Dreamforce '15: Watch Out for the Lightning on the Trail(head)
As another exciting and action-packed Dreamforce wrapped up, Salesforce continued to raise the bar for this event. There were so many exciting new things that Salesforce introduced and focused on during this event, and many great highlights – Salesforce’s commitment to the 1+1+1 program, supporting programs like the Wounded Warrior Project among others. However, through all of the events, keynotes, sessions, and zones that attendees participated in, there were two things that stood out to me: the Salesforce Lightning Platform and Trailhead.

Salesforce’s development team has been busy at work since Lightning was first introduced at last year’s conference. The Lightning Platform, which is made up of several different features, is meant to be the next generation framework that customers and partners will build within the Salesforce ecosystem. It is built around a new mobile-first user experience (Salesforce1 Mobile Platform, Lightning Experience, Lightning Components) that emphasize speed and agility when building and deploying enterprise-level apps (with Lightning App Builder, Lightning Connect). This new experience – which is already available on the Salesforce1 Mobile Platform – is being rolled out to the desktop version of the Sales Cloud platform, Salesforce’s flagship product. As part of the new Winter ’16 release, customers will have the ability to enable this new experience for their Sales team, including great features like the the all-new intelligent Home page with Account Insights and Actions, the all-new Opportunity Workspace with Sales Process visualization and key coaching details, and the all-new Opportunity Board with click-and-drag actions for your entire Sales Pipeline. These features aim to increase productivity of Sales Reps by providing more insightful information through less clicks within the application.

While this new user experience roll-out is focused on the Sales Cloud product, many of the sessions at Dreamforce showcased (insert joke about Salesforce’s famous Safe Harbor statement here) this new user experience across the entire platform, including Service Cloud, Community Cloud, and Marketing Cloud. As Salesforce mentions in its Lightning Experience materials, this new user experience will be rolled out over time, providing customers and partners the time to appropriately address this new change from “Salesforce Classic,” and their product roadmaps follow suit. And for those customers who choose to embrace this new, bold experience, they can enable this within their organization with the Winter ’16 release. But how will they do so? The answer: use Trailhead.

The other focus of Dreamforce was incorporating Salesforce’s new online training platform, Trailhead, throughout the entire conference – especially in the amazing DevZone and Admin Lounge. These two incredible hands-on focused areas of the conference were all appropriately themed-out to Trailhead, with specially designed activities for users to learn more about Salesforce (and qualify for some amazing prizes). As mentioned, Trailhead is Salesforce’s online hands-on learning platform that walks users through a (constantly growing) number of guided exercises – or trails – that is tracked by connecting a free Developer instance of Salesforce to the Trailhead site. This includes learning more about how to enable the all-new Lightning Experience and key considerations when doing so. Using gamification to drive excitement and interest, each set of trails offers its own badge upon completion. This platform is a game-changer in building knowledgeable Salesforce users, which can be found here: http://developer.force.com/trailhead.

Salesforce masterfully integrated these two landmark milestones throughout the Dreamforce experience, and has positioned Salesforce to continue its meteoric rise as the leading cloud-computing platform in the industry. The next year promises to showcase the continued commitment to innovation in this industry, building out the vision of Marc Benioff through the Lightning and Trailhead learning platforms. Now that Dreamforce ’15 is over, there is only one immediate question to ask: Is it October 2016 yet?

By: Mike Manfredo, principal on the customer experience team - mmanfredo@westmonroepartners.com

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