SAN FRANCISCO -- Dreamforce '12 kicked off in San Francisco on Tuesday morning, beginning with a closer look at Salesforce.com's AppExchange partner network.
The 10th annual Dreamforce conference is actually the biggest yet. Now boasted by Salesforce as the world's largest vendor technology event, Dreamforce '12 is hosting 85,000 registrants with more than 850 sessions scheduled this week.
Ron Huddleston, senior vice president of ISVs and Channels at Salesforce.com, kicked off the keynote session with an overview about the cloud-based AppExchange marketplace, telling the audience of partners and developers that "the people in this room now comprise the fastest growing business at Salesforce."
AppExchange actually went through a major rehaul recently, completely redesigned with a streamlined user experience, curated collections and new categorization. Furthermore, the AppExchange has been optimized for mobile devices.
Leyla Seka, vice president of AppExchange, said that the revamp has produced a 44 percent increase in leads since the new site launch.
The next step for the platform is AppExchange Checkout, a new channel with turn-key billing for "lightweight apps" that are supposed to be faster and solve targeted business problems.
Seka briefly offered a snapshot of the AppExchange roadmap through next summer. Details were few and far between, but Chatter will be added to AppExchange next spring along with security review automation and a new feature called AppExchange Answers. Site.com apps and "streamline publishing" will also be debuting next summer.
Salesforce.com: Customers want more apps
Highlighting that AppExchange has more than 1,700 apps now, Huddleston cited a recent Salesforce survey of its customers revealing that they still want more apps, and that they want those apps to be social.
The top requested CRM application was actually an app for customer satisfaction surveys with nearly 60 percent of the vote, followed by mobile sales management, lead management, email response management, and customer chat.
Additionally, the top requested back office app was big data management with nearly 50 percent of responses, followed by management apps for invoices, product life cycles, supply chains, and learning systems.
Huddleston continued that Salesforce customers are looking for partners not just looking for a good cloud solution, but also partners that can help them deliver on the vision of a connected enterprise.
"The future of enterprise apps is connected, and that is the message of Dreamforce," Huddleston asserted.
Huddleston welcomed out Richard Rothchild, vice president of information services at Pandora, describing the Internet radio giant as a company with an "enlightened philosophy about internal IT" with an "app-first" approach.
Rothchild noted that Pandora doesn't have any hardware or software, making it a 100-percent cloud-based company. He added that Pandora has gone with this strategy with the intention of increasing its agility and focus on business problems instead of "servers and databases."
But Rothchild admitted that at Pandora, the digital music company has a lot of siloed applications that need to be integrated to create an ecosystem that solves more business problems.
For example, for companies that want to buy ad space on Pandora, Rothchild explained that their credit needs to be reviewed first. So Pandora uses Data.com for background check information, and when the advertisers pay, that data is stored in FinancialForce.
Roththild explained that this is the beginning of an ecosystem of advertisers, and as Pandora adds in credit and collection, then the business has a better view of its clients.
"Moving to the cloud is a lot of work and effort, but Pandora wouldn't have succeeded without it," Rothchild said.