Salesforce goes blockchain, aims to build partner data networks

The argument from Salesforce is that the time is right to use blockchain for customer data "in a distributed, verified and secure way."
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Salesforce is trying to meld its low-code development approach with blockchain networks as a way to extend customer relationship management data to partner networks.

The company on Wednesday at its TrailheaDX conference for developers rolled out Salesforce Blockchain. Salesforce Blockchain is built on open source blockchain technology from Hyperledger Sawtooth and aims to allow customers to manage blockchain workflows, contracts and apps without code.

"You have the ease of use of Salesforce with the power of blockchain," Parker Harris, co-founder and CTO of Salesforce, said in a Wednesday keynote address. "It's the fast and easy way to build partner networks."

According to Salesforce, Arizona State University, IQVIA and S&P Global Ratings are using Salesforce Blockchain.

The blockchain news comes as Salesforce rolled out ethics modules for artificial intelligence implementations and open sourced its Lightning Web Components.

Bret Taylor, chief product officer at Salesforce, said blockchain will be used to connect partners and handle things like contracts and data sharing in a transparent manner.

Salesforce isn't alone on the blockchain bandwagon. IBM has been creating joint ventures and connecting supply chains and developing food safety networks. Cloud providers such as AWS with distributed ledger services and Microsoft Azure with identification tools are expanding efforts. Governments are also looking into blockchain for cross-border payments and voting

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The argument from Salesforce is that the time is right to use blockchain for customer data "in a distributed, verified and secure way," said Taylor. In addition, companies are working with larger ecosystems and third parties and need technology to ensure trust while improving efficiency. By combining CRM and blockchain, the company is betting that it can create new processes and workflows across sales, service and marketing.

"This is an early technology and there will be a lot of experimentation," said Taylor.

Also: Free PDF download: How Blockchain Will Disrupt Business Survey: Most professionals don't have experience using blockchain, but many see its potential | Executive's guide to implementing blockchain technology 

When coupled with Salesforce's acquisition of Mulesoft, which is designed to connect enterprise applications, and its Customer 360 strategy a move into blockchain makes sense.

Salesforce Blockchain aims to build networks with low-code and treat an object like any other. Salesforce is also aiming to automate blockchain data and make it native to the platform. From there, blockchain can be integrated with Einstein algorithms. Salesforce will also provide pre-built apps and integration tools with other blockchain networks.

As for the workflows, here are two slides to illustrate what can be connected.


In the case of Arizona State, workflows are being created to link student transcript and share with partners and other universities.


The company said that Salesforce Blockchain is available to design partners and generally available in 2020.

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