What to expect at Dreamforce 2018

This week plays host to Salesforce's annual conference, but what can we expect to see and hear from the cloud giant?

Every year, San Francisco is the destination for the IT community as many tech vendors choose to host their annual conferences there. This week, it's the turn of cloud firm Salesforce with its Dreamforce event.

Dreamforce as a moniker sounds like some kind of theme park. Indeed, walking around the city centre, it's hard to miss how much of the landscape has been taken over by the company's pale blue colour scheme. You also have people dressed up as woodland characters and rangers, there are super-long queues to get a coffee and there's the general inability to get walk-in tables in local restaurants for a week.

All of the above is definitely the sort of madness you generally encounter in a theme park. However, in the case of Dreamforce, there is method in that madness.

Some 171,000 people will descend on San Francisco this week to attend the conference in person. That's more than twice the entire population of the Isle of Man, just for reference. But there's a wider audience too, with people watching the keynotes online and participating from afar.

Marc Benioff, the company's founder and CEO, tweeted enthusiastically about the week ahead, saying: "The complete Dreamforce campus map and agenda is unfolding rapidly! There has never been a more exciting Dreamforce! We can't wait to get going and have fun. Thanks Ohana! 10+ Million online viewers. 171K registered to attend. 2,700 Sessions. And I expect you take each one!"

So no clues as to the theme of this year's show, but Dreamforce 2017 focused heavily on diversity and delivered many surprises. However, given that most other tech shows this year have focused on AI and security, it would be surprising if Salesforce dodged those topics entirely.

In fact, it's highly likely AI platform Einstein Voice will be a big focus area, as well as more details on its recent acquisition of Mulesoft, which was announced earlier this year.

Salesforce also likes to surprise. Dreamforce proper starts today, but it announced a strategic partnership with Apple focused on mobile development on Monday to keep everyone on their toes. Outside of tech news, it'll be interesting if Benioff will share any additional insight as to why he recently agreed to buy TIME magazine for $190 million.

On the official website, Salesforce promises that Dreamforce will be "four amazing days of learning, innovation, and fun". With speakers like Al Gore, will.i.am and actor Adrian Grenier, a setlist from Metallica, and with more than 2,700 sessions over the next four days, it looks like there will be something for everyone.

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