5 Career-Changing Takeaways from Dreamforce 2015

trailhead-bannerMy first Dreamforce was overwhelming to say the least, and I imagine even Dreamforce veterans felt the same.

Dreamforce 2015, as it is every increasing year, was the biggest ever, with more than 170,000 registrants and 2,600-plus customer/partner speakers. As I expected, the keynotes were motivating and inspiring, the sessions were filled with eye-opening insights and the city was completely awesome.

After having a little more than a week to gather my thoughts around this amazing experience, I’d like to reflect on a few of the biggest takeaways from this years Dreamforce.

salesforce-1Lightning is paving the way forward.
As anticipated with the announcement of the Lightning Experience a couple of weeks prior to Dreamforce 2015, there was a big focus on the general new experience and Lightning in general. One of the best demos we all saw was with Salesforce founders Marc Benioff and Parker Harris at the main keynote. They gave us a user experience demonstration and showed off some of the best new features, including the redesigned home page and how easy it is to add components built on Lightning. Although the Lightning Experience is going to be available in these coming weeks through Winter ’16, it is widely regarded to be a work in progress due to a few limitations. Regardless, Lightning is the future of Salesforce.

Trailhead is the platform for learning.
Although Trailhead has been around for just under a year, it is still somewhat unknown among the wider Salesforce audience. Dreamforce completely changed that. For all the admins and developers starting out on the Salesforce platform, Trailhead is a way for them to understand how everything fits together. Various trails are designed to give you information on particular subjects like Security, Automation and Lightning. Challenges feature at the end that can test your developer organization against a certain criteria to see if you have passed the trial.

Trailhead was featured majorly in the Developer/Admin Zones at Dreamforce, allowing you to complete trails to win prizes. One big take-home from Dreamforce is that Trailhead is going onto bigger and better things including more admin, developer and even user trails. Prepare to see Trailhead explode.

This is the year of the admin.
Admins have always been a key part of the Salesforce ecosystem, from being internal evangelists and promoting adoption throughout their businesses to running the day-to-day platform. But as Parker Harris put it in the Admin Keynote, “This is the year of the admin.” With the introduction of the Admin Zone and keynote last year, it came back bigger and better, especially the admin keynote, which upgraded from the Hilton to Moscone West with 5,000-plus attendees at Dreamforce 2015.

The keynote explained just how important admins are. At the heart, they are business analysts, project managers, consultants and developers, a lot more than the name might give away.  VP of Admin Marketing Sarah Franklin gave us an insight into three admin stories that highlighted just how important they are and how far they can go. For me though, the highlight was seeing more of the Lightning experience led by Mike Gerhodlt, Admin Evangelist. This section of the keynote really shed light on how important all admins are during this phase of crossing over to Lightning.

Product clouds are taking the industry by storm.
Salesforce wasn’t short of product announcements this year, and they used the main keynote as the perfect platform to show them off.  One of the most impressive announcements was the Internet of Things (IoT) Cloud. IoT is a technology taking the cloud industry by storm, and Salesforce developed a product to harness the huge amount of data collected by all the devices out there. We heard specifically from Microsoft about how they were making the IoT Cloud work for Office365 and showed the amazing things you can do with the data.

Just over a year ago, Salesforce bought RelateIQ. Described as “Siri for business,” it provides insights into your CRM and email data to suggest ways to progress deals. Salesforce have rebranded and integrated RelateIQ and bring you SalesforceIQ. This intelligent bit of software has been designed as a stand-alone cloud app, a phone app, browser extension and plugin for Sales Cloud.  I’m looking forward to seeing the intelligence this can bring to Salesforce users.

We heard of some of the industry clouds that Salesforce is releasing a few weeks prior to Dreamforce (Financial & Health Cloud), but not much information has been released about them.  These industry clouds were shown off in full force in the Cloud Expos, and I was lucky to sneak a couple of demos. Purpose built “clouds” other than Service, Sales & Marketing Clouds is a smart move, and Salesforce is on to something here.

industry clouds

Salesforce shows no signs of stopping.
With the amount of people going to Dreamforce each year, the new advancements in the product and the enthusiasm from everyone involved, Salesforce is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. During the main keynote, Marc Benioff confidentially said that Salesforce WILL be the 4th largest software company in the world by 2016, and I don’t think anyone doubts him.  One of the reasons I believe Salesforce is so successful and is going to continue to be so is because of the amazing product and the way they treat their community. Salesforce has an army of advocates and evangelists that know the product inside out and recognize that it can transform businesses that implement it. I’m confident this is true, and it really does show the power of what Salesforce can and will achieve.

Ben McCarthy is a certified Salesforce admin and developer. He writes the popular Salesforce Blog, Salesforce Ben. Ben has a wealth of experience in the Salesforce ecosystem as a Business Analyst, Head of CRM and Certified Sales Cloud consultant.

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