At CES 2013, Salesforce tracks show buzz in the cloud

Salesforce.com aims to demonstrate the value of social media and big data by deploying its "Marketing Cloud" platform at the world's largest electronics show.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

LAS VEGAS -- Salesforce.com has set up an official command center inside the halls of this year's International Consumer Electronics Show to monitor literally all of the buzz about the show.

The command center exists to demonstrate how Salesforce's new Marketing Cloud platform can be put to use by businesses that want to know more about what consumers are saying online.

To recall, the Marketing Cloud is based on the back-end infrastructures and solutions provided through the acquisitions of Radian6 and Buddy Media.

I chatted a bit with Mike Lazerow, chief marketing officer for the Salesforce Marketing Cloud unit, on Tuesday at the booth to see the team -- comprised of both Consumer Electronics Association and Salesforce.com employees -- in action.

"With this type of volume, you can't do it with one person. We're talking about 150,000 mentions of CES a day right now," said Lazerow, remarking that's out of billions of online conversations from approximately 500 million sources, ranging from Twitter to electronics forums.

He explained further that the command center team can perform a number of options with the data coming in, sorting it by brand, influencers, and more. Lazerow demonstrated the data displayed in the form of an iPad app designed especially for the CEA. It's not available to the public, but he responded that it's just a Heroku app that can be whipped up rather quickly.


(If you want a peek at the info, when I was seated at the command center, Sony was the top brand being mentioned in all CES posts being tracked.)

Lazerow noted that this is the first time that Salesforce.com has hosted a command center at CES after being tapped by the CEA to operate as an official partner.

Salesforce already provides command centers like this for customers such as Dell and Cisco -- not to mention at its own Dreamforce and Cloudforce conferences.
But how can all of this data and "influence" be measured?
Lazerow defended that the "real differentiator and magic" to these solutions is when you bring together what you know and what is being said about you.
In terms of the Marketing Cloud, Salesforce has established a coalition of 25 different partner companies that specialize in measuring influence and conducting analytics in real-time.
Lazerow posited that "often times simpler is better," which is especially vital when it comes to aggregating and then presenting data. He suggested that "social media is real people talking about your event," and this is how you respond to them -- as real people with real questions who want real answers quickly.
Thus, not only does the Marketing Cloud track online conversations, but it also responds to questions posed by Internet users, offering answers to topics like finding the right booth, shortest taxi lines and even restaurant suggestions in the area. That, in turn, can really help build a brand and keep customers happy in the long run.
Lazerow concluded, "We all talk about big data. Turning it into insight, something that's useful is what it's all about."


Images: Rachel King, ZDNet

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