2016 has been interesting to say the least. A lot has happened and has caused more anxiety and separation then togetherness. Elections, terrorism, and social issues has overshadowed a lot of the good that has happened this year and it’s important more than ever to give thanks for the good that has happened. Salesforce for one has not only had a good economic impact but also a tremendous social impact. So, since the holiday season is that one time of year (unfortunately) we look to give thanks here are the top 10 reasons, in no particular order, to be grateful for Salesforce in 2016.
The largest technology conference in 2016 took place in San Francisco this past October and once again we were treated with a week of education, product releases, entertainment, philanthropy, and spiritual enlightenment. Attendees got the pleasure to hear keynotes and campfire discussions the likes of Melinda Gates, Deborah Dugan, Rep. John Lewis and Billie Jean King.
Salesforce always has certain non profits focused on at Dreamforce and offer opportunity to help both in volunteer time and money. This year one of the non profits highlighted was (RED) an organization started by Bono and Bobby Shriver, whose mission is to deliver an AIDS-free generation. The goal set for Dreamforce was $1 Million Dollars. Thanks to the generous contributions of the attendees and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation they were able to raise $3 Million Dollars!
I have to admit I was a bigger fan of the concert in 2015 but you can not complain when you get to see one of the greatest bands of all time U2. We were entertained by a 15 song setlist filled with their greatest hits. I don’t think the venue was a big hit but the entertainment definitely was. This concert raised 10 million dollars for UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. How can you top that next year.
Salesforce created VetForce in 2014 to help prepare veterans for a civilian career in IT. Since that time, more than 50 technology companies that have collectively pledged to train 60,000 and hire more than 11,000 veterans and military spouses by 2021.
Chief Equality Officer
This year Salesforce hired Tony Prophet to be their Chief Equality Officer. Though it is sad that a position needs to be in place, it is just another example of Salesforce fighting for more equality at every level and for every person. I hope Tony does a great job and sets a standard for other companies to follow.
Dreamforce raised a lot of money for (RED) but it also impacted local youth and nonprofits. Attendees helped Project Open Hand, a nonprofit that provides meals with love to critically ill neighbors and seniors, put together 2,000 STEM education kits and 2,000 Food=Medicine bags. More than that, over 400 students from San Francisco and Oakland Unified School Districts joined the festivities for coding classes, workshops, and campus tours.
Salesforce was a founding partner of the Pledge 1% movement which is the commitment of companies to pledge 1% of its equity, product and time to philanthropy. I added this to the list because we at Arkus are very proud to have officially made this pledge in 2016 and also to promote it. If you work for a company that hasn’t made the pledge, I recommend you talk to someone to help make that happen.
The Lightning Experience was the big announcement last year at Dreamforce and though the Salesforce UI needed a facelift, it wasn’t ready for primetime. It makes the list this year again because of the progress it has made since it was introduced. All of the releases this year have been Lightning focused and with each day we get closer to a retirement of Salesforce Classic. Feel free to check out our blog to see the progress it has made to date.
The big product announcement this year at Dreamforce was the release of Einstein which is the introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to the Salesforce Platform. Our initial thoughts on Einstein can be read here but it is another great example of Salesforce’s dedication to bring new and forward thinking technology to your Salesforce org.
From the time Salesforce was a tiny company Marc Benioff had philanthropy integrated into its DNA. He has raised millions of dollars, built hospitals, lobbied for social reform and has set a standard for how companies should operate. It is my hope that other leaders of this world see what he has done and start to adopt his way of thinking. The world is at a critical breaking point and we need more leaders like Marc Benioff.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and we are all feeling that warm and fuzzy giving spirit. Salesforce Lightning has been built upon for the last few releases but still finds itself needing a little more work. It’s time to give a little love to some of the ideas that are out there waiting for our votes on the Salesforce IdeaExchange. Here are some of the ideas that stood out to me:
The name says it all here. If you have used Lightning Experience before, this will be an all too familiar issue. Unfortunately, in Lightning’s current state, the performance can lag at times. With a name like ‘Lightning’, Salesforce users expect the performance to be seamless and fast. This is a must vote.
Customization is one of my favorite things to do. Lightning Experience provides us with such a flexible and pretty user interface and it’s time to add to that. Every one of my clients use record types for at least one object in their instance of Salesforce. Sure, it is nice to have the ability to assign a custom record page to Lightning apps, or make it the default for all, but record types add a greater amount of flexibility. The ability to customize and segment objects to best meet your company’s requirements is key. In my opinion, this is a must have in Lightning.
Related lists are great. They are incredibly useful in helping scan through related records on a page and see the most vital information without actually having to click into them. In Salesforce Classic, you have the ability to add up to 10 fields to a related list. At the moment, Lightning Experience only allows you to add up to 4 fields. In a lot of cases, this just isn’t going to be enough to display all of the information that needs to be seen on the related list. This is a step back in functionality, seems like kind of a no-brainer, right? Let’s get this one voted up.
The IdeaExchange is an awesome space that allows all Salesforce users to come together in one place, post ideas about how to make Salesforce better, and vote on other people’s suggestions that they see as potentially useful. As a member of the Salesforce Community, it’s your civic duty to get out there and vote! We the people are the ones who know what we need to be more successful using Salesforce!
What do you think of Lightning? Have any ideas for features you think should be implemented? Share them with me on the Arkus Facebook page, in the comments below, in the Success Community, or to me directly via Twitter at @RyanOwensRPO.
I’ve been working at Arkus for a little less than a year now. We’re a tight-knit group of project managers and developers who thrive on pushing ourselves every day to provide the best possible solutions for our clients. As much as that sounds like an elevator pitch, I can honestly say it’s the truth. If you’ve ever worked with us, you’ve heard one of us say “Arkus is little different than your average consulting firm”. While that’s very true in the way that we approach our work with clients, I’d like to talk about what at Arkus stands out for me as an employee.
My Clients Are My Own
Unlike other consulting firms that pass project phases between teams of people, project managers at Arkus handle the entire lifecycle of a project from scoping to configuration to training. That doesn’t mean we don’t help each other, but I feel a very strong sense of ownership for the projects and clients who are considered mine. When the goal is to serve the client, the personal relationship this model fosters provides them with a resource who is always close at hand. The most rewarding part of my work is the sense that I’m a trusted advisor to my clients who can respond and adapt to their needs.
Track What You Do, Not What You Don’t
As an employee, I am required to book my hours in Salesforce every day. I have an annual hours goal that I break down by month. That sounds simple enough, and it is. More importantly, what's not tracked is when and where I book those hours. It’s the same freedom and flexibility I enjoyed while consulting independently without all the hassle of being self-employed. As someone with young children, I value this flexibility more than anything. I never miss dinner with my family and I regularly schedule time to spend outside with my kids during the week.
With Great Flexibility Comes The Need For Better Time Management
Working at Arkus obviously requires a deep knowledge of the Salesforce platform but more importantly we are provided with training and a methodology to manage our time and resources. This methodology has pervaded all aspects of my life well beyond the work that I do for Arkus. It’s easily the most challenging transition I’ve had to make while working here. I’ve gone from basically winging it to a well-documented system of accountability that tells me exactly what I need to do on any given day. I still miss deadlines and fall short of goals, but the methodology includes ways of handling that too. This blog post was due yesterday, so I needed to reset expectations about that deadline with Justin who heads up the blog. Adopting the system fully takes time. It’s changing your habits around the way you handle things, and the best way to break an old habit is to form a new one.
Organizations who value the more personal relationship that a company like Arkus provides tend to be awesome. I have a broad spectrum of clients from non profits to financial services but one common thread among them is people who care about having a positive impact on the world around them.
My co-workers are cool. Given the mix of responsibility and freedom that we as project managers have at Arkus, this job attracts a certain kind of person. They are intelligent, driven, and creative people who break the traditional consultant mold. Arkus provides an environment where we can thrive. Many of us are remotely located around the country including myself in Minneapolis. Unfortunately, that means it’s only a few times a year that we all get together. I’m always looking forward to the next Arkus meetup.
This is probably reading like a love letter to Arkus, but working here has changed my life for the better, so maybe that's what it is. Workplaces that change their focus toward the things that really matter, like employee empowerment and client satisfaction, while ignoring the things that don’t, are setting a new standard for consulting firms. I’m learning every day and working hard for fantastic organizations. I’m lucky to work here.
What do you love about where you work? Want to share your experiences or opinions? Share them with me on the Arkus Facebook page, in the comments below, in the Success Community, or to me directly via Twitter at @jbujold.
Einstein once said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” I have to give Salesforce some credit here. They are always pushing the envelope and trying new things. With that said, they have made their fair share of mistakes as well. That's why while attending Dreamforce this year, I was intrigued but skeptical about the newly announced Salesforce Einstein. Einstein is Salesforce’s way of introducing Artificial Intelligence (AI) onto the platform. The whole thing was quickly glossed over in the opening keynote and left me craving some gritty details. I made my way over to the Einstein demo area afterward in hopes of getting a glimpse behind the scenes. Unfortunately, more flashy demos about how fast “Steve Benioff” can sell a widget to “Mark Jobs” with the help of Salesforce Einstein ensued. Finally, I was able to get some one on one time at a kiosk with a guy who was actually configuring some of the tools behind Einstein. Score.
I know what your thinking. How do you configure AI? Shouldn’t it just tell me what I need to know and finish responding to my emails for me already? Einstein is made up of a few key tools: Machine Learning, Deep Learning, and Natural Language Processing. Let’s break these down a bit.
- This is the process of looking for patterns and trends in your data and returning recommendations based on predictions according to the trend. This could help predict the reaction of a customer to an email marketing campaign based on the reaction of similar customers reacting to similar campaigns.
- Deep Learning is most notably used to process images. Facebook uses deep learning to recognize faces in your photos. This allows you to ‘teach’ Salesforce to look for things you may be interested in, such as your branding in the image of a social media post.
Natural Language Processing
- The name actually explains this one pretty well. This is how a computer reads and ‘understands’ text. It can allow the recognition of more complex meaning within a text including sentiment and emotion, offering further insight into the mind of a customer or prospect.
My demo at the kiosk walked through an example of setting up Deep Learning to recognize if an image of a car was an Audi or a BMW. We started by uploading a few thousand images of each one. Based on what it had learned, we gave it a few single images and asked it to identify what it was. We give it an image of a BMW 3 series and Einstein responded with 98% certainty that this was a BMW. Nice one Einstein. There didn’t seem to be anything glaringly missing here. It may take me a while to amass that many images of one type of car, but beyond that, the configuration was fairly straightforward and effective.
AI by definition is the appearance of intelligence exhibited by a machine. So how intelligent is Salesforce Einstein? Only as intelligent as your data. Each of the tools relies on accurate data in large amounts in order to operate effectively. It's unclear what sort of limitations or difficulties small and new organizations may experience while trying to take advantage of certain aspects of Machine Learning.
My takeaway here is that Einstein is not another Siri or Cortana with preset functionality and commands. It’s a fully configurable set of intelligent tools that can be applied directly to business applications on the Salesforce platform. Of course, the future of these tools is much more exciting than the initial offering, but I for one, can’t wait to dive in. As AI turns the corner into Turing test territory we’ll all be out of a job anyway.
What Salesforce is doing with AI is bold, but similar to lightning, it may be a while before Einstein really takes hold with a broad audience. We’ll have to wait and see where this takes us.
How do you feel about Einstein? Want to share your experiences or opinions? Share them with me on the Arkus Facebook page, in the comments below, in the Success Community, or to me directly via Twitter at @jbujold.
Now that Dreamforce 16 is over, it is time to focus on the next phase of Salesforce, Lightning. Salesforce Lightning Experience started off slow but has improved dramatically with each release. Personally, I love Lightning Experience. I think it is modern, sleek, and ultimately is the future of Salesforce. At the moment, there is a hanging issue with the performance but that should be handled in future releases. The Winter 17 release makes some of the biggest jumps in the Lightning Experience yet. Let’s talk about some of my favorite features:
This is great –– Salesforce is catching up with the times with Lightning Login. You can receive a notification on your phone and authenticate via fingerprint or PIN. No more hassle of having to remember passwords. This is a significant boost to convenience and efficiency which makes this a must have. Fellow Arkie, Jason Atwood, talked about how much he liked this in one of his recent blog posts. I agree with him, this is definitely ‘The Good Stuff’.
The new release allows you to choose from one of two options when creating a custom record page. You can either make the record page default for all users or you can assign the page to one or more Lightning apps in your Salesforce instance. This is really great because it gives you an awesome level of customization, allowing you to segment your org and deliver a unique user experience per app in Salesforce.
I know I’m not the only one that hates having to go and update individual records from a list view. With the new release, you can now edit individual fields inline and also mass edit records inline directly from a list view. No need to ever have to dive into a record from a list view to make a quick change again. This is big and I know that another fellow Arkie, Holly, agrees with me. It’s a huge time saver and as we all know, efficiency is key.
This is one of my favorite features in this release. The new release grants us the ability to call a process from within another process. This with the combination of being able to invoke flows within a process gives us a ton of flexibility and limitless potential. With that said, this is something that you need to be careful with because it can lead to a lot of potential issues if you are not.
Winter 16 makes the biggest leaps in Lightning functionality yet and Salesforce is listening to us, delivering on our ideas in the IdeaExchange. This is still only the beginning and the sky's the limit for Lightning. I can’t wait to see what the next release has in store for us!
How do you feel about Lightning? Want to share your experiences or opinions? Share them with me on the Arkus Facebook page, in the comments below, in the Success Community, or to me directly via Twitter at @RyanOwensRPO.