Lightning strikes with Salesforce Winter 16. Most of the release notes, or at least the first half of the release notes, are all about the new Lightning Experience which is billed as the New, Modern, Intelligent User Experience for Salesforce. As Salesforce spent about half the release notes focusing on Lightning I too will spend about half of this post talking about Lightning but then get to some other core enhancements that will certainly delight users and admins alike.
It goes without saying that I have to mention the Lightning Experience as a feature coming in Winter. Some things to know and consider right off the bat. This is a brand new user experience for long time Salesforce users. It’s based on a more modern interface and in this first iteration is really geared towards Sales. It is very much a component based experience for both users and administrators. All the “widgets” on the page are now components that can be dragged and dropped all over the place. They are all optimized for mobile use as well, as they should be considering the Lightning Experience was really born out of the Salesforce1 mobile application.
Highlights include a brand new homepage with customizable sales goal chart, a really slick looking Opportunity Board where users can drag and drop their Opportunities between sales stages, and a really slick desktop implementation of the Sales Path which we all know and love from the mobile experience.
This is the new direction for Salesforce and I would expect much of the next releases to be very much focused on the Lightning Experience. Salesforce has also learned from past rollouts, think Chatter, and have made this instantly available to turn on for certain users at a Profile or Permission Set level. Once turned on users can even bounce back and forth between the “Classic” and “Lightning” experiences which will make the transition go a lot more smoothly.
Take caution though when turning on the new experience; there are certainly features and functions that will either work very differently, not work at all, or kinda sorta work. So don’t just flip the switch and turn this on, think through all the ramifications and get your org ready for Lightning.
Custom Lookup Fields from Activities to Other Records
This open beta feature is finally generally available. You can create multiple lookups on an Activity to relate all sorts of records to an Activity. You are no longer hamstrung by only having the two lookup fields that come out of the box. Some things to consider here is that they work slightly differently than the standard lookups do on Activities. Records related to an Activity via a custom lookup show up in their own related list on the looked up record. It’s also just one related list as opposed to an Open Activities and Activity History list.
Set Audit Fields Upon Record Creation
For years when doing data migrations you would have to contact Salesforce support and open up a ticket to allow you to insert data into the Created Date and Last Modified Date fields. This was always a task that should have been able to be done without the assistance of Salesforce support. With Winter 16 whenever you are inserting data via the API you can now write to Audit fields. This just made data migration a whole lot easier. The feature is also well protected, meaning it’s behind an organization wide setting that needs to be turned on and then the permission to perform this task must be assigned via Permission Set or Profile.
Choose Test Options for Change Sets
I don’t know about you but I do a lot of deployments from Sandboxes to Production using Change Sets. You can now choose which tests to run when deploying or validating an inbound change set in production. This could potentially be a huge time saver, especially if there are a lot of test methods in the target organization you are deploying to. You can set which specific tests to run upon deployment by specifying them in a comma separated list. There are actually four levels of test options now some of which will even run managed code - look out ISVs, your coverage better be solid moving forward.
So these are just a few features I thought were worth calling out. As always there will be future blog posts that cover a range of topics like sales, service, development, and more. Look for the entire series to be posted week over week for the next month or so.
We leave Dreamforce 2015, our minds swirling with the visions, sounds, ideas, acquired knowledge, and inspiration collected throughout the four days, wondering how it all fits, what it all will mean in a few weeks, months, years and knowing it will sort itself out.
The numbers were astounding - over 170K registrants (about a fifth of the total population of San Francisco), 1,600+ sessions with over 400 partner exhibitors - Dreamforce literally consumed the city. Many may not realize that Dreamforce is the second of what locals refer to as the “holy trifecta of conferences” that occur within weeks of each other, VMWorld and Oracle OpenWorld being the other two, but I digress. Back to the numbers, and specifically the 1-1-1 model that we all have come to know, love and emulate; Salesforce’s model delivered 1.1M+ hours of service, $100M in grants, along while providing 26K+ Nonprofit organizations with $250M of donated product. Giving Books surpassed its One Million goal by ending at 1,006,225 books donated. Kudos to all of us who donated!
This year’s conference introduced us to the Internet of Things Cloud (IoTC), Thunder, SalesforceIQ and SalesforceIQ for Sales Cloud, and expanded upon the recent introduction of the Lightning Experience. It was focused on the customer and featured both a Women's Leadership Summit and Mindfulness days. The week flowed with innovative companies, ideas, products and workshops and was over in the blink of an eye.
Highlights this year included:
Dr. Laura Esserman and the Wisdom Study
During the keynote, Marc sequed into discussing cancer and notes the impact it has had on everyone in the room. A video introduces us to Dr. Laura Esserman at UCSF who is leading Athena, a new collaboration for treating and managing women’s cancer. Now the meaning of “connected customer” resonates, as Marc and Dr. Esserman speak of The Wisdom Study, “targeted one-to-one medicine”, inviting all of us to “join, step up to the plate. Share your data, share your wisdom.” This is powerful stuff, I envision the positive impact and benefits it will deliver and I look forward to learning ways in which I can contribute.
SalesforceIQ for Small Business and SalesforceIQ for Sales Cloud are the result of their acquisition of RelateIQ last year. The product announcement was met with big applause during the keynote and rightly so, as it leads the transformation from reactive to proactive communications and sales. Many of us loaded the mobile app immediately and could not help but be impressed with its functionality.
Women in Leadership
Salesforce invited us to “get inspired to lead and advocate for women in the workplace” with this program. The track began for me with the “Building an Inclusive Workplace” panel discussion facilitated by Kara Swisher, executive editor for Re/code. Kara is no stranger to the issues that women face in and out of the tech industry, and she led Marc Benioff and Parker Harris in a thought-provoking and entertaining discussion. Benioff admitted that they failed by not prioritizing this issue when they began the company and Parker told us about the “equal pay for equal work” and “Women’s Surge” programs now in place to address the issues. While stating that they are focused first and foremost on their company, Marc and Parker did convey that these concerns must be prioritized by all leaders. The exchanges between Kara and the two leaders were fantastic and down to earth, refreshing in light of the seriousness of the problem. The discussion carried over in many of our conversations throughout the rest of the event, evidence that the panel was successful in bringing the situation to the table.
My day ended with the “Women’s Innovation” panel hosted by Gayle King and featuring YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and The Honest Company founder (and actress) Jessica Alba. Gayle King did not appear to have done her homework and immediately admitted that she did not know a thing about Salesforce or Dreamforce as she proceeded to question the participants. It should be noted that other blogs focused on Gayle’s inappropriate line of questioning. The guests were gracious and provided inspiration, but I couldn’t help feel that the session did not fully capitalize on the opportunity to dig deeper into the issues with these powerful leaders.
There is nothing like a Dreamforce gala event and this year was no exception. From the lineup to the atmosphere, the experience is second to none. Kudos to the team that came up with the location and the crew that delivered on the lights and sound, the combination was over the top. If you were previously not a fan of any of the bands, there’s no doubt that you walked away as one, and I would place a bet that you will never turn down an opportunity to see the Foo Fighters again. Wow!
Early in the keynote, as I heard the familiar strains of Stevie Wonder performing some of his classic songs, I smiled widely. When he invited the audience to join in an improvisational scat it was a magic moment, hearing the tech crowd join in was priceless. Stevie Wonder will always be a highlight, he was fantastic and his smile lights the room.
Trailhead and Lodges
We had Lodges instead of Zones and they were on fire! The Trailhead theme was a huge hit and provided a solid, well, trail map, to follow along the conference. From the Airstream trailers on Dream Street to the carved bear at the front of the Developer Lodge, Trailhead was front and center and invited us to jump in and learn.
Trailhead is a great tool and Salesforce deployed it to full effect. Expect it to be available for your own customization and use, we at Arkus have incorporated it into our onboarding process due to its rich content.
Salesforce & Microsoft
The presence of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella throughout the conference is evidence of how far the partnership has come. While admittedly it used to be enjoyable to poke fun at Microsoft, this year you couldn’t help notice that we now finally have integration of Microsoft Outlook and Office products; it’s a huge win for all of us. I must admit however, I did snicker when Satya kicked off a live demo of Outlook using an iPhone during his fireside chat with Marc and covered his choice by saying “I’d like to call it the iPhone Pro because it has all the Microsoft software on it”.
For me, this was a fitting end to the week. Hearing the wisdom of Larry Brilliant, Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield, Donna Karan, Goldie Hawn and how they incorporate mindfulness in their lives equipped me to head back to the world, back to helping others.
Dreamforce once again invited us to participate in their transformation of the way we work and live and provided us the foundational technology and ideas to guide our next steps. How were you inspired, what were your highlights?
Dreamforce has had a Dev Zone for the past several years and consistently ups the bar for developer related sessions and workshops that are available to conference attendees. Its allure brings executives looking for art of the possible, seasoned developers looking to continue pushing the bar of their platform apps, and admins interested in learning more about development. I have found the Dev Zone offers me inspiration about what can be built on the Salesforce Platform, and helps me build my skills as a developer. Here are a few sessions that I am excited about over the 4 days of Dreamforce ‘15.
Lightning is sure to play a major role across Dreamforce ‘15 as Salesforce’s new UI has officially launched. Learning about the new Lightning Design System (LDS) is a great session to understand how to leverage their new CSS framework for custom applications. LDS is packed full of great UI components including its own grid system for responsive design, so this will be an excellent first step into learning more about this new design framework that is approaching its v1 release.
Being mobile first is a need at Dreamforce since laptops are heavy and there’s a ton of walking, and learning about how to tie Salesforce’s Mobile SDK with Ionic Framework is a session that can explain how to build a consumer facing app that ties into Salesforce and leverages cutting edge UI framework built with Angular.
Salesforce is also committing to build a developer community that embraces diversity, and these evening meetups in Moscone West are a great way to get involved if you’re a woman, black, latino, LGBTQ, or have a disability. Dreamforce is a great opportunity to meet and discuss your experiences, share advice, and continue to raise awareness about diversity in tech.
Dev Zone offers topics for developers that are transitioning from other platforms to Salesforce, and an introduction to Apex’s nuances is always a good way to start the morning. Another great way to get started is living in a virtual reality display of Salesforce data using Google Cardboard, which may not be the future of analytics, but is certainly an amazing highlight of how to combine the power of Salesforce with physical space.
Integrations help fuel the power of Salesforce as a platform of engagement, and Lightning Connect gains support for two-way integration to its External Objects. Learning about this powerful feature of the platform is also possible with a hands-on training to become familiar with the OData protocol.
With 2 days of great sessions beforehand, Salesforce saves their Developer Keynote for Thursday to highlight new features and amazing use cases that the platform helps developers build for their employees, customers, and partners. Thursday sessions that are helpful for developers and development team managers to build their soft skills, such as implementing a mentor program to build junior resources and help senior resources share their knowledge.
Developers can also learn to write articles and blog posts that highlight their technical solutions from a particular lens that can appeal to a broader audience, and offer a structural pattern for writing about their interests and experiences for their dev brand. Speaking is another challenge for some developers, as the excitement about a topic or depth of knowledge may leave an incomplete message. There’s a session to help turn knowledge into meaningful presentations for tech conferences and meetups.
As the conference winds down and people head back to get ready for post Dreamforce building, there are sessions set up nearly every hour that can be useful for developers, designers, and technical staff that are looking for advice. It may be worth having a code consultation on existing customizations or something built over the first 3 days, or talk to a team about assessing career growth within the Salesforce (and general cloud-based) ecosystem.
The Dev Zone has tons to offer, and there are hundreds of sessions every day that appeal to developers, architects, and admins. If you have a session that you’d love to highlight, leave comments and questions below, on our Facebook page, directly @RogerMitchell on Twitter, or in the Success Community!
Why meeting people at Dreamforce is The Best
Sometimes networking feels like a dirty word, and sure, you could approach Dreamforce like a typical business conference and only scan the crowd for potential clients or employers, but if that’s all you did you would be missing out on the thriving network of the Salesforce community that comes to life at Dreamforce. Take advantage of the spirit of collaboration and learning that permeates the event, open up and exchange ideas with the people you meet regardless of where they fall on the corporate hierarchy. There’s some magic to making new connections in this context, and you will be surprised at how much you can learn.
So how do I do it?
First, if you are with a group, make absolutely sure to break out of the circle and talk to people other than your colleagues. And if you are Flyin’ Solo, as I did my first two times, there is a Success Community group dedicated to your specific situation.
In fact, the best resource for finding occasions at Dreamforce to connect with others who share your interests is the Success Community. There are interest based groups for everything from fitness to beer, and even a group specifically for finding the best parties (and there are lots of parties!) And make sure to join All Dreamforce for general updates and goings on before and during the event.
You can also download the Dreamforce mobile app (iTunes/Google Play) to help you discover and navigate activities on the go. The Developer Zone and Admin Zone are perfect places to meet people working in a similar capacity and learn from each other, as well as participate in activities promoting diversity and inclusion in the Salesforce community.
Dreamforce is a great opportunity to talk to people using Salesforce in similar ways. User groups for specific products like Knowledge and Pardot and industry verticals may hold formal meetups, but one of the best ways to meet these co-users is to talk to people in line for the sessions. I always recommend talking to people in line, even if that line is just for lunch or to enter a party. Look up from your phone and find out what you have in common. You already have something to talk about--the thing you are in line for, how much you are enjoying the event, if it is your first time… there’s so much context you really have no excuse not to try!
Keeping it going after the event
A great way to keep in touch with people you meet is to follow them on Twitter and in the Success Community. It is easy to reach out on the Success Community when you have a question and get feedback from your new friends and contacts. Many passionate Salesforce users are also active on Twitter, and following them is a great way to keep up on their insights. Add Linkedin to this list for people with whom you’ve made an extensive connection, and be sure to send an email to these connections within a couple weeks after the event.
Finally, make it easy for the people you meet to find you and keep up the dialogue from their end. Make sure your Success Community and Linkedin profiles are up to date with your current job and information and a recent, professional picture (the same picture for both) that clearly shows your face, so that your new connections are sure they’ve located the right person. Put this on your to-do list to be completed before the start of the event.
Most of all don’t be afraid to have fun. This is an occasion to celebrate our successes together. So enjoy yourself, you’ve earned it, and with a true smile on your face you’re bound to make some friends along the way.
Last year was a great year for admins and this year will be even better. Admins had their first keynote last year, which took place at the Hilton and it had such a great turnout that the room was filled to capacity. This year the Admin Keynote is the place to be on Thursday in the the Moscone West. This keynote will be featuring Parker Harris, Shawna Wolverton, Sarah Franklin, Mike Gerholdt, along with two other special guests. The energy in the room was great last year and we even received Awesome Admin capes, so make sure to stop by.
Speaking of celebration of admins, this year there is an official #Admin Day also taking place on Thursday. Can’t forget to mention the Admin Zone will be back again after a great debut last year. As a Dreamforce newbie the Admin Zone was my go-to spot; I got to meet a lot of people I interacted with through the community in person and learned a ton. You can look forward to great demos, sessions, presentations, an Ask The Experts area, and even live podcasting, which will be featuring our very own CloudFocus Weekly. Last year the photo booth was a lot of fun and there will also be a photographer taking headshots located on the second floor of Moscone West.
Wearing your Business Analyst Hat
This session will be covering how to step outside of the administrator mindset and look at processes though a business analyst perspective. It will cover what types of questions you should be asking for the best possible outcome
Salesforce offers many different options when it comes to automating business processes. Join this session to take a look at how some leading companies are using Builder, Flow and Workflow, also learn about how they have benefited. Hopefully you can think of a process that can currently be streamlined at your organization and come back with a solution to help save users valuable time.
Documentation is Key
Because you can never have too much documentation! Check out this session on how to use Google sites and other best practices regarding documentation. It is extremely important to have a reference of your org as it can serve as a knowledge transfer document in case of an emergency. Having background information will avoid guessing games or possible loss of functionality if a new admin ever has to take ownership of the system. It will also help keep things up to date by keeping a close eye on important metrics such as, usage limitations, licensing or upgrades.
With so many sessions dedicated to admins this year it is hard to choose, but I hope my choices motivate you to go out and register and get ready to have fun learning from the rest of the #AwesomeAdmin community. For more information check out Admin Success at Dreamforce Road To Dreamforce Episode. You can also start earning badges using Trailhead , and hit the ground running at Dreamforce. There are a few Admin specific trails ranging from beginner level to advanced, a Dreamforce Trail and even a new trail for Lighting Experience content.
The largest software conference on the planet is only a few weeks away. Dreamforce hits the streets of San Francisco from September 15th to September 18th and there is no better way to kick-off the NFL season than to hear about what is new in the world of Cloud Computing with over 130,000+ other Salesforce disciples. Here are the top ten reasons to attend Dreamforce 2015.
Some people consider Dreamforce a vacation so why not add a cruise ship to the equation? Finding housing for over 130,000 people close to the Moscone Center has become a tough task, so much so that I have seen rooms go for over $900 due to the high demand. Into Pier 27 comes the Dreamboat provided by Celebrity Cruises. Sounds like an opportunity to learn about Salesforce during the day and party on a cruise ship at night. I am not staying on the Dreamboat but I definitely think it is a cool idea.
#9 Breaking News
Safe Harbor! Safe Harbor! Every year Salesforce releases something new and exciting coming to a Salesforce Org near you. Last year we were presented with Salesforce1 Lightning and Wave. Will Lightning strike again? Time will only tell.
#8 Dreamfest and UCSF Benefit featuring the Foo Fighters and Gary Clark Jr.
I wasn't at Dreamforce in 2008 so it is great to hear that they are bringing back the Foo Fighters. Since 2008 they have gotten bigger and better and are one of last real rock bands out there. With a new venue, Pier 70, I expect this to be a night talked about for awhile.
The "SWAG" (Stuff We All Get) given out at the multiple expo halls just keeps getting better and better each year. Partners spare no expense and if last year was any indication of what is to come this year, I think some of us may need a second suitcase. Last year we saw the likes of Penny Skateboards, GoPro Cameras, Exercise trackers and of course a lot of free refreshments! What will they come up with this year?
The amount of celebrity and industry leaders speaking at Dreamforce goes up each year. Goldie Hawn (Actor), Susan Wojcicki (CEO of YouTube), Jessica Alba (Actor) and Satya Nadella (CEO of Microsoft) are just some of the names that will be speaking this year. Make sure you plan out your agenda sooner than later so you don't miss out. Some will have limited seating so registering sooner than later is recommended.
On Wednesday, September 16th, 2015 at 6:30am at the Ferry Building on Embarcadero the 3rd Annual Dreamforce Community 5k Fun Run will take place. I had the pleasure to run in this last year and it was a great way to start the day and promote health and wellness. No track star requirements for this run. All levels welcome.
A big issue that Marc Benioff has taken head on is gender equality in the workplace. The Women's Leadership Track at Dreamforce will focus on women that have succeeded in predominantly male fields and can give the playbook to other women. Susan Wojcicki (CEO of YouTube) and Jessica Alba (Actor) headline this track with the hopes to inspire both men and women to change the industry once and for all!
This is one of two on the list that will never change. Each year we get to meet new people from around the world who share the love for Salesforce and other things. This is a great time and place to reconnect with friends old and new. I cannot tell you how many friends I have that the relationship started at Dreamforce.
#2 Marc Benioff
Getting the opportunity to hear Marc Benioff speak in person is not as easy as it once was. If you missed Marc at Dreamforce you always had the opportunity to hear him at one of the WorldTour (Formerly Cloudforce) events in a city near you. Nowadays it seems Marc makes an appearance at only a few so getting to hear him live is a treat. I always get inspired after one of his keynotes and I don't expect this year to be any different.
As always this is the top reason for going to Dreamforce no matter what. If Salesforce is critical to your business or if you are thinking about it, this conference is a must for you. You get access to over 1,500 sessions, 1,000+ product demos, hands on trainings, certifications and other educational opportunities such as meeting with product managers or mingling with Salesforce MVPs in the Admin Zone.