24 December 2019 - Dreamforce - my highlights


Where did the time disappear to? I’ve decided to write 3 blogs about this year’s Dreamforce. 
The first will be about ‘how I spent my week’ personal diary. Good for anyone who’s new to DF as it gives an idea on what the week is about. The second one I will share the sessions I attended and their outputs. The third will be a deeper dive into some content and the main takeaway messages I took this year. 

So, here’s the first - the personal bit. 

Let me tell you about my Dreamforce trip. It was Salesforce’s 20th year and they promised it to be the best ever. They didn’t disappoint. 

Prior to the trip I was invited onto the Innovation Tour. A select group of individuals from different customers within UK&I to stay in the same hotel for networking purposes and have their Dreamforce start earlier. 

Having arrived on Saturday evening, to drag my jet lagged self through customs control, (always a joy, never a chore), I was grateful to reach my rather comfortable hotel room and made use of the hotel’s swimming pool and hot tub, as you do.


But first, some power tourism. I was all set for Sunday morning where a group of us met in Sears for a proper American breakfast. 


All fuelled up it was time for a road trip. 2 cars, The legendary Route 1 to drive and some large Redwood trees to explore. I do like to catch some sights whenever I’m in a location. Suffice to say, a brilliant day had with some excellent company and some rather aspirational manoeuvres to return the car just in the nick of time to the hire place. The music from 'Mission Impossible' will never be listened to quite the same again. Phew!


Sunday evening was when my official Dreamforce began, with a welcome drinks reception for the UK&I Innovation Tour guests and an opportunity to meet who else had been invited. 

As with all Dreamforce’s your days have a packed agenda with early starts and late finishes. Eating and sleeping are for those who carefully plan their days! It's worth making a proper plan of your time. I resort to my trusty spreadsheet to remind me where I need to be, when. 

Monday 07.30 and the Innovation Tour group were on a coach, heading into the Napa Valley for a day of presentations. 2 content rich talks delivered firstly by Matt Egol, Partner of PWC, followed by Dr Linda Hill, a Professor of Harvard. 

I actually want to go into more depth about some of the content I consumed over the course of Dreamforce so I’ll put this into the third blog of this series.

Once the presentations were over the group was treated to lunch followed by wine and chocolate tasting. Well, when one is in Napa...


Fast forward to Monday evening the policy for Dreamforce party hopping began, starting off with a speaker appreciation gathering in Salesforce Tower followed by the Ladies Be Architects party. It’s good to see this movement continuously grow and be supported. 

Tuesday saw the official start to the next 3.5 days of conference crazy, kicking off with the Benioff’s Keynote. The session highlighted all the key new features being released, interspersed with customer stories and finishing with a flourish by introducing Ayesha Keyes to belt out a couple of songs. 


Keynote completed the rest of day was mine to explore Dreamforce campus and all its zones. Dreamforce is huge and you’ll do well to visit all the zones that are put on, let alone take value from your time in them. It’s best to focus on the spaces that interest you, whether that be research into a work project or expanding your personal learning. 

The zones usually close around 18.00, enough time to return to your hotel, if located nearby, drop your stuff and head straight back out to the evening’s parties. 

Tuesday night hosted the UK&I party at the Hibernian Bank, now a fancy bar. It was lovely to catch up with familiar faces from the community. 


Wednesday was my speaking day and it kicked off with a panel breakout session in Moscone West “All about AppExchange”. Honoured to be asked to share my experience on my approach to selecting Apps to download and the ones I’ve previously used in my Orgs. 


In the afternoon I volunteered to host a Circles of Success session all about "Declutter your Org" which was mainly about the Optimizer Report which I think is a super handy tool. My table enjoyed a lively conversation where we shared our own top tips in addition to the content provided. Its worth catching these sessions as you can get first hand feedback on experience from other ecosystem users. 

Wednesday evening was Dreamfest. Hosted again at Oracle Park (funny that co-CEO Keith Block couldn't mention its name), a handy walking distance from Moscone. On the bill was first up, Beck, followed by a group that I grew up with, Fleetwood Mac. It's not often that conference trips will give you an opportunity to see your music heros. 


It was an early start for me on Thursday morning as I headed down for a breakfast meeting for the Community Group Leaders. A great chance to network with other leaders and share their pains and top tips for group management. 

Then a dash over to another overspill room to grab my place to watch 'the interview of Dreamforce', Benioff with President Obama. As a British person, I was just as excited to hear from Obama as a US citizen. Its just a shame our current bunch of political heads aren't as appealing.


The afternoon was available to me to catch up on the sessions that I had planned in my agenda, including a mindfulness session with the Monastics. The last session of the day was the Admin Keynote, a must attend for all keen Admins and this year had an added bonus with our Laura Walker as the voice of God to introduce Parker Harris, CTO.


Sessions completed for the day it was off to the after parties. The first one to attend was the Salesforce Saturday party, hosted by Steph Herrera at Computer Futures. The party had a guest panel, followed by speaker Rakia Finley, who's talk included a rather intensive CV exercise with your arms. Serious stuff with a meaningful message connected. 

Once the arms had some blood returned to them it was time to move onto the next party, this time hosted by Quip at the August Hall. Their star turn was the Grammy Award winner Janelle Monae. Her set was super slick. We stood right at the front to watch the show and right at the end she asked us all to crouch down as low as we could go. Janelle came off the stage and crawled over/amongst us. All a bit strange! Good night though!


Friday morning, the final stretch of the conference. The last chance to grab some swag and squeeze it into your case. My first session was to watch Laura Walker being interviewed by Mike Gerholdt in Moscone West and then headed over to Salesforce West for a special gathering of conference leaders to network and share best practice. Here's the London's Calling team, with Todd in spirit (via iPad) together with the Community Team.


Afterwards, and with some time to kill before my taxi to the airport some of us were able to visit the Ohana floor in Salesforce Tower. It was nice to revisit the location after being one of the first customers to see the space last year when it first opened. This time, the place was heaving with other Trailblazers. A very different experience. 


Later, a few of us took a stroll around the Transit Park. It was closed during last year's Dreamforce so this was the first opportunity to walk around and soak up a little bit of oasis surrounded by the city sights. For a beautiful city, there aren't many little green spots about, relying more on the larger parks to the west and north. 


With a dirty burger and a swift drink consumed, it was time to say goodbye and safe travels to the gang and grab a taxi homeward bound. Last year I spent 2 weeks in the city for work and Dreamforce. It felt strange to see my friends leave for home, knowing that I was staying for more days afterwards. This year I decided to leave the evening the conference finished. It felt good to go home. I'd had an amazing time. I had learnt loads, content that I will share in future blogs. I had spent time with friends and made new ones. I helped to make someone's dreams come true - which was really special to me. Watching them and others experience Dreamforce for the first time is quite magical. You see in their faces as they start to comprehend the sheer scale of this event. But its more than that, it the fact that surrounded by 170,000 like-minded people you aren't alone and can share the fascination you have for this little blue cloud and all the intrinsic elements that surrounds it that has brought us all together. It's truly powerful and I'm so grateful to be part of it. 

I'll see you next year then...

Comments

  1. Thanks, Amanda. As always one gets the feeling of being there with you and witnessing the events you described as they were unfolding. Thanks again

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