In May of 2014 (last year), my husband and I took our teenage daughters to grab a bite at Sea Salt Eatery and see Minnehaha Falls, a place they had seen many times as young children from the back of a Burley or bike. Minnehaha Falls is a beautiful place with people from all walks of life enjoying the Falls. But this time the energy of Minnehaha and the people watching had quadrupled because the Falls were rushing like never before; a result of the record snow and rain of Spring 2014. So many excited people in awe of the Falls were jostling through the mist to see the rushing water from every vantage point.
I felt the same way when Peter Coffee, VP of Strategic Research at Salesforce.com, spoke at the Twin Cities Salesforce User Group Meeting on May 12, 2015. Everyone attending knew that this user group meeting was special. The sold-out meeting (275 people had registered) and zealous introduction of Peter Coffee were good indicators of the rooms energy. I attended the event with two Interlinx Associates co-workers.
“I learn faster when people are rude,” said Coffee at the beginning of his slide presentation while inviting us to speak honestly and directly. No cream and sugar for this Aribica brew. I immediately perked up and prepared for what was to come.
“Cloud computing is like breathing without a space suit.” – Peter Coffee
The best teachers introduce and explain new concepts by making analogies with simple, familiar concepts. That is what Coffee did with Salesforce and breathing. Coffee compared fixed data storage and accessibility to a space suit. A space suit has a fixed number of breaths you can take before you run out of oxygen and your space walk is over. Coffee asked us to imagine checking in to run a marathon and being asked how many breaths you were going to take. Unimaginable. Right? That’s life in a space suit for all you Twin Cities Marathon runners.
I had to play out Coffee’s transcendental comparison to understand life in a space suit. To start, it would be very normal because it would be all we ever knew. We would casually talk about it over tea, share tips, and save to buy the newest, safest, hi-tech space suit available, which promised more breaths than any other space suit. The people who could afford the better suit would get more out of life than those who could not. And if an entrepreneur tried to sell a solution providing infinite breaths without worry, it might sound too good to be true and you’d stay with what you know: the comfort of the space suit. You get the picture. Many of us can totally relate to the normalcy of managing business with fixed connectivity and data storage. The idea of never ever having those same limitations again is a foreign, futuristic concept until you drink the Salesforce.com Kool-Aid (or Coffee).
I could go on and on about Peter Coffee’s Salesforce and breathing analogy and his waterfall of information and possibilities; like doctors monitoring pH levels in our toilets, renting electric BMWs for a day, fertilizers, connected customers, global mobile users, partners in profitability, decreasing cost to send data and the future of agriculture and healthcare. Instead, I will share a link to a bank of Peter Coffee’s slide presentations (the presentation from the Twin Cities Salesforce User Group is not there yet) and a history article with photos of the 2014 Minnehaha Falls, both of which I highly recommend seeing in person if the opportunity comes up.