James Kotecki (00:08):

This is CES Tech Talk. I'm James Kotecki, bringing you an interview that I recorded live at the C Space Studio at CES 2023. Enjoy.


Hey, welcome back. You're in the C Space Studio here at CES 2023. I'm James Kotecki. The C Space Studio is proudly sponsored by Salesforce, and we are so proud to have a guest from Salesforce with us right now. Domenico D'Ambrosio is Senior Vice President, industry advisors, communications media and technology at Salesforce. Did I get it right?

Domenico D'Ambrosio (00:40):

That's a mouthful between my name and the title, right?

James Kotecki (00:42):

How do you explain that title colloquially to someone you're just meeting for the first time?

Domenico D'Ambrosio (00:46):

Yeah, first and foremost, it's great to partner with you all and do this. It's such a great experience with us to have the ability to share this with you, so it's great. What I do for Salesforce, I run a global industry advisory team that's focused primarily on understanding the industry at a very deep level in the comms media and tech space, so we can continue to show up in front of the customer the right way. Not just talking about our business, but truly understanding theirs.

James Kotecki (01:09):

Comms, media and tech. That's obviously what we're all about here in the C Space studio. Do you look at trends and industry notions that are kind of shaping the year to come?

Domenico D'Ambrosio (01:17):

Oh, most definitely. Day in, day out. We use events like this to make sure we understand, but what we learn the most, James, is actually just spending time in front of the customer and really understanding what's crossing their mind, what's really happening in their world, sharing best practices amongst them so they really understand where the industry's headed. It's amazing how much they learn from each other, and we're so proud to be able to bring them together, not just customers and companies together, but companies together to understand where the industry's going.

James Kotecki (01:45):

It's an interesting methodology because Salesforce is obviously a really high tech company, you're leveraging all this AI, you've got all this data and you're talking about one-on-one conversations. That is potentially an inefficient way to do it, I suppose, but you're saying that it's the best way to do it. How do you balance the idea of trying to do that at scale with trying to have those deep conversations necessary to get those insights?

Domenico D'Ambrosio (02:04):

Yeah, I mean, it's a balance. It's a balance. Of course we are subscribed to many of the industry insights to understand where we're going, tied in with a lot of the industry thought leaders. We feel that we're industry thought leaders as well, but truly then validating that when those one-on-one conversations allows us to achieve the scale that you're referring to.

James Kotecki (02:21):

What are some of the insights that pop up to you as we head into 2023?

Domenico D'Ambrosio (02:25):

Yeah, there's so many, there's so many that are happening. One of my favorite is what's happening from an AI perspective, especially on the generative side. We were lucky enough to announce this week our partnership with Qualcomm and what we're doing from a connected car experience, but there's so much more than that. There's these immersive persona experiences that are happening and how customers and companies are getting after that is very interesting because they're all attacking it in a different way. As you know, James, you have your persona, but your persona changes as a customer. It used to be it was a one-to-one relationship, customer to company. Now it's one too many as the same exact person. I'm in a different buying habit depending on the persona I'm in. Business, professional, entertainment. You have to have the analytics behind that to show up right in front of the customer.

James Kotecki (03:14):

It sounds like you're using that to understand the customer's different personas. Might you also use that to even simulate different customer personas? When we're talking about generative AI, maybe you could do things both ways, right? You're simulating different versions of me that you might want to be interacting with in different ways, and maybe you're generating different versions of you that I want to be interacting with as the consumer in that moment.

Domenico D'Ambrosio (03:35):

Absolutely and recently, you may have heard, we have a real time analytics product that we just launched named Genie for that exact reason, to understand the analytics of the moment with the customer, so when they're in that buying path or thought path or just exploration path, how do we make sure that we're putting the right information in front of the customer, but also in front of that representative and make them the hero of the interaction to go, "I really get this customer".

James Kotecki (04:00):

CES, the C Space studio, we're all about branding. What does the Salesforce brand mean as we head into 2023?

Domenico D'Ambrosio (04:07):

First and foremost, the brand and the culture is what brought me to Salesforce. After many, many years in the telco and cable business, I always admired how Salesforce looked and did things, and one of the things that we've always been about is just being customer obsessed about everything as it relates to the customer. How do we bring customers and companies closer together? We say internally, and now you're seeing us do it much more externally, is how do we create companies to really understand the customer company that they want to be? What's their aspirational vision of what that is? Look, the global space is very difficult now, especially on the business side. Customers are really using measured means to understand buying paths. We feel that we are able to bring much more to the table so they understand the customer at a much deeper level than they ever have before.

James Kotecki (04:59):

So you want your customers to think, "If I want to understand my customers, I got to talk to Salesforce."

Domenico D'Ambrosio (05:04):

That's right. That's right. Well, and if you just walk the floor of this show, it is ... I'm beaming with pride as I've walked the floor to see how many customers we do business with across all industries. It's really cool to be a part of a lot of the magic that's on the floor today.

James Kotecki (05:20):

We're coming out of the pandemic. We're back at a full swing CES 2023. It's very exciting, and now we're in this weird zone from a perspective of hybrid work, work from home, work from anywhere, return to the office. It seemed weird as we were going through the pandemic, and it seems even weirder now. What's your vision for how the future of work is actually going to shake out?

Domenico D'Ambrosio (05:38):

By the way, CES is back at full force, right?

James Kotecki (05:40):


Domenico D'Ambrosio (05:40):

The taxi lines have officially told me that.

James Kotecki (05:42):

It's a good sign.

Domenico D'Ambrosio (05:43):

Yeah, it's a good sign. It's great to see the energy with everybody around here. You know what's interesting? The customer and the company relationship is the most symbiotic thing I think that exists. I mean, it's like the definition of symbiotic. What I mean by that as is addressed to hybrid work, it is so important to show up when the customer needs you. This hybrid work environment, I'm not even sure that's the right phrase anymore. We have an internal philosophy around, we have a digital HQ and a physical HQ that we use. The reason we do that is to leverage ourselves to be with the customers, and we encourage the companies that we partner with that they need that same strategy. Because customers don't interact on a one-to-one basis. They don't just get in the car and drive to a store anymore. I mean, they decide to do business when they want to do business. So we really spend time on that. You have to be dynamic enough as a company to handle that.

James Kotecki (06:31):

When you say digital HQ, what does that mean? Is that a website hub? Is that like a virtual environment? What do you mean by that?

Domenico D'Ambrosio (06:38):

We were lucky enough a few years ago, or actually in the past year, to have an acquisition in Slack. Slack in particular allows us to really come back as a company and when things are happening, how do we collaborate, how do we think about advancing the customer conversation, how do we bring ourselves together to troubleshoot a situation that may be happening? More and more companies need that because, again, the customer in that moment of truth is needed at that point.

James Kotecki (07:03):

I know this is a general question, and everybody's customer set is somewhat different, but is there something that you kind of want to grab some people by the lapels and say, "You got to understand this about your customer. Something's really changing here. Something's really important for you to know," as we head into the future.

Domenico D'Ambrosio (07:17):

I mean, when you think about being a customer obsessed company, how I define it is you have to be completely focused, you have to be driven, you have to be technology led, and you have to know the customer at a very deep level. As I am lucky enough to sit with so many companies around the globe, it's amazing to me still that they have immense amount of data and aren't able to really understand how they can take that data from not just being reactive or proactive, but how do you become prescriptive in what you do? How do you prescribe to the customer what they need at that moment? Because the customer's coming into your company because they want a solution, right? That's when you talk about grabbing the lapels. That's what I focus a lot on. It's like, "Do you understand how we can use your data to help unlock new revenue streams for you that you may have never thought of?"

James Kotecki (08:05):

We're so glad to have you here at CES, and in fact, this is a CES that has a theme of human security for all, which is this kind of umbrella idea around food security, health security, environmental security, many different forms of that, and how companies use technology to enable good in those areas. Does that resonate with Salesforce and how does that resonate?

Domenico D'Ambrosio (08:23):

Yeah, most definitely. When you think about our core values as a company, everything from trust, customer success, innovation, sustainability, you may have even seen in our recent Team Earth ads, we understand we have an obligation. We firmly believe that business is the greatest platform for change, and we have to continue to use that to do what my dad has always taught me, which is we have to leave the campsite better than it was before. There is an obligation to do that. That means being secure and hence why it's in one of our core values, but also making sure that we're doing it in a way that allows other to prosper well beyond us.

James Kotecki (09:02):

Domenico D'Ambrosio from Salesforce, thank you so much for joining us in your C Space studio. We really appreciate it.

Domenico D'Ambrosio (09:07):

It's a pleasure. I love it. Thanks for naming it that. I appreciate it.

James Kotecki (09:10):

Well, I hope you enjoyed that live conversation from CES 2023. Look up the CES C Space Studio for more conversations like that and get even more CES at ces.tech. That's CES dot T-E-C-H. Of course, please subscribe to this podcast so you don't miss a moment. I'm James Kotecki talking tech on CES Tech Talk.