Innocence and Experience at Dreamforce

Today I’m at Dreamforce for the third time, and it is a massive show — a CRM and marketing tech user convention that literally takes over San Francisco.

And although it may be the biggest, it’s not the only huge vendor-driven convention out there. Adobe Summit in Vegas was pretty big itself. I hearInbound, which scheduling conflicts always seem to keep me from attending, is huge as well. There’s many others.

What drives thousands of marketers to shuffle onto planes and jet across the country to go to these big shows? What drives their companies to pay for them?

I mean, aren’t we supposed to be the connected people who are disconnected from people? We hear stories about how people have become zombies enthrall to tiny glowing screens to avoid human contact.

With tutorials and online videos, it’s never been a better time to learn about things and how to do things from the comfort of your own office. (A selling point of virtual events, in fact.) Yet business folk — many, if not most, of them in that very zombie cohort — migrate thousands of miles to congregate around their favorite software?

Either we’re not as antisocial as we think, or the pull of experience is even greater than Instagram, Facebook and Candy Crush combined.

Of course, there are the perks of attending, too. One huge perk of attending Dreamforce this year is they’re sending all full attendees out to the “Cloud” (Cow) Palace to see U2! (U2 is, by the way, my favorite band).

U2’s last tour was aptly named Innocence and Experience … what better way to think of marketing today?

We have all of these new marketers coming into the industry and moving up its ranks with Millennial mindsets and the innocence of living in a world where everything is on a tiny glowing screen at the touch of a button.

And we have pre-smartphone veterans who may even remember when laying out a mailpiece involved an X-ACTO knife and glue. It wasn’t easy. And care needed to be taken at every step to justify the effort and expense.

There’s the innocence of all these news things we can do! And the need for experience in what you should and should not do.

There’s the innocence of thinking the right tech will solve all our problems, and the experience of knowing that tech is only as useful as the people using it.

And in these journeys across the country from one marketing tech powwow to another, I think that’s what we’re really looking for. The experience, first hand, that might allow you to bring those innocent aspirations into the hard and cynical world of reality.

It’s a city of blinding light, but we still haven’t found what we’re looking for.

What are you looking for, readers? When you head to a convention like Dreamforce, is it just the camaraderie and networking, or is there more? Do you come back with more experience? More ideas? Maybe even more innocence? Do you even want to go? Let me know in the comments.



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