As the new year begins, I’m finally getting a few minutes to reflect on Dreamforce 2017. It was my 4th Dreamforce with my 4th different company, after having made a few positive career moves in the last few years, and my first Dreamforce since my inaugural one that I wasn’t presenting at. It was also the first Dreamforce that I had experienced that didn’t seem to have some sort of ecosystem altering announcement (Wave/Analytics Cloud in 2014, IoT in 2015, Einstein in 2016). Despite the lack of a major announcement, Dreamforce 2017 was anything but dull, as there were still a ton of exciting features being shared and teased that I’m looking forward to!
My Dreamforce began with the Women’s Network Dinner. If you didn’t get the chance to attend this year, I highly recommend it for next year. It was a great opportunity to hear from some impressive women that have accomplished a tremendous amount in their careers! They shared life lessons that can everyone can learn from regardless of your gender or background. My particular favorite was a quote from Amy Weaver, Salesforce’s President of Legal and General Counsel.
After being greeted by some friendly mascots, I started checking out all the demos and interactive exhibits in Moscone West, including a pretty impressive IoT enabled city built by LEGO! I also swung by a session on my new favorite IDE, Illuminated Cloud!
I also finally got the opportunity to meet the man himself, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff!
Speaking of Marc, while usually his keynote takes place on the second day, I thought it was a welcome change to move it to the first day. I personally like hearing new products get announced and explained to get some context before checking out their respective demos.
One of the new product announcements was something I’d been hoping to see for a while, myTrailhead!
Salesforce is essentially making Trailhead available to your company to personally brand and create learning modules for! I believe that Trailhead and gamification of learning are part of what make working with Salesforce so incredible, and if I can now customize a gamified platform to meet my company’s needs, I can just picture the endless possibilities! While this feature won’t be available until sometime later in 2018 and will come with an (in my opinion fully justified) additional cost, I’m excited about the possibilities for it. This will make training my users SO much easier and hopefully reduce a ton of the support tickets that my team and I receive on a regular basis.
This was actually just the first of the “my” series of products announced during the Keynote. myEinstein (customized AI), myLightning (custom UI branding), mySalesforce (customized app for your company), and myIoT were also discussed.
The other announcement that got me excited was Salesforce’s partnership with Google. As an employee of Google and an active participant in the Salesforce ecosystem, it makes me incredibly happy to see my two favorite tech companies working so well together! It also means that Salesforce is going to be getting deeper integration with Google products such as Gmail, Calendar, and gSuite (Docs, Sheets, Slides) so I’ll definitely be following this closely in 2018!
My second day started off with a pretty cool fireside chat with former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama! She talked about how important education is for everyone and also shared some stories about people she met all over the country while her family was in the White House and how even though many people disagreed with her, they were all trying to do their best and still had something to offer. In today’s climate, I think it is more important now than ever to listen to as many viewpoints as we can, even if we don’t agree with them all.
After seeing Michelle Obama, I was able to get a great seat for the Einstein Keynote in the same room. One of the first pieces of info they shared was that 80% of all records in Salesforce are created in Custom Objects. As customizable as the Salesforce Platform is, it seemed like a believable stat to me. They followed this up by going in depth on myEinstein, which will allow Salesforce admins and developers to take advantage of Einstein AI on their custom objects! In particular, you can start making predictions on your custom records based on fields that you specify. It comes at an additional cost but you can play around with it for free today on Trailhead!
They also shared something they’re playing with regarding summarizing text. I haven’t had the chance to experiment with Einstein personally yet outside of Trailhead, but I’m very excited with the direction that it’s going!
After Einstein, I went to one of my favorite sessions at Dreamforce, the Developer keynote. While there weren’t any major announcements here, I was definitely excited to hear that Lightning Components can now be dynamically displayed in Lightning Pages. Lightning Base Components also continue to get more powerful (similar to Visualforce apex tags, think apex:form, apex:inputField, etc). As someone who is trying to get more into Lightning Component development, I’m extremely encouraged that Salesforce continues to make it easier to make the transition.
They also introduced the capability of being able to style Visualforce pages like the Lightning UI by simply adding lightningStylesheets=”true” to the apex:page tag. Between that and the apex:slds tag that automatically imports the Lightning Design System without needing a static resource, Salesforce once again continues to make it easier and easier for developers to make the switch to Lightning Experience.
If you’re interested in checking all the entire keynote and the technology discussed, there’s a great Trailmix for you!
After the Developer Keynote, it was time for the first ever Trailhead keynote! Over the last couple years, Trailhead has exploded to note only encompass over 300 badges, serve as the theme for all of Dreamforce and TrailheaDX, but has turned the concept of “the Trailblazer” into a central message for Salesforce as they continue their massive growth.
The center of that message, is the platform that started it all, Trailhead. The Keynote kicked off by talking about that very growth. Over 4 MILLION badges had been earned on Trailhead as of Dreamforce. Trailhead also announced a bunch of new features including Trailmixes, which allows you to combine your favorite modules together and send them to others, as well as the long awaited Account Merge, to ensure that you never lose your progress! My favorite feature was the vanity URL though, which makes it easy to show off your Trailhead progress on your resume or social media. Check mine out! https://trailhead.salesforce.com/en/me/adammvp
We then got a demo of the very exciting myTrailhead, which lets you create your own personalized Trailhead modules that you can use at your company!
The last major component may be in my opinion, the most important one. I’ve always believed that addition to the great technology, Salesforce’s advantage has always been their community, the people that are out there to help out out of the goodness of their hearts. The Trailhead team has capitalized on that industry advantage by formally introducing the key that has helped build Trailhead into what it is, Trailheart.
Trailheart is the motor that makes the Trailhead engine run so smoothly and sweetly. By focusing on making learning into a conversation that EVERYONE can participate in, Salesforce has an instant competitive advantage that everyone else is just playing catch-up on. When myTrailhead becomes Generally Available, companies would greatly benefit by trying to capture this concept if they want their internal Trailhead modules to be nearly as successful as the Salesforce developed ones.
Trailhead is continuing to grow and develop new features. The one that is most interesting to me, is the concept of earning credentials on the Trailhead platform. We’ve already seen some of this come to fruition with Superbadges now comprising the entirety of the Platform Developer II technical exam. As someone who is also looking to increase my credentials in my quest of continuing my learning, I’ll be keeping a close eye on this space.
Success Cloud Keynote
I started off Day 3 by checking out Salesforce’s newest Cloud, the Success Cloud! This essentially entails the different approaches Salesforce can take to help you as a customer achieve success. It can range from a light touch (such as taking advantage of Trailhead and the Trailblazer community) to an in depth analysis (using pre-built accelerators and Salesforce internal architects).
We heard some different customer stories and got some nice flair as well with a special appearance by Despacito singer Luis Fonzi and some lucky winners who got the chance to meet Star Wars stars Mark Hammill and Billie Lourd!
True to the Core
After stopping to see my team at YouTube present on how we moved to Lightning, I headed over to True to the Core.
True to the Core is one of my favorite sessions every year, as we get the chance to hear directly from the Product Managers and ask them and Parker Harris questions on the future of the platform. They’re usually brutally honest and it is refreshing to hear what they have to say outside of the marketing and flashy lights.
As always, there were some pretty cool things coming down the pipeline, and my favorite was probably the concept of dynamic page layouts, both at the lightning component and the field level. If you’re interested in a deeper dive, check out the Salesforce Weekly recap!
One of the most exciting keynotes at Dreamforce, and the last major session I attended, was the Admin Keynote!
My favorite announcements were that we’ll soon no longer be landing on Recently Used records on an Object tab, Lightning will have text wrapping in list views, and there is a new Lightning Report Builder for building reports!
We also saw some more demos of the myLightning custom branding capabilities, Einstein prediction builder, dynamic Lightning components, and Platform Events launching a process in Process Builder.
My recap doesn’t begin to capture the atmosphere though. The #AwesomeAdmin community is like no other and I highly recommend you attend this keynote yourself next year! Admins are tremendously passionate about the Salesforce Platform and as long as Salesforce continues to emphasize their low code capabilities, I’ll continue being a firm believer that anyone can be a Salesforce master!
There was a custom made Admin Trailmix for the keynote as well that you can check out!
On the final day of Dreamforce 2017, I attended an Analytics workshop in the morning and focused on having fun. My main event was the Lip Sync battle that I attended and participated in. Since I sing in the shower anyway, I figured it would be fun to come out of my shell a little bit and do some lip-syncing in public.
People seemed to like my rendition of Taylor Swift and I was off to the finals!
For the final round, I decided to do a classic I grew up with from the Backstreet Boys.
People seemed to enjoy this as well and I got a cool trophy! I had a lot of fun and will most likely be back to defend my title next year!
As always, I got to say hi to my Ohana as well! Seeing all these fellow Salesforce enthusiasts is one of my favorite parts of Dreamforce every year!
Thoughts for next year
I spent most of my time at keynotes this year, and while that was helpful, I missed out on some of the more in depth sessions to really dive into topics I’d want to learn about. For those planning for Dreamforce 2018, my suggestion would be to try to pick at least a couple sessions to go to on topics you really want to find out more about. In the mean time, check out the sessions from 2017 here!
The other thing I noticed was similar to previous years, I contracted the “Dreamflu” and was sick for a few days after Dreamforce. I also noticed that for the 3rd in a row, I barely touched the free hand sanitizer that Salesforce provided with the backpack. My suggestion would be to take full advantage of this under-appreciated perk and keep yourself healthy!
Overall at Dreamforce 2017, while there was no paradigm shifting announcement, I liked that there was still a strong focus on improving the core of the platform. The Salesforce ecosystem is stronger than ever and looks to continue growing into 2018 and beyond. The platform continues to be more customizable than ever and I’m looking forward to AI continuing to allow people to focus on more implementations and creating things as Einstein figures out some of the org’s problems and pain points. Dreamforce 2018 is coming up at the end of September and will be excited to see everything new that Salesforce continues to create!