29 December 2019 - Dreamforce - The sessions

So, what does a person like me choose to attend at Dreamforce? Well, I’ll share you the ones I made a beeline for. As I've mentioned before there are thousands of different sessions that delegates can choose from. You might start wondering how do you even start to tackle that number in order to make your own agenda?

To make sense of the numbers start by thinking about what subject areas are of interest to you, whether it be investigation for a project you're about to start or an area for personal development. 

Here's my personal agenda for the week. There is the agenda builder that Salesforce also supplies and I use that too in order to bookmark and fix my place at particular sessions but the trusty spreadsheet will also detail my personal time commitments. Once completed I print it out and take everywhere with me. I then add to it during the week of the event with items that I want to catch. These could be fun elements such as a reminder where to go to grab some swag or a photo. 

There are key elements to my overall agenda I will consider first. These are; my own speaking sessions, the particular keynotes I want to see and the evening socials. Once those are in firmly in place I then note any talks that I really want to see. These could be ones where a friend is speaking and I go along as their cheerleader or a must attend meeting based on the community groups I'm part of. Surprisingly, after these sessions are added in, there are only a couple of sessions per day that are available to me to fill in. 

At the stage of my career I am personally interested in wider topic areas and trends happening within IT as a whole, in addition to the new features announced. Getting insights into what could affect businesses on a macro level can help shape my career thinking. 

First up, the keynote with Marc Benioff and guests. This was the main keynote of the week and gave a flavour of the key product releases, and customer stories. I watched this in an overflow room, knowing that I could attend other sessions prior, without having to queue for a very long time to get into the main keynote room. 

The new things to note:
  • Trailhead with new AWS content and offering College Credits
  • Trailhead Go! Making learning mobile, currently on Apple devices only
  • Service Cloud CTI improvements with call recording, transcribing, call coaching via insights and suggested best next actions all via Einstein
  • Interactive email for Lead capture, generating 3 times the number of leads than using traditional feedback methods
  • The promotion of Customer 360
  • The range of Analytics tools: Einstein, Datarama and Tableau
  • Einstein Voice with a collaboration with Google, an AI agent to helping make predictions using your Salesforce data 
  • 2 billion customer transactions integrations with Mulesoft 
I then headed to a IT Visionaries session; CIOs 2020 imperatives for digital transformation. The key messages from this were:

  • Digital Transformation is the need to change or to die in one's own market place
  • A business needs to transform, otherwise why would customers continue to buy their product
  • A business should look at their transformation processes and culture of change to impact on how it fundamentally works and sells
  • Internally a business should promote the culture of failing fast, agility and celebrate the biggest mistake of the week moments and learn from them
  • A business should harness the power of technology and look at how it has changed since the adoption of the internet. What will business look like as it embraces AI?
In between these heavier talks I did have some fun, walking around the different zones to get hands on with the new features and closer to the key messages being spoken about. I work within digital transformation so it seemed only right to get a photo of myself with my transformation butterfly colours.

And, if its good enough for Benioff then getting my Trailblazer picture seemed another fun thing to do, even if I did have to queue for a bit to get it done. There were other picture opportunities along the way too, such as the Small Business zone as a leader on the front cover of a magazine, celebrating the 17 development goals (I chose equality), and also getting your headshot taken - which is super handy and I still use mine, taken at the 2017 Dreamforce. 

A session that is always worth bookmarking each year is 'True to the Core' with Parker Harris and co. It's an hour dedicated to talking about new features and a chance for the audience to ask questions and feedback to the leadership. The session is super entertaining as the rapport between the speakers and audience is so engaging. You can tell that Parker enjoys this session, he gets close to the fan boys and girls and can find out what people really want in terms of future functionality.

From the session we saw the following:

  • Idea Exchange revamp using a coin to manage prioritisation.
  • The unveiling of the Steve Mo new Dreamcoat 2.0
  • The Revamping of 'Known Issues'
  • Platform events and serverless coming together into Lightning Experience to make integrations easier
  • Trying to bring future product acquisitions into the main core product easier  such as Tableau

The audience fed back on a few things too, namely:

  • Why are new features (products) often a separate license cost. These are often based dependent on the CPU limits and a cost to Salesforce themselves to run the product and sometimes have to pass on the cost to customers. Some features do eventually fold into the main product over time 
  • The feature 'Modify all data' is a real bug bear with Admins. It allows too much access to certain users. Can this feature be restricted?  
  • The fields that make up the Address on Account and Contact just don't work for today's related systems and data manipulation. Parker confessed these fields were hard coded at the inception of Salesforce and the code sits in many related places. The team will look at making changes to split out. 
Another session close to my heart that also likes to promote new features is the Admin Keynote. With our very own Laura Walker as the voice of God to introduce Parker Harris (he gets everywhere), he then went on, along with the rest of the Admin Evangelist crew to show us the new toys:

  • The Recycle Bin is now available in Lightning Experience - finally
  • Permission set groups and a mute function within
  • Salesforce maps - can search and add customers from maps to schedule calls
  • Einstein Assistant - use voice to create notes and follow up tasks 
  • Scheduled flows
  • Lightning field layout - the beginning of the death of page layouts 
  • Lightning usage app - help adoption, track which profiles are using LEX, most used pages, active users 
  • Optimiser report - now run in Org and display on list views and filter results 

The last session I want to talk about in this blog (otherwise I will be here into the New Year) is the Community Group Leaders breakfast. This session is usually held at the beginning of the week but had to be bumped as the main keynote was scheduled very early this year. With a new change of the guard we were introduced to a new Leadership lineup, all ready to take on this ever growing community.

Their message was simple: Earn, Learn and Connect. With Salesforce individuals can earn a living, they can continue to learn their trade via Trailhead and Salesforce Saturdays and can Connect with each other via the Community. Here's some stats about the Community:

  • 45% of world has a Community group
  • There are 1350 groups globally
  • 94 new leaders onboarded each month by the Community Team
  • 2100 group leaders in total 
  • On average, 11 meetings are held per day 
  • 11,000 attendees that go to meetings globally
If the outputs from Dreamforce haven't suggested this already then, this technology is huge. It has a global presence. It is impacting businesses on how they interact with their customers every day. It is changing people's career directions and it changes how we, as individuals interact with the technology and continue to develop ourselves. Dreamforce is a tech conference and so much more...


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