The Delicate Sound of Thunder- #Salesforce #IoT Cloud

I’ve always been struck by the juxtaposition of the title to Pink Floyd’s Live Album, “The Delicate Sound of Thunder.” You see it right away. What does the word delicate have in common with something as grand and voluminous as thunder? The answer at first glance is, truly, nothing. They are partners only that they sit as a part of a sound spectrum; not unlike how infrared sits apart from the sight of the blazing sun. And as is true of all poetics there is inherent in their formation, reason.

I’ve stood out in the night, staring out across the vast horizon, and I’ve heard the delicate sound of thunder. It is not faint, like one might imagine. It announces itself with clear, fully textured personality. It is a distant voice, not unlike the call of train’s horn, bearing witness of it’s presence to a sleepy town nestled on a Texas plain. But a train is deliberately brash, and it yawns at us, over, and over, attempting to warn the absent minded of it’s approach. Perhaps that is how so many blog posts and inbound marketing campaigns sound to our ears now concerning the Internet of Things. But, the delicate sound of thunder is a far off thing. Otherwise we’d know it’s nearer, and bolder, awe inspiring self full of power. Rather, it is a revelation, calling in the night, heralding a magnificent event. There in the sky, ions pulled apart from electron brothers, collapsed upon themselves and the fire of life split the air, giving birth to a cry that reached our ears, miles and miles away.

Much like the delicate sound of thunder, I’ve heard and seen the distant truth of the Salesforce IoT Cloud, with it’s intelligent rules engine, Thunder. Thunder was officially announced at Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference in September 2015 in dramatic fashion. Upon the main stage, SVP of Product, and co-founder, Parker Harris, slammed a Thor like hammer to the ground, setting off a brilliant video presentation telling the story of a connected world, of people, places, and things. At the center of all of the Salesforce’s focus is the customer, and their customer’s success. All of its clouds, of all of it’s products, ideologically are meant to serve that end. And, as we enter another age of connectivity, by sensors within a myriad of connected, smart, or less smart, products, and places, the IoT Cloud is placed at the center of all of the Salesforce solutions.

I first heard the delicate sound on Twitter, in some months leading up to Dreamforce 2013. One of the principal Salesforce Devs was tinkering with adrinos, bananas, and all sorts of gizmos, connecting them up to Developer Edition Salesforce orgs. Since then, the solution has greatly matured. Adam Bosworth, EVP of IoT, whose resume includes the very software I’m typing this post up on (Google Docs), came to Salesforce a couple years back to begin building Salesforce IoT Cloud. At the core of his presentations is a simple, but profound purpose, to make the relationship we have with organizations helpful, with less friction- to the end that those companies that utilize IoT Cloud, will have a tremendous advantage over their competitors who continue to make their clients suffer through awful user experiences.

But before you raise your voice to denounce this as futuristic, let me do that for us. Delicate sounds of thunder, are by definition, far away. But whether they are real, or not, is not in question. Really, the weather and it’s estimated time of arrival, is the only appropriate question. I’m not of the mind that the spectacular display of light and awe inducing vibrations is going to fade away. The storm is coming. Take a moment and imagine telling someone today that there were people about a decade ago that said the iPhone was a nice thought, but would never dent the bulwark of the Blackberry’s market! Or pause and consider that there was no cloud hosted CRM of any account when we were all singing with Prince, “Let’s party like it’s 1999.” In fact, through a complete collapse of a first wave of technology companies, mostly internet based, Salesforce was forged. First with the aforementioned multi-tenant cloud structure, and second with the subscription model of business. It’s in the very DNA of Salesforce to meet the customer in the midst of the conflagration of competing technologies and business processes. The components change as we go along in time, but the vision, and the mission, remain the same.

When I stare out at the crest of time built on the gathering powerful forces of today, I see the proliferation of sensors and networked things. I also spy the millions of once muted sensors, who had no means of communication, or computer ears to hear them, that now can be made sense of, and given an intelligible voice. I see new complexity of opportunity created by these billions of interconnected voices, in concert with all of us. It really brings to mind games, and how they become more complex as new pieces and game play areas are added.

We all know that new expansion packs make for entirely new strategies in the games we play. Those that were successful with their precise use of an earlier version, now find themselves under siege by upstarts who understand the advantages offered by the new one. Or like one who might be a master of traditional chess, may find the three dimensional version with a Vulcan opponent a bit unnerving. In a similar way, it is the same with companies, and really all of us as consumers, and as citizens. With the advent of the internet of things, we are looking at a ton of new expansion packs that will be added in rapid succession to our games over the next year 10 years.

But the analogy breaks down, because life is not a game in the trivial sense. Life is a serious business. It’s pieces are people, and machines, and buildings. The game board is comprised of cities, and rivers, and farmland, and mountains, and oceans. The gameplay is life and death, of successful ventures, and failed ones, of hopes and disappointments, and everything in between. It’s in this real world that we have the opportunity to interact that is now introducing newest layer of reality, as my friend Dr. David Bray likes to call it, the Internet of Everything. The decisions we make as individuals in positions of influence, and authority, in executing strategy around this new expansion pack will have extremely real consequences for all of those impacted by us as leaders. It’s my estimation, that companies, like Salesforce, who have the customer squarely in the center of their mission, will afford those who partner with them, the best strategic position to succeed in the IoT era. And now I wonder, can you hear that delicate sound of thunder?

I gave a brief overview of the Salesforce IoT Cloud, and my observations concerning it, on 12.9.15 at IoT Slam®, a virtual conference, live streamed to attendees. For more information about my session, and the conference, click here.

Disclosure: I do not have a ‘Dream Job’ at Salesforce, and therefore do not represent the company. I am however active in the Salesforce business ecosystem, a registered partner, and typically serve ISV/SI companies built on Salesforce with their market strategy, and marketing needs. And, just in case folks are wondering, my opinions are my own.

Salesforce, it’s products, as well as it’s logos, and images, are their own. They are used here in good faith and in keeping with my understanding of their most recent PR guidelines. Other images are creative commons to the best of my knowledge.