing.

Salesforce recognized that the system they were building had applications far beyond marketing which is why they began to evolve CDP and the modern technology infrastructure it was built on to support use cases across the enterprise. Data Cloud is the evolution of CDP and now enables use cases for customer engagement across sales, service, and commerce in addition to marketing. Salesforce is in a unique position to capitalize on the Data Cloud to better connect their own application ecosystem and finally address the challenge of delivering personalized customer experiences across the enterprise while keeping complexity and cost in check. As one of the leading providers of customer engagement platforms, Salesforce has a real opportunity to significantly simplify traditional paradigms for data architecture by more closely aligning its systems of engagement with Data Cloud and industry leading systems of reference like AWS, GCP, Azure, Snowflake, and other data services.

I’ll dig into the latest announcements and most interesting features of the Data Cloud in future posts.