Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce conference has become the cloud computing event of the year — it has even surpassed Interop CES and Gartner Symposium as the must-attend enterprise tech conference. So what does it take to create such a popular industry event?

Image: Dreamforce attracted more than 130,000 attendeesIn November, more than 130,000 people attended the eleventh annual Dreamforce conference, including more than 4,500 C-level executives. An additional 200,000 people joined Dreamforce via Salesforce Live. The numbers are undeniably impressive, but even more so when you think that 90,000 people took part in it last year and just 8,000 attended six years ago.

For Dreamforce, a perfect storm has contributed to it’s continued success. While content is king — Dreamforce featured keynotes from visionary leaders including Marc Benioff, Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg along with more than 1,250 expert-led sessions — the timing also comes into play.

The event occurs in November, when salespeople are trying to close their quarter, marketers are looking at their budgets for the following year and the C-suite executives are seeking any competitive edge they can get. Dreamforce lets attendees get close to new technologies and learn about the latest product updates before making investment decisions for the upcoming year.

The event’s success also speaks to the growing importance of cloud and mobile technologies. So many of the innovative enterprise startups are being built around these tech trends.

Not only is Dreamforce able to capitalize on the latest trend, the company that launched it, Salesforce.com, has proven that it knows what it is talking about. Salesforce is on the leading edge of social and mobile cloud technologies for sales, marketing and customer care, and the conference came just as Salesforce closed its first billion-dollar quarter.

Focusing on the People Behind the Devices

Dreamforce is also about connections. In today’s world, companies are looking to connect with their customers in a whole new way, and Dreamforce provides tips, best practices and how-tos from the industry leaders.

During his keynote, Benioff said there has never been a more important time to listen, to interact and to engage with customers. He added that it is vital for companies to recognize that behind the 50 billion connected devices in the marketplace, every app, every tweet and everything else on the Internet, there is a customer.

That is why Forbes called Dreamforce “the ideal event for business, IT and other professionals interested in turning their companies into customer companies.”

Finding and connecting with customers is the great challenge, and great connections come from anticipating needs and interests.

Benioff even discussed a day where customers would have a relationship with mundane items like toothbrushes and the vendors behind them. “Everything is on the Net. And we will be connected in phenomenal new ways,” he said. “I want to connect not just with the product, but the company. I want to be connected. I want all the vendors of everything to be customer companies.”

While business and industries are preparing to make this switch, they need to remember that it isn’t just technology and social media that connect us. It is human media. Like Benioff said, behind every app, mobile device, Tweet or post, is an individual.

*Photo credit:  @francisco_salanga