Share

Dreamforce 2016 will have over 3,000 sessions, including keynotes, breakouts, training and certification. The event runs from 4-7 October this year across a range of venues in downtown San Francisco.

Dreamforce 2016

Only a handful of speakers have been announced for Dreamforce 2016 so far, with philanthropy looking like the theme of the event. Interestingly, the first raft of speakers is predominantly female, with CEO Marc Benioff to be joined by Melinda Gates, Patricia Arquette, Billie Jean King and Deborah Duggan. Other speakers who have been announced include author and motivational speaker Tony Robbins and NASA astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly. We will update this article as more speakers are announced.

In terms of product announcements Salesforce will be unveiling Einstein, which the company calls the "world's first comprehensive artificial intelligence platform for CRM." Instead of a standalone product, Einstein is expected to be an injection of AI and predictive capabilities into a number of Salesforce products.

There are also more than 3,000 breakout sessions, across over 30 themes, throughout the week. It is a good idea to build your agenda using the official app so that you aren't running around San Francisco during the week as events can be quite far apart from one another.

High-profile venture capitalists Mark Cuban (owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team) and Chris Sacca (owner of many loud shirts) will be hosting Dreampitch, an opportunity to 'Pitch Your Dream' for startups developing apps on the Salesforce App Cloud. The three winning startups will get Dreamforce passes, a booth in Startup Valley and the chance to receive investment from the Salesforce Ventures fund, and one winner will gain entry to the Salesforce Incubator Program.

The headline act for this year's gala concert - 'Dreamfest' - has also been announced. Legendary Irish rock band U2 will be playing at Dreamforce 2016 as Salesforce.com continues to push its commitment to philanthropy, with the AIDS Foundation this year's chosen charity. The concert is taking place at the Cow Palace in Daly City, to the south of San Francisco, and will be rebranded the 'Cloud Palace' for Dreamfest.

The party and social events calendar is starting to be populated, from 5k fun runs to roller discos. There is an unofficial app for planning which parties and social events to attend called Partyforce.

There are also plenty of training opportunities at Dreamforce, from one- to three-day courses on subjects like Marketing Cloud implementations, building applications on Force.com and a whole host of certifications either during or pre-conference.

Analyst perspective

Ian Jacobs, senior analyst at Forrester is most interested in the Einstein announcement and if his customers will actually be able to get their hands on it any time soon.

"Because this is Salesforce - a company that likes to announce things that don't actually become commonly used tools for several years - I am also looking to see just how early this announcement really is," he says. "Will my clients be getting hands-on with it in the next six months? 18 months?"

"My research focuses on digital customer service and contact centre agent experience. So, I'm looking to this show to hear more about how the Einstein initiative plays out in customer service. Will it be able to act as a guided service tool that allows companies to lead agents through complex service processes, or even just multi-step processes like onboarding? Will there be a consumer-facing service play?"

Jacobs says that the event is too large to take it all in, and would like to see better streaming services to keep track of events that you can't physically reach.

"Dreamforce is so massive that is hard to ever feel like you've got a handle on it, or that you've gotten the most out of the show," warns Jacobs. "I'd also be happy to see a little less self-congratulatory Messiah-complex grandstanding. But that is an unrealistic hope."

Dreamforce venues

Dreamforce has a large footprint in downtown San Francisco, centring on the Moscone Center with other events happening at the Marriott Marquis, InterContinental, The Palace Hotel, Hilton Union Square, The Park Central (formerly Westin Market Street), Century Theaters & Bespoke at Westfield, and AMC Metreon Theaters.

Accommodation gets booked up fast during Dreamforce so it's a good idea to book as far in advance as possible. Salesforce has contracts with a number of Bay Area hotels for discounted Dreamforce rates (here is last year's list), which average out at $300 (£230) a night, where you will also get transportation to the Moscone and complimentary internet access. This accommodation can be booked during the registration process.

Similarly the most popular restaurants in the city get booked up for Dreamforce, so if you have an important dinner lined up then get that booked in advance too. Lastly, transatlantic flights will be busier before and after Dreamforce, so if you are travelling from the UK it would be a good idea to get these locked in as early as possible.

Dreamforce 2015

Last year's Dreamforce made headlines for the disruption it caused to downtown San Francisco as hundreds of thousands of techies descended on the city. The conference, which now numbers more than 160,000 registered attendees, even saw a 964-foot cruise ship docked at San Francisco's Pier 27 to house the glut of visitors coming in for the conference. The same cruise liner hosted the 2015 gala concert, which was headlined by the Foo Fighters.

Read next: Dreamforce: Is it getting too big for its boots?

The Wednesday last year saw a fireside chat between Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and keynotes from Microsoft CEO Satyna Nadella and the CEO of the San Francisco Giants baseball team, Larry Baer. Other notable speakers were YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and actress/entrepeneur Jessica Alba.

Cost

Full conference passes for Dreamforce are now sold out. Sponsors and press can still register with a code and free Expo+ passes are available, granting access to select keynotes, the Dreampark and the Cloud Expo.

On-site registration for Dreamforce is $1,999 (£1,539).

The Dreamforce 2015 FAQ is still online and should answer any other questions you have about the event.

Find your next job with computerworld UK jobs