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.
Dreamforce 16 is a wrap, four packed days of sessions, keynotes, and non-stop networking (and walking) has left us energized and excited for things to come. Now what? How can we make best use of our renewed vigor? Here are some thoughts and suggestions on how you can harness that energy and put some of what you learned to use.
Support Local Schools - Follow up on Marc Benioff’s call to action during his keynote by reaching out to local schools and asking how you can help. There’s no better way to impact your community and help shape the future.
- Support Nonprofits - Locate and join a local nonprofit user group and seek out an organization that could use some help. Sometimes just lending an ear to users and administrators sharing their concerns or asking questions can lead to a fruitful relationship, offer them a chance to chat over a cup of coffee.
- Check Chatter Feeds - Open up the Events app and check the feed on your bookmarked and attended sessions for presentation attachments and video links. If you haven’t already, identify some best practices, new formulas, and AppExchange apps to implement in a developer org. Make note of sessions that you want to revisit, you may want to clean up your bookmarks to eliminate any sessions that you are no longer interested in. Compile a list of sessions and keynotes that spiked your interest, if you haven’t already.
- Watch Sessions - Visit the Dreamforce Video page and locate any of the sessions or keynotes on your list. Note that the videos will be uploaded over time and plan to revisit periodically. You may find it useful to create a Google alert for “Salesforce Dreamforce 16” videos and have it sent to your inbox.
Grow With Trailhead - One of the highlights of Dreamforce this year was Trailhead. Create a development plan for yourself that includes scheduled training using the tool and hold yourself accountable for completing modules and collecting badges.
Pass It On - Share this amazing tool with peers, family (kids love it) and friends. If you’re like me, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how many people accept the offer, get introduced to the Salesforce platform and adopt Trailhead as part of their regular routine.
Watch Recordings - There were so many awesome keynotes and campfire discussions this year it was nearly impossible to catch them all. Now’s your chance to see what you missed, there are plenty of highlights to keep you satiated. Don’t miss Melinda Gates, Deborah Dugan, Rep. John Lewis, Billie Jean King and of course Dreampitch with the Shark Tank crew.
This monumental Dreamforce event was one for the ages and yet we are only a year away from Dreamforce 17. How do you plan to stay engaged? Please feel free to comment below, on the Salesforce Success Community, on our Facebook page, or directly at me on Twitter @sfdcclicks.
After reflecting on my first Dreamforce, gratitude is my new attitude. My Salesforce badge provided access to a mind blowing amount of knowledge, a wealth of opportunity and over four days to enjoy it. With over 3,000 sessions, I soon realized I was not going to make every event and I needed to let go. I coached myself many times to be present, to stay present, and to make the most of this amazing event.
Arkus kicked off the week with our annual “Welcome to Dreamforce” party, featuring Salesforce.org’s one and only Ryan Boyle and his Hella Good band. So fun to see so many friends of Arkus for a hella good time.
Project Open Hand
One of my favorite events was volunteering for Project Open Hand, a local San Francisco nonprofit that provides meals with love to critically ill neighbors and seniors. 2,500 nutritious meals and 200 bags of groceries are provided every week to help sustain Project Open Hand’s clients. We spent our time packing 2,000 tote bags with a specially designed cookbook, mixing bowls and measuring cups, and the turn-out was tremendous! For individuals, corporations or youth programs interested in additional volunteer opportunities with Project Open Hand, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marc Benioff’s Keynote
Lining up for Marc Benioff’s “Be a Customer Trailblazer” keynote, it was clear just how many people wanted to get a glimpse of this iconic tech genius visionary. In line for over two hours, I visited with folks from India and Sweden. “What brings you to Dreamforce” was my hello and it worked all week long. People come from all over to attend this conference, and everyone had a different story. One old timer remarked that after attending Dreamforce 8 times he just lets Dreamforce come to him.
Seeing Marc Benioff for the first time will stay with me. He strikes me as a humble, quality fellow who showed us clearly what he is all about. Throughout the presentation, Mr. Benioff illustrated how he utilizes his gifts to bring good people together to do great things. I will not forget will.i.am when he spoke so passionately about providing technology, access and opportunity for kids otherwise forgotten and when he shared his video, Where’s the Love to raise money for his cause. I will not forget Deborah Dugan, CEO of (RED), who shared her personal story and path to a nonprofit founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver to engage businesses and consumers to help fight AIDS in Africa.
Another highlight was spending time at the Saleforce.org lodge at the Westin St. Francis. A beautiful home-like hotel to compliment the charm and warmth of all the great folks at Salesforce.org. With client sessions, partner booths, and fun trailblazing activities, it was a lot of fun!
Struck by the level of support and tireless effort from our hosts Salesforce and Salesforce.org as well as the local people supporting such an impressive event, I’d like to extend a huge thank you to everyone that worked so hard to bring us Dreamforce. See you next year!
For highlights, keynote videos, and new product information, go to Dreamforce '16. If you’d like to share your Dreamforce‘16 story, please reach out to us on our Facebook page, or directly at me on Twitter @SCarabetta1 or in the Success Community.
I guess this being my 10th Dreamforce, the duties of writing the "Where is Arkus" blog post seems to be fitting so here is where you can find us, our clients and our products at Dreamforce 16.
We are always so proud to have our clients presenting at Dreamforce, giving them a chance to shine and share their success. This year we have four clients, all from the non profit space.
- Red & Project Open Hand will be presenting in "Innovative Technology and the Fight Against AIDS and HIV" Thursday, October 6, 4:00 PM - 4:40 PM at The Westin St. Francis San Francisco, Tower Salon A
- Boston Scholar Athletes will be presenting in a session called "From Process to Policy: Making Your Platform Mimic Your Organization" which is Tuesday, October 4, 12:30 PM - 12:50 PM at The Westin St. Francis San Francisco, Colonial Room: Power of Us Theater
- Jewish Community Center of San Francisco is presenting in "Jewish Community Center of SF's Robust Membership Solution" Thursday, October 6, 1:30 PM - 1:50 PM at Westin St. Francis San Francisco Colonial Room: Power of Us Theater.
We are so excited that our free AppExchange products get some love at Dreamforce (besides all the pins and stickers we are brining). This year Clone This User has been singled out in a session.
- MVPs will presenting "AppExchange for Experts Salesforce MVPs Share Their App Secrets" Wednesday, October 5, 9:30 AM - 10:10 AM at Moscone West, 2006
Just like Pokemon, you have to catch them all and while lots of Arkies will be attending Dreamforce a few have stepped up to do so presenting.
- Roger will be presenting at session called "Lessons Learned: Building a Hybrid Remote App with Communities and Ionic" Tuesday, October 4, 1:45 PM - 2:15 PM at Moscone West, Mobile Theater
- Justin will be working the Salesforce Security Booth in the Admin Meadow on Tuesday the 4th from 10AM - Noon. Stop by and wish him a belated birthday.
- I will be working the Mobile Admin booth at the Admin Meadow on Wednesday the 5th from 3 to 4pm.
No Dreamforce would be complete without the live coverage of Justin and myself on the CloudFocus Podcast and while Salesforce is being less supportive of the podcasting community this year, we will still be there, roaming the floors and podcasting away.