Decentralizing Salesforce Support for the Good of the Ohana – A Salesforce Blockchain Think Piece
Decentralizing Salesforce Support for the Good of the Ohana

Decentralizing Salesforce Support for the Good of the Ohana – A Salesforce Blockchain Think Piece

04/02/2021 by Justin Edelstein
The Salesforce Blockchain was announced with all the buzz you would imagine surrounding an announcement with the word Blockchain in it by the company Salesforce in the year 2019 at TDX. What has happened since though?

In doing some research about the Salesforce blockchain, I came across only a handful of resources. I found an article on the Blockchain Council website describing the announcement and going into some high level details, but nothing concrete, even though the article calls itself a deep dive. There are also a handful of success stories on the Salesforce website, most notably, the story about vintage Lamborghinis. Lastly, there are a few modules on Trailhead but nothing super deep.

It is now 2021, about two years out from the announcement, and Blockchain is hotter than ever with crypto currencies, NFTs, file transfer protocols, smart contracts, lending, and many other real world decentralized applications and projects being built daily. Marc & Lynne Benioff get it with what they are doing with their personal Time “magazine” project. To be clear, this is not the “what is Blockchain post”, if you are interested in it at a high level, here’s the Trail to take; remember it’s high level. 

My big question, and the purpose of this blog post is, where is the innovation from Salesforce? One main barrier, in my opinion, is the decentralized and distributed nature of Blockchain apps, it kind of flies in the face of a company like Salesforce being the central repository for all things; or does it? Salesforce was a pioneer when it came to building out its community, or Ohana, and my prevailing feeling is a decentralized Blockchain app can enable Salesforce to re-imagine what a community can be. Here’s a use case that would be great to see Salesforce adopt, mind you, this is pretty theoretical, however, I do believe this could work.  

Re-Imagining Salesforce Support as a Decentralized and Incentivized Community 

Salesforce Answers already exists, kinda sorta still. As does Ideas, also a kinda sorta situation, begs the same question, where is the innovation? These two places ought to be the best forums on the internet to go to get the answer to your question, in essence, to receive support as an end user, from the Ohana. Within Answers, there is already the ability to mark a question answered and mark one of the answers as the “best answer.” People are already willing and able to ask and answer questions all day long. What is the incentive however? Become an MVP? Get a Golden Hoodie? Be first on a leaderboard? These are all pretty nice things to incentivize behavior, however, and here is where we pivot; Salesforce Trailblazer Identity is broken so why not take this moment in time to fix it using some forward thinking and innovative ideas to repair some of the lost trust along the way? 

There are far too many examples whereby one actual human is really about fifty different Trailblazers. What gives? Is identity this hard? Yea, apparently it is, to the point where Salesforce has created confusion when people change their companies, when sharing credentials (yes, this happens at consulting firms all the time, deal with it), and when just trying to use Trailhead to learn on their personal accounts while supporting their company and their career using another account. The big question is, why don’t my accomplishments simply and easily come along for the ride with me, the person, as opposed to being tied to my company or some other entity? And further, how can I personally benefit from my engagement in the community while also adding value for my company that I support, work at, and have an emotional tie to at the same time? Real measurable value for my company in the form of something tangible just for having fun? Yes please!

Trailblazer Account Help

Introducing ForceCoin (I know, so lame) 

Talk about value… Customers, partners, Salesforce employees, literally anyone with access, key word there, access, can participate. Your identity is tied to a digital coin! That coin is written into a ledger that is immutable, along with all of your interactions that are deemed value add defined by the Salesforce community team. For example, answer a question and have that answer marked as the best answer, add rewards to the coin. You see, your coin is not just an identifier of who you are, it also carries with it a history of what you’ve done within the community, and with those activities, comes noted value. 

Now, imagine a world where ForceCoin is actually spendable, on Salesforce related “items”, of course. Perhaps in an online SWAG store for goodies like plush dolls, stickers, or gear. People could use the value of the coin to pay for certification vouchers or training provided by Salesforce.

Where it gets super interesting is if an employee of a company can delegate their coins back to the company that they work for, therefore, incentivizing a 3rd party company to provide amazing support and interaction within the Salesforce community. Why? Well, because ForceCoin can be used to pay for anything Salesforce related, including licenses! So as a company, if I empower my administrator to spend their so called spare time in the community, as opposed to reading through their Instagram feed, they can earn themselves some ForceCoin. This value can then, through policies at any given company, be transferred or traded back to the individual's employer to spend with Salesforce and in return the individual employee can be compensated in the form of a bonus, or perhaps a promotion… The possibilities are endless once thinking about how to integrate the value of the coin back into the company as well as for the individual and ultimately Salesforce’s community at large.  

This is super empowering for administrators and power users of Salesforce everywhere. For the first time an administrator can literally measure how much money they are saving their company in cold hard monetary units, in this case measured in ForceCoin, or get paid by their company for the value they add to the Salesforce community. What a recruiting tool if you are a big Salesforce shop! And what a boon this would be for personal / professional brand building.

Salesforce would in essence be creating a completely closed loop ecosystem for their customers, their partners, and their employees to engage in a completely new way while incentivizing the community in ways never really imagined. Just think about the interesting incentives a company can offer their own employees simply to just engage with the Salesforce community at large… 

Why Blockchain Again?

Well, the big thought here is around identity, trust, and transparency into historical transactions, in some cases, micro-transactions such as an answer marked as best. Over time, these transactions become integral to my identity and help to boost my overall standing within the community. Long gone are the days of imposters floating around as someone else, or ghost profiles as Trailblazers. Want that list of MVPs from 2011, easy, it’s on the Blockchain and it can’t be erased. Want that list of Golden Hoodies from 2018, same… And isn’t that a nice thing for those MVPs and Golden Hoodies? In this reality these people can, with authority, and the ability to verify their claim, go out, and promote themselves as the rockstars they are. They can also provide a proven track record of the value they can bring into a company beyond just their verifiable Salesforce skills, rather, they also bring their ForceCoin too... 

This isn’t to say that all the above cannot be done without Blockchain, though, it would be really interesting to see what Salesforce could do with their own Blockchain product and their own community to help solve some of the identity issues and also to reinvent the world of incentivizing behaviors within a closed loop community. It’s my understanding that Salesforce Blockchain has the ability to mint coins and to facilitate smart contracts, these seem to be the two necessary elements to building out this ecosystem as described above. Would love to see someone take a crack at it, looking to you, Salesforce…. 

Want to talk more about Salesforce and Blockchain? Hit me up on the Salesforce Trailblazer Community or Twitter @JustEdelstein.