So I went to the Hyatt Harborside (right next to the airport with a nice view back on the Boston skyline, small place though) for the Salesforce event today. It was time well spent, even if just for getting to hear from a product manager directly. He was able to explain Apex in about 5 sentences better than anything I’ve read anywhere.
Apex is a language that you can query and script Salesforce with. It’s a new language that looks alot like a mashup of SQL and Java. They key is it runs on Salesforce servers. The product manager was a hardcore admin in a prior life and was talking about how they would set up a linux box out in the dmz to query SF and do cool stuff – for example hit the database once a day and round up all the contacts that sent in POs and send them the thank you message and kick the accounting system to send them an invoice. Sort of like Automated Procedures for Goldmine folk, but on steroids.
My hopes for finding a SF/Adwords ninja were dashed when I was one of the few (maybe only?) guy to raise his hand when they asked who was using it out of the probably 200+ people in the room. Either I really do have superpowers, or I was the one-eyed man in a room full of blind people.
Some other interesting stuff – ConVoq has webinars integrated into SF including VOIP, Dreamfactory has some project management and even SCM stuff that I need to check out. SalesGenius can tell you when your contacts are visiting your site (and also did a cool lead gen that got me a $5 Starbucks card). iNeo had some interesting stuff that automated the creation of landing pages. And one of these days I’ll get a chance to become an ExactTarget customer again, their integration is very cool and would take some labor out of the cycle and standardize outgoing messages.
Overall it’s time well spent to see what the next round of features will be. Also a major brainbuster – I gave Salesforce kudos for their ideaExchange – basically a Digg site for features for the product managers. I didn’t realize that this fit into a master plan for them of having startups create apps in apex – using ideaExchange as the perfect customer survey tool. They even have office space in the valley for these people to use, and of course VC will be trolling weekly. Brilliant! I’m buying shares this week.