WWDC vs. Dreamforce 2015 – A Tale of Two Conferences!

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 3.36.12 PMExactly one month back, Dreamforce 2015 kicked off in San Francisco and opened doors to nearly 1,50,000 attendees (including yours truly) – making it by far the biggest tech carnival (I hate to call it a conference) of all times. A few months before Dreamforce, I made another trip to the Bay Area to attend Apple’s coveted WWDC 2015 event. Interestingly, both conferences took place in the same city (San Francisco) and even the same venue – Moscone Center. And being a conference freak that I am, being at these two events rank as my favorite geek memories of year 2015.

Therefore, I couldn’t help but ponder over the similarities and differences of these two events which set the benchmark for technology events all over the world. Of course, Apple and Salesforce are two of the biggest power houses in the tech industry but they cater to massively different markets and audiences. Anyway, here we go – WWDC 2015 vs. Dreamforce 2015 from the eyes of your’s truly!

1) Venue

Though both Dreamforce and WWDC are at the Moscone Center, a look at some of the pictures below tells a different story. With WWDC, there was the conventional re-dressing of Moscone Center to show the Apple branding and design excellence.

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On the other hand, Dreamforce transforms Moscone Center in a way that you can barely recognise it. Even the surrounding areas on Howard Street are cordoned off and re-christened to a celebratory theme.

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2) Scale

There’s obviously no comparison in terms of numbers. While Apple makes WWDC an exclusive event limiting attendance to 5,000 (the infamous lottery), Dreamforce is all about staggering year on year growth and astonishing numbers and there were as many as 1,50,000 people out there this year. Of course, the audiences are very different. WWDC is all about designers, developers and fan boys and the Apple cult practices are evident. There are folks queuing up to get in at unearthly hours in the night to get in to the venue and the anticipation levels peak with excitement.

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On the other hand, Dreamforce is a monster of an event – there are people, people and more people everywhere you go. You can feel you’re in a city of geeks where you see DF badges everywhere – in the restaurants, at the airport, bart stations and just about anywhere in downtown San Francisco. Moscone Center which holds the Dev Zone, Admin Zone and Expos are full to the fullest extent possible – I guess that’s what they call ‘Controlled Chaos’!

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3) Fire Power

Of course, the best part about both these conferences is that there’s plenty of fire power on stage. While Apple has a formidable line up in the form of Tim Cook, Jonathan Ive, Philip Schiller, Craig Federighi and many more, I don’t like the fact that it’s mostly an all Apple club. The Cupertino giant has been slowly opening it up as there’re external speakers during lunch breaks and off-peak periods but it’s still far and few.

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On the other hand, Dreamforce brings the best of the best of the tech industry on stage – year after year. And it’s not just limited to Salesforce big guns such as Marc Benioff, Parker Hariss and other stalwarts. Whether it’s Merissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg or Satya Nadella, it’s amazing how the company manages to find such prominent personalities to get on stage every year. And then there’s inspiration in the form of Tony Robbins and several other celebrity speakers such as Jessica Alba 🙂

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4) Innovation

It’s fair to say that WWDC is one event which calls the shots in the tech industry, there are new market opportunities created and likewise many startups killed by Apple’s launches at the conference each year. The tech fraternity waits in anticipation for Apple’s announcements on innovations in software as well as hardware. Of course, since iPhone and iPad are consumer devices, there’s a lot of media attention and every announcement is heavily publicised as well as carefully scrutinised.

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On the other hand, it’s fair to say that Salesforce has slowly but surely transformed the face of CRM industry over the last decade and Dreamforce is where all these industry-changing announcements take place. Whether it’s new offering such as Heroku Connect, Lightning Design System, Analytics, Health Cloud – Dreamforce has been the breeding ground for all these break-through product launches.

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5) Learning

Despite all the marketing and PR glitz, I believe that both these conferences at the core are all about learning. In case of Apple, it’s all about developers, designers and the app industry learning how to step up their game and keep pace with the innovative tools and products introduced by the Cupertino giant. On the other hand, Dreamforce is all about learning for all stakeholders – partners, customers, developers, admins and even Salesforce employees – as they get to learn from everybody else – all under one roof.

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6) Parties

Both conferences have an envious line up of parties with great food, music and networking opportunities. But if you know me well, there’s not much to write here – not a party goer!

Wrap up

Of course, at the end of the day, a comparison between WWDC and Dreamforce isn’t a comparison at all – for there’s no either/ or proposition here. These are two of the most successful tech events of modern times and I feel fortunate to have participated in both. Of course, having attended Dreamforce ever year since 2011 (feel like a veteran) and presenting as many as 7 sessions in the Developer Zone at DF over the last four years, it’s an un-paralleled experience for me. On the other hand, attending WWDC 2015 for the first time made me understand what makes Apple the world’s most respected technology company and the feeling of being among 5,000 other loyal and passionate Apple geeks is quiet special.

I do not know what 2016 holds for me – but I hope to attend both Dreamforce and WWDC next year as well!

 

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