Salesforce is putting a new customer data platform, Genie, at the heart of its software to deliver real-time access to customer information across the enterprise.\n\n\u201cGenie is the world\u2019s first real time CRM,\u201d said chief product officer David Schmaier on the eve of the company\u2019s Dreamforce 2022 customer conference. \u201cIt\u2019s a high-speed, hyper-scalar data lake infrastructure that powers all of Salesforce\u2019s applications.\u201d\n\nRunning on Hyperforce, Salesforce\u2019s public cloud, the new customer data platform (CDP) uses the same metadata as the rest of the Salesforce platform, and connects with the company\u2019s Flow automation tools and Einstein AI-powered recommendation engine, enabling them to operate with real-time data too.\n\nFor Sheryl Kingstone, VP for customer experience and commerce at 451 Research, Genie could be a solution to the business problem of creating unified customer profiles based on a single source of truth, finally getting rid of customer data siloes across every department, business unit, and all the different regions, she says.\n\nIt\u2019s been a challenge for Salesforce to get to the point where it can combine its rich legacy of transactional data with more modern sources of real-time data, according to Kingstone.\n\n\u201cThey were doing it in stages,\u201d she said. \u201cSalesforce acquired MuleSoft to solve app integration, but it didn\u2019t solve the data integration problem. Einstein solved some of the architectural shifts to bring the data together, but it still was a baby step.\u201d\n\nA bigger step toward solving the data integration problem, she said, came with Salesforce\u2019s 2020 acquisition of personalization software vendor Evergage, which enabled it to rethink the data architecture of its applications from the ground up.\n\nIt\u2019s not just about Salesforce applications, though: Genie also opens a gateway to Snowflake\u2019s data cloud; enables Amazon\u2019s SageMaker AI models to interact with Salesforce data in much the same way as its own Einstein models; and through Salesforce AppExchange will allow third-party developers to create apps that exploit its capabilities. Already, 18 partners have created apps for the Genie platform, Salesforce said.\n\nAll this gives Genie the power to release customer data trapped in the marketing department, according to Liz Miller, VP and principal analyst at Constellation Research.\n\n\u201cFor the most part, CDPs are sold as marketing toys that address marketing things, but what we have here is a unified data model that is now a shared service across the stack,\u201d said Miller.\n\nBetter yet, Genie\u2019s open approach means it\u2019s unlikely to interfere with CIOs\u2019 own data lake strategies, she said.\n\n\u201cIt might not be as sexy as big new unveils, but it can deliver and is real, which I think the market craves after decades of chasing lofty terms like \u2018personalization,\u2019\u201d said Miller. \u201cIt makes Customer360 usable instead of it being an aspirational model of what we want to achieve.\u201d\n\nAs 451\u2019s Kingstone surmised, the new customer data platform has its roots in Salesforce\u2019s 2020 acquisition of Evergage, which had built a personalization engine (later rebranded as Salesforce Interaction Studio) on top of its own CDP.\n\nGenie has parts of that Evergage CDP at its heart, according to Patrick Stokes, general manager for Salesforce Platform.\n\n\u201cIt was originally constructed with quite a bit of the lake house type of capability that Evergage brought to bear,\u201d he said. \u201cWe\u2019ve since updated that pretty significantly to implement Apache Iceberg.\u201d\n\nIceberg, an open-source table format originally developed at Netflix, is key to Genie\u2019s openness. It enables the efficient use of SQL for big data analytics, and is supported by data lake engines including Snowflake, Dremio and Spark.\n\nAlthough Snowflake is Salesforce\u2019s marquee partner for data sharing with Genie, the door is open to anyone who wants to implement Iceberg, whether they\u2019re a software vendor or an end user, Stokes said.\n\nThe case for real-time data\n\nGenie officially goes live on September 20, the opening day of Dreamforce, but behind the scenes, hundreds of enterprises are already using it to personalize customer interactions, Stokes said.\n\nAmong them are L\u2019Or\u00e9al, which is interconnecting online and offline shopping experiences with Salesforce; Formula 1, which is using it to connect with motor racing fans; and Ford, using it to provide a single source of truth all the way from purchase through onboarding of connected services to ongoing maintenance of its vehicles. Ford can use Genie for everything from scheduling periodic service to delivering urgent roadside assistance, he said.\n\nHowever, not everyone will benefit from the new real-time capabilities, Stokes said, but there are situations where the difference between live and day-old data can be critical.\n\nA key feature of Genie is that data \u2014 whether clinical, environmental or transactional \u2014 isn\u2019t just ingested in real time: \u201cWe have the ability to stream all of that in in real time and make what we call calculated insights in real time,\u201d he said. \u201cIn the healthcare industry, they\u2019re trying to keep their customers alive. Operating off batch data can literally be life or death for some.\u201d Fraud prevention applications will also benefit from Genie\u2019s real-time capabilities, he said.