Salesforce launches Customer 360, aims to integrate all your data, applications

Salesforce's idea to provide a 360 degree view of the customer isn't exactly new, but the company maintains its execution will be different. Here's the master plan.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Salesforce's big idea is one that you've heard of before from other enterprise software vendors--a 360 degree view of the customer--with different lens. The big question will come down to executing Salesforce's effort, dubbed Customer 360.

At Dreamforce, Salesforce's developer and customer powwow, the company will outline Customer 360, which includes the following:

  • An admin interface that connects and manages customer data across Salesforce apps.
  • Customer 360 ID, which gives customers one ID that will have up-to-date contextually relevant profiles across apps and experiences.
  • Packages for Customer 360 focused on service, marketing and commerce to scale up cross-channel customer experiences.

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Co-CEO Marc Benioff and CTO Parker Harris in their Dreamforce keynote outlined Customer 360. Benioff reiterated his customer-first mantra and talked about how companies have to be about their values. In a talk where you half expected Benioff to announce he was running for public office, he said:

For each company we have to listen. We're watching for companies not listening. For them we watch the executives walk out, the employees walk out and the customers walk out.

Parker Harris, CTO of Salesforce, put some more technology meat on the Customer 360 platform. In a demo, Harris showed how data is connected via Customer 360 in multiple systems.


The problem Salesforce is hoping to solve is a big one even if it's not terribly original. Customers are typically in experience silos and data from various parts of a company may not be shared. These disjointed customer experiences have plagued interactions for years.


Marc Benioff

However, there are other players that have hopped on this one-view of the customer bandwagon. SAP CEO Bill McDermott outlined how his company was going to take on Salesforce in CRM with the one unified customer experience take. SAP's argument is that the customer experience starts with its ERP and HANA analytics platform and then expands to CRM. "We have moved from 360 degree view of sales automation where some companies focus to 360 degree view of the actual customer," said McDermott.

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Microsoft, which is touting its Dynamics ERP and CRM platform at its Ignite conference, has talked about a 360 degree view of the customer before. Using ActiveDirectory and its hook into Azure, Microsoft already has a customer ID system. Microsoft starts with Office and Dynamics and now extends its reach with artificial intelligence and connections on LinkedIn.

Oracle has also talked the 360 degree view of the customer with the talking points picking up in 2015. In 2013, Oracle Siebel CRM was talking 360 degree views of the customer and being customer centric.

Simply put, there's a lot of marketing speak invested in this 360 degree view of the customer thing.

How Salesforce plans to be different

Patrick Stokes, SVP Integration Cloud, said that the issue is that previous efforts to provide a 360 degree view of the customer have been made on the assumption that a company can control the journey a customer would take.

"Our point of view is simple. What we need is a single identifier. Not a single version of the truth, but a unified ID that can connect systems," said Stokes.

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Salesforce's biggest argument is that traditional master data management tools--the technology that keeps customer records updated and current between apps--requires a lot of IT work and lack real-time updating.

Customer 360 is designed to sit in the middle of all of Salesforce's ecosystem.


Via it Mulesoft acquisition, Salesforce is planning to integrate this customer data, leave the information in place and keep it integrated for personalized experiences whether in the cloud or on-premises. Salesforce tipped its plans when it announced updates to its Financial Services Cloud. This slide, which highlights, the moving parts in a customer, system and data bowl of spaghetti is designed for banks and insurers, but represents most enterprises.

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Salesforce does intend to integrate various applications in an enterprise, but much of Customer 360 revolves around connecting Salesforce apps and data.

Customer 360 will include a click-based user experience so admins can manage apps and data. The idea is that admins will make connected between apps. This dashboard would be one place to view customer data, applications and various connections.

The 360 ID is Salesforce's way of giving one identifier for every customer that would include name, email, phone number as well as social handle. Salesforce's tools would match, reconcile and update customer data across clouds. Salesforce noted that 360 ID leaves data in place and the system where it originated. Salesforce would retrieve data only when needed and refrain from a data lake and data warehouse architecture. The concept rhymes more with Pure Storage's Data Hub concept as an architecture.

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Pre-built packages for service, marketing and commerce. Experiences for customers would be tailored on use cases on Service Cloud, Commerce Cloud and Marketing Cloud. The packages are designed to deliver connected experiences and be attached to Customer 360.

Perhaps the most notable idea Salesforce has is that Customer 360 isn't replicating data, but pulling it from where it resides. The general idea is that Customer 360 would enable a company to know when a shopping cart was abandoned in Commerce Cloud and then activate a campaign in Marketing Cloud for discounts.

These connections between Salesforce clouds are called Commerce Journeys and Service for Commerce. The packages are designed to provide immediate returns on moving to one customer ID.

According to Stokes, these preintegrated packages would put experiences and engagement first.

Stokes acknowledged that Salesforce isn't the center of the universe. However, it is worth noting that the company does house much of an enterprise's customer data. To connect various systems, MuleSoft will use APIs to connect applications across a company.

MuleSoft Anypoint is designed to connect Salesforce Customer 360 with other applications. These connections are designed to create what the company says a "truly complete customer view."

The details

Customer 360 will be built into the platform and Stokes noted that the intention is to include much of the functionality under existing licenses.

Salesforce doesn't have all the details on pricing as Customer 360 is slated for general availability in the second half of 2019. There will be net new services with Customer 360 and they may revolve around prepackaged journeys as well MuleSoft connections via APIs. The integration space is one of Salesforce's big growth areas.

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In the end, the Customer 360 effort provides a stronger layer integration between Salesforce clouds. But Salesforce won't represent most of your systems. As a result, Salesforce's up sell may revolve around MuleSoft.

Here are some screens of what Customer 360 will look like.


What's MuleSoft's role?

If Customer 360 is the secret sauce to integrate all of the data on Salesforce's clouds, MuleSoft is the integration layer to connect the rest of the information silos in an enterprise.

Mark Dao, chief product officer at MuleSoft, said the unit's Anypoint platform will be the "data platform for external systems" and connect to Customer 360. Dao said MuleSoft aims to provide an "application network" that can integrate various systems. For instance, MuleSoft will demo how Salesforce Commerce Cloud can integrate with Oracle's NetSuite and use machine learning to recommend data mapping choices.

At Dreamforce, MuleSoft will outline updates to the Anypoint platform that will add up to "an application network graph" so services across a company can be integrated via the cloud on on-premises.

MuleSoft's October 2018 release of the Anypoint Platform includes:

  • Machine earning for data mapping and a flow designer that creates an application network graph.
  • A visualization engine that provides a view of a company's APIs and integration points. Monitoring via Anypoint also troubleshoots issues.
  • An expanded API management toolset. These additional controls apply security at the API level and add tokens to data at rest and in transit.

Add it up and MuleSoft is the hub of Salesforce's integration efforts, but is designed to ride shot gun with Customer 360.

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