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Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week – Celebrating 100 posts: The Dreamforce Experience

The last two years have been amazing. It has been a blast sharing tips, tricks, hacks, and ideas with you. We wanted to do something special for our 100th tip, and when I realized it would coincide with my first Dreamforce experience, I knew just the thing! This week’s Tip of the Week is simple: GO TO DREAMFORCE! If you didn’t go this year, let me share with you some of my favorite experiences, and if you did, well, Dreamforce is huge, and I hope you’ll help fill in the gaps in the comments.

Get in the Zone

One of my favorite parts of Dreamforce was wandering around the zones. With booths from Salesforce and vendors, demos galore, and lots of hands-on training, you could spend all of Dreamforce in one section of one zone and have an incredible experience. Being my first year, I didn’t feel satisfied going to just one, so I split my time between the Dev Zone, the Admin Zone, and the Internet of Things Zone.

Dev Zone:

The Dev Zone was a blast. If you’ve never spent your time surrounded by a bunch of nerds all nerding out about the same thing, I highly recommend it. The Dev Zone had loads of awesome demos on interesting applications, and there was a lot of information on working with the new Lightning Experience. Along with attending a few demos on cool use cases and sitting in on a few of the hands-on sessions, I also picked up a couple of awesome books and starter kits, all powered by Trailhead (which is free and you should totally check out). If you missed your opportunity to pick up these great books, you can download everything online here.

Admin Zone:

The Admin Zone is the perfect place for new users and admins to get a feel for Salesforce and begin their journey towards Salesforce Superheroism, but it’s so much more than that too! The zone was filled with enthusiastic and knowledgeable members of the Salesforce team and longtime Salesforce admins ready with a firm handshake, a friendly smile, and loads of great ideas for improving your skills. I’d share some of those with you, but then I wouldn’t be able to share them in our upcoming series of Tips from Dreamforce!

Internet of Things Zone:

The Internet of Things Zone (IoT for short) was probably the coolest of the zones. The Dev Zone and Admin Zones are all about what Salesforce does and how to make it do more, but in the IoT Zone, the focus was on taking Salesforce to the next level. There was a smart grill powered by Heroku, a booth by Automatic, a smart car, a Salesforce connected freezer for biotech labs (probably my favorite), a 5-axis Salesforce connected precision measurement device, and I even got to play with a foosball table connected with Salesforce that allows players to track their stats and rankings. (It didn’t like me – the second I touched the iPad controller, it spat out a Visualforce error the developers had never seen. These sorts of problems followed me the whole week, and I felt bad every time someone’s tech crashed the second I showed up.) It was seriously amazing seeing all the cool things creative developers and makers have accomplished with the platform!

Living the Dream

You’ve not really experienced Dreamforce if you’ve missed the opportunity to hear from Benioff himself, and this year’s big keynote was an awesome opportunity. After a few introductory presentations, the show got underway with a traditional Hawaiian blessing. The conch shell sounded remarkably like a shofar, the ram’s horn traditionally blown around the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, which was appropriate given the timing of the event, just days after the Jewish holiday. As the performers left the stage, we were treated to a fun video highlighting the Lego Dreamforce Experience, #awesome. It got me humming Alanis Morissette to myself (“I’m in the front row, the front row with popcorn”) until the lighting changed, the music keyed up, and the real party started.

Stevie Wonder is a man who needs no introduction, and so he got none but a couple of unexpected chords. To the woman who was rocking out on the big screen during “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”, no shame, I was rocking out pretty hard myself! And when Stevie pulled out the harpejji for Superstition (check out that video, seriously!), even the Hawaiian couple who kicked off the event couldn’t help but dance. Stevie didn’t hold anything back, as he introduced “my friend, Marc Benioff.” The music stopped, and I don’t know who the applause was for, but it went on for miles.

“Why don’t we cancel the keynote and let Stevie keep playing?” were Benioff’s opening remarks, and the echoing cheers it elicited were followed up by “thanks for the vote of confidence!” Benioff spoke of the number of registered attendees (170k+), the success of Salesforce, and its standing compared to its biggest competitors. Then he introduced Laura Esserman of the Athena Breast Health Network who discussed the focus on data-driven healthcare. “Data my kids have when they pick their fantasy teams, I want that for medicine.” It was a powerful address, and the entire room was silent as she spoke.

Following Esserman’s presentation, Salesforce Lightning took center stage, ushered in by Lightning Man (Parker Harris, cofounder of Salesforce) and a shocking boom of thunder. The goal of the ground-up platform rebuild known as the Lightning Experience, Harris explained, was bringing the ease, simplicity, and speed of the Salesforce1 mobile experience to every device, be it smartphone, tablet, or desktop. Components allow new functionality to be dragged and dropped onto the page in a flash. Then he showed us that all it takes to switch to the new Lightning Experience was to click your name -> Switch to Lightning Experience. That’s it, “lightning fast!”

Up next was a presentation on the new SalesforceIQ app (check out this week’s App of the Week for more details), but unfortunately I had to run to my next exciting experience, the Alternative Lending Lunch ‘n Learn.

Party Like it’s 1999

Dreamforce is known for its amazing parties, and I had the opportunity to eat, drink, and be merry while rubbing elbows with some awesome people.

Alternative Lending Lunch ‘n Learn

This year, CloudMyBiz had the opportunity to host an amazing lunch and learn alongside Salesforce for companies in the alternative lending industry. The food was late, but, in my opinion, very tasty, and after dealing with the typical conference room internet problems, it was pretty uneventful. I felt the presentation went well, and everyone seemed to get a lot out of it. My favorite question came from a developer (what can I say, I’m biased) who asked about the most common Salesforce limits and how to work around them. In my experience, formula fields and API limits are the most common to run up against. Getting around formula field limits can be accomplished by moving your formulas into triggers or workflow rules. If you’re dealing with API limitations, you should review your code to identify if it can be refactored to reduce the number of API calls or reach out to your Salesforce Account Executive to purchase additional API calls. Easy.

App Bash

Alcohol was flowing freely as Salesforce team members and partners gathered to schmooze over loud music and louder colleagues. Business cards were flying this way and that, and arguments were equally heated and nerdy. I was caught in the middle of a customer support rep and a sales guy who couldn’t come to common grounds on which was more important to a successful business. I met lots of interesting people from across the Salesforce ecosystem against an absolutely gorgeous backdrop. And while dark beer was lacking, there were some yummy themed drinks tailored to the event, along with some incredible IPAs and wonderful wines. Though when I ordered a Jack and Coke, my bartender was so excited, she threw me a big grin, started head banging to Lady Gaga, and informed me the best way to wake the boisterous musician was to “poke her face.”

Dinner with the CloudMyBiz Team

Despite the amazing parties happening everywhere, I think my favorite was the party of seven at First Crush, where the CloudMyBiz team gathered for dinner one night. It was so nice to spend some time with familiar faces, share war stories over a bottle of wine, and enjoy some incredible food. And to top off the wonderful experience, the staff were amazingly accommodating to everyone, and rolled with it as our party went from three to six to five to seven.

The Concert I Missed

Some of you may have heard about some big concert that happened during Dreamforce. There was these little musicians performing, the Foo Fighters, The Killers, and Gary Clark Jr., who I think are supposed to be something big, but despite my excitement to be a part of THE Dreamforce event, I needed some down time. If you have pictures or illegal recordings, SHARE THEM WITH ME!!!

Finding My Zen

While I was working my way through the crowds, enjoying the keynote, getting amazing demos of the latest that Salesforce has to offer, and trying to lull myself to sleep at night, I was keeping myself centered, as recommended by my amazing colleague, Henrietta, in this year’s pre-Dreamforce post. Some of you might have gone to the mindfulness keynote, but my zen was knitting. I’m still working on my Dreamforce socks, but they’re coming along beautifully. They even gave me the opportunity to connect with a fellow knitter, talk Ravelry, LYS’s, and gourmet yarns, and gave me a little taste of home in the hustle and bustle of Dreamforce.

That’s All Folks!

So that was my first Dreamforce experience. It was long and short, fun and exciting, rousing and relaxing, and most of all, a great opportunity. I learned a lot, got a lot of great ideas, and found some new avenues for investigation and study. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for tips from the Salesforce team, share your experiences in the comments, and I hope to see you at Dreamforce ’16!

-Jared and the Salesforce Guys
Cover image and photo editing by Joelle Diane

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