A couple of weeks ago, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the TrailheaDX conference in San Francisco. As someone who is still quite new to the Salesforce community, this opportunity was extremely exciting, slightly intimidating, and highly motivating.
When I arrived and checked in at the conference hall, I took the escalator up to the second floor where the majority of the conference was happening. When I got to the top, I was absolutely amazed—what I saw was not at all what I had pictured a typical conference to look like. Everything was outdoorsy, camp-themed, from the “rangers” there directing the conference to the different “fireside” stations where you could sit in a camper chair while you listen to a presentation. In every direction there was something going on, whether it be an activity or a speaker. As someone who is not a developer, this was exciting to see. I had gone in a bit concerned that there wouldn’t be many things there for me that I could reasonably relate to or learn from. This was not the case at all, and realizing that I didn’t have to know how to code or know everything about Salesforce to benefit from the conference erased any intimidation I had initially felt.
Over the course of the two days, I attended all of the keynote speakers in the larger conference room. One of the keynote presentations that stood out to me the most was about equality in the workplace. The panel consisted of a diverse group of people who all shared negative or difficult experiences they have had in the workplace based on their gender identity, race, and/or sexual orientation. Despite any discrimination or social injustice they had faced, these people worked incredibly hard to further their now highly successful careers while at the same time becoming admirable advocates and social pioneers for an equal and comfortable workplace.
In between the keynote presentations, I attended a couple of the more technical-oriented presentations on the main floor, talked to a few people at various stations, and participated in a few of the interactive demos that were set up to show what kinds of innovative things Salesforce is doing with its technology. At first I felt like I might be bothering people by asking so many questions about their demo stations or what their careers were like, but everyone was very willing to include me in their discussions and answer many of my curiosities. One man I met in line for a virtual reality demo sparked a conversation with me about his career path within the production company he worked for and how he, like me, studied marketing and started out in a marketing role which shifted into learning more Salesforce and becoming an experienced admin. The VR demo itself was very cool, and as it was my first time experiencing VR, it definitely left a lasting impression. The objective of the game was to shoot badges as you float through a river in a canoe. Though my aim was kind of terrible, resulting in a very sad and unmentionable final score despite years of tennis practice, the graphics were astonishing and inspired me to think less linear about what Salesforce does and can do in the future.
One of the hot topics at the conference that peaked my interest was all of the excitement surrounding Einstein and the benefits of AI integration with Salesforce. Einstein Image Classification was especially fascinating to learn about. One of the demos that resonated was when a speaker pretended to be a customer in need of more gear in order to successfully venture onto their camping trip. The speaker/“customer” asked the rep what kind of gear they needed to buy via a chat pop up, and the rep’s automated response asked for a list of names or a picture of what items the customer already owned. The customer sent a picture of themselves with all of their gear. The AI rep responded, successfully identifying all of the gear in the photo and then taking it to the next step by offering suggestions of what else the customer may need to bring with them. This demo furthered my understanding of the ways in which Salesforce can be used to increase sales and capitalize on the benefits of automated customer service. It really illuminated how Salesforce AI can meet the consumer convenience needs everyone experiences.
There was a constant buzz about Lightning at the conference as well. I was curious about developer insights regarding Lightning, so I asked a few people about their experiences with it and sat in on a developer Q&A keynote because I figured some questions there would pop up about the new platform. The overall sentiment was that Lightning was definitely an adjustment at first but clearly a step in the right direction for what Salesforce needs to be doing in the next few years. Most people communicated that they were pleased to describe Salesforce’s migration towards Lightning as a gradual change with many powerful benefits, versus an immediately forced conversion. Some questions asked during the Q&A had an air of adversity to the new platform, as to be expected when it comes to any sort of change. The Salesforce developers’ responded to these types of questions by reminding everyone that Lightning is not perfect yet, and that they are very open to feedback or suggestions that can continue to improve the platform. The discussions around Lightning particularly intrigued me; as I continue to dive deeper into learning Salesforce, I intend on not only learning Classic but building my skillset in Lightning as well.
Though my experience at the conference was most likely much different than that of those more involved in the Salesforce community, to me it was very eye-opening in an opportunistic way. From networking with those I spoke with to just sitting in and listening to the array of speakers, I learned so much and had fun at the same time. No matter what level you are or how experienced you are with Salesforce, this is a wonderful conference to attend.