5 Things You May Not Know About Akoonu for Pipeline Reviews

For sales teams, success depends on the pipeline and winning deals.  But managing the sales pipeline today is full of frustrations.  Poor visibility, bad data, and insufficient reporting mean that pipeline reviews are inefficient at best, and more typically frustrating and unsatisfying experiences for everyone.  Basic questions like “What has changed?” or “What deals are going to close?” are left incomplete or unanswered.

Akoonu for Pipeline Reviews, a native app in Salesforce, is game changing for pipeline reviews. It gives sales reps, managers and executives quick access to powerful views in order to inspect and manage the pipeline they own or oversee. They can stop the guesswork, stop the spreadsheets and custom reporting, stop the endless clicking, and focus on winning.

Here are 5 things you may not know about Akoonu for Pipeline Reviews:

1. Immediately know what has changed

The first question in most Pipeline Review meetings is “What’s Changed?” , which is surprisingly hard for most teams to answer!  The Pipeline Flow view in Akoonu is built to clearly answer this question.  It is the perfect starting point for any sales manager or executive to dig into the pipeline.
In this view, the deal changes are analyzed for a specific time.  For example, it will summarize how the Current Quarter’s deals have changed in the last 7 days.   The results are presented in two easy to digest ways: 1) a flow chart depicts new deals, wins, losses, pushes, pulls and value changes, and 2) a waterfall chart clearly illustrates how these changes impacted the overall pipeline number.

2. “Cross Object” Filters and Groupings 

Sales Ops could spend all of their time creating custom reports, but never fully satisfy the needs of how sales management would like to view their pipeline.  Things change, different people want to look at things in different ways.  Two powerful capabilities in Akoonu allow users to focus on exactly what opportunities they want to review, eliminating the endless streams of custom reporting requests.

First, users can add any number of filters to their views.  They can select a part of their team hierarchy, and can include filters on any opportunity field, any field from related objects (like the Account or Owner), and even any Product field. For advanced users, Custom Logic can be applied to craft the perfect view.

Second, users can choose how to group and summarize deals in the List View.  Again, users have the choice of grouping on any Opportunity field, any field on related objects, or any Product fields.  Sub-totals summarize the pipeline value for each group, and users can use “nested groupings” and layer subtotals to an unlimited depth.

3. Support your Sales Process with embedded components and configurable Actions

One of the primary objectives of pipeline review meetings is to evaluate the status of each opportunity, guide and coach reps to the next appropriate action, and enforce compliance of the company’s sales process.  

Akoonu for Pipeline Reviews can be customized to deeply support any sales process, be it a variation of industry standards like BANT or MEDDIC, or something completely homegrown.  This is enabled through the use of embedded UI components.  Organizations can create new Lightning Components, or use existing ones, directly in the Akoonu user interface creating a seamless, guided experience for sales reps and managers.  

Additionally, user Actions can be created to trigger Lightning Flows, Lightning Components, record edits, and more to put the reps’ key activities directly in the app.

4.  Guided Setup and Configuration App

Akoonu for Pipeline Reviews is highly configurable, and comes with a fully featured setup and configuration app for system administrators.  Every setting and option are available in this UI with contextual help content, eliminating the confusion and errors of directly editing configuration metadata.

Starting with a “Click to Configure” launching point, organizations can be fully configured in no time.  

5.  Data Security:  Data never leaves the Salesforce Platform

Most tools that provide sophisticated analysis of Salesforce data work “off platform”, exporting or syncing data to outside systems and applications to do complex analysis.  Not Akoonu.  Akoonu for Pipeline Reviews works in Salesforce, in real-time, with algorithms specifically built to perform and scale within the limitations and restrictions of being native in the Salesforce platform.  

Customer data stays locked down, in-place, within Salesforce’s secure Cloud, and Akoonu users don’t experience any of the data-syncing headaches and Info Sec concerns typical when connecting to outside applications.

Want to see Akoonu for Pipeline Reviews in action?  Both a Test Drive and a 30 day trial are available from the Salesforce AppExchange listing.

It’s All About Perspective

I’ve always thought that I was the kind of person who could empathize with those in different situations and from different backgrounds the me. I was raised in an upper middle class, predominantly white neighborhood, by 2 parents with 1 sibling. I had a nice childhood.

I never had to wonder where my next meal was coming from. I never had to worry about being too cold or too hot. My family could afford everything we needed, and much of what we wanted.

Growing up, my friends and classmates, as well as most of the population surrounding me, all looked like me. It wasn’t until I was in college that I started to experience the true diversity of the human race.

There were so many different colors of people, in both the literal sense and the figurative sense. I saw their struggles for attention. I saw their struggles to stay fed and warm. I saw their struggles to move around freely in a society that seemed to not care about almost anyone who’s upbringing and background was different.

In my eyes, we were all human. We all deserved our space on earth, and we all deserved the opportunity for a healthy and happy life – based on how ever we defined that for ourselves.

Once in college, I quickly made friends who didn’t look like me. Building relationships just came easy for me.

After graduating, I entered the world of the working people – I had good jobs at good companies. I had friends, food on the table whenever I wanted it, and a roof over my head. I could come and go as I pleased, without any real challenges.

Life was good.

Last weekend, I had an accident. It was caused by my own carelessness, I was trying to do something on my own that I really should have had help with. But I just wanted it done, so I set out to do it on my own.

I was making progress towards my goal, moving about the room, from ladder to ladder. And then, bam! I missed a rung on the ladder and went catching to the floor about 4 feet below where my feet once were planted.

My hip struck the floor first, and within a nano second, I broke the rest of my fall with my arm.

Things hurt.

I laid there on the floor of our new shed for a minute or two, covered by the batt of insulation that came down on top of me.

I stood up. I walked around the room a bit. Nothing really hurt too bad, so I grabbed the insulation and the heavy duty stapler again and started to climb the ladder. As I lifted the insulation over my head, I discovered more pain. I could no longer do what I wanted to do. It hurt too much.

And yet, I chose not to seek medical attention because I figured if something was broken, it would hurt a lot worse than it was.

Over the next 4 days, the visible signs of the injuries grew. The bruising got larger, and more ugly by the hour. The pain in my hip was tolerable, but the pain in my shoulder was past the point where I could stand it without medication. Sleeping comfortably didn’t exist anymore. It became difficult to lift a glass of water or hold a fork full of food in my right hand. (It has always been a little difficult to do that in my left hand, as my right hand is the dominant one.)

I quickly began to realize just how difficult life must be for those with visible or invisible physical challenges.

I called my primary care provider who sent me to get X-rays done of my hip and shoulder. The X-rays showed a severe bruising of my hip and an avulsion fracture of the greater tuberosity in my shoulder. Huh? What? So that means the part of my shoulder where the tendons connect my rotator cuff to my shoulder muscles was fractured. Cracked.

See that gap inside the red circle? Yeah – that’s not supposed to be there. Of course for a fractured shoulder the treatment is to immobilize it. So now I have to wear a sling and an abductor pillow for at least 21 days to help restrict the movement of my shoulder, in hopes it will heal on its own. And if it doesn’t, surgery is likely in my future.

Doesn’t that look comfortable? And did I mention the Orthopedic doctor said I should wear it 24/7 except when I’m taking a shower?

I’m normally a stomach sleeper, with my right arm folded and up underneath my head. There’s no way I would be able to sleep like that with this sling on. Needless to say, I haven’t been sleeping as good or as much as I normally do due to the discomfort, no, due to the pain and agony in both my shoulder and my hip.

Enough about me and my injury. None of that is really the point of this post.

What I quickly discovered was that many of the things I needed to do on a daily basis were much more difficult than then were just a few days earlier. As I mentioned earlier, what were once simple tasks – changing clothes, using the rest room, eating, getting in and out of a vehicle – were no longer simple.

I had to have help fastening my pants because I couldn’t button them or close the zipper with just my left hand. Eating a meal took much longer than before, and if the food needed cut into bites & that couldn’t be done with just a fork, yep, I needed help with that too.

I discovered quickly that I had taken for granted the fact that I could so these simple things…and now I couldn’t, without help or without significant pain and moving the shoulder that was supposed to stay immobilized.

I know plenty of people who have different levels of physical abilities. Some who have been forced to deal with that their entire life, and others that began more recently as a result of an accident or illness. And now I was along the population of those differently abled.

I now have a new appreciation for being able to take care of myself. And I have a new appreciation for those who struggle with disabilities, whether visible or invisible, every single moment of their lives.

I’ve gained a new level of empathy and respect after walking a mile in the shoes of the differently abled.

I’m grateful that it was only a fractured shoulder, because if I had broken my hip, my road to recover would most certainly be a much longer and more difficult one.

You never know what curves life will throw your way, so make sure you are always grateful for what you have. And please treat those who are different than you, with respect, dignity and empathy.

A Job Search, Decision-Making Guide: Checking Off All The Boxes

job search

It doesn’t matter if you’re a Salesforce Admin, Architect, Developer, or End User. I’m sure there have been times in your life and career where you created a list for some reason. A shopping list; a to-do list; a list of step-by-step instructions; or even a pros vs. cons list. Lists help us keep organized. Lists help us teach others. Lists help us to not forget something. And lists even help us make life-altering decisions like how to evaluate the results of a job search.

A Job Search – Now I Have Your Attention!

Yes, that’s right. You guessed it. I’ve searched for a new job and am making a job change. For those of you who are really observant, you may have noticed some subtle changes to my social profiles over the past few weeks. I’m moving the bulk of my work energies away from ITequality, the fantastically diverse Registered Salesforce Consulting partner that I’ve called home for the past 10 months. It’s been a fun ride there, and I’ve accomplished what I set out to do there – primarily kicking off marketing efforts and helping set the organization up for growth and more success. And me moving on also gives the company the opportunity to help bring more new talent into the ecosystem.

C’mon Eric, Tell Us Where You Are Going!

Not so fast! First let me explain the job search process I went through. I bet some of you are thinking, “Please don’t talk about that, everyone knows how to go to Indeed.com and search for Salesforce Administrator, or whatever job title you are looking for.” And while that’s one way to search for a job, it’s not the one I used.

And now some of you are probably thinking, “so you went to Salesforce.com/careers, or direct to any number of company websites.” Once again, that is one job search tactic, and once again, it’s not the one I used.

Quit Teasing Us! Tell Us Where You Are Going!

Patience, my friends! I’m not done explaining exactly how I searched for my next role. Many of you probably know me as the “Kevin Bacon of the Salesforce Ecosystem”. Or perhaps you know me as the Founder of Midwest Dreamin’, a Salesforce Community-led Conference started in 2011 to bring people together to network and learn Salesforce. Or maybe you have seen me present at any number of events (Community-led conferences, Community Group meetings, Dreamforce, etc.) where my catch phrase has always been “For me, the greatest strength of the Salesforce ecosystem is it’s people, and the connections that are shared.”

That’s where I started my search – with my connections.

A Select Few – The Targeted Email Campaign

I started my job search by doing what some might call a rather unconventional approach. I thought about the hundreds of companies & thousands of people I know. I chose a very select few, those I felt that I trusted and know extremely well. I sent them a very simple email:

Hello <person name>, I don’t know if <company name> has any open roles that match what I’m looking for. I didn’t even check your website before sending this message. I simply wanted you to know I’m on the market for a new role, and wondered if we should have a conversation.

Surprising Results

The preliminary results of that campaign were very surprising. Most people not only read my email, but they responded. And they overwhelmingly responded with “Let’s talk.”

Over the next two weeks I had many wonderful conversations – I suppose I could have called them job interviews, especially since two of those conversations resulted in job offers. But because of the relationship I already had with the organizations and their people, these events felt more like casual conversations than stressful job interviews.

Was it a random thing, or was it destiny?

Then on a Friday afternoon, about a week into this job search process, I received a seemingly random LinkedIn message from the former Sr. Vice President of a company I had spent nearly 4 years at, working with this SVP for the first two of those years.

That message was very succinct: Hi Eric! I’m working at <Company “X”> now. We are expanding the marketing team as we scale up for growth. I’m wondering if you know of anyone with your stature in the Salesforce ecosystem who might be interested in a role very similar to the one you had when you were first hired at <former employer name>? Hope you and your family are well. Signed <Company “X” CMO>

My response to that was simple: Your timing is impeccable, as I’m looking for a new role. Let’s talk on Monday.

Did that just give it away?

Those of you who know me well, or those with a curious mind and the ability to do some searching have probably figured out part of the mystery. It shouldn’t take much sleuthing to figure out where I was hired close to 5 years ago. And with just a little more digging, you might even be able to figure out who the mystery person is that hired me back then (and did it again just a couple weeks ago.)

After a few conversations with this company’s team, I had a third offer sitting on the table – and had a monumental, life-changing decision to make.

We make tough choices all the time…

Life is full of tough choices – that’s something my Dad used to tell me a lot when I was growing up. And that was usually followed by, “Sometimes you just have to do things, whether you want to or not, because it’s your job.” Back then, he was referring to taking out the trash, mowing the lawn, cleaning my room, etc. All the typical things parents fuss at teenagers about.

As I got older and became a parent myself, I realized that my Dad was really teaching me how to make an important decision. And that’s exactly where I sat now – on the precipice of having to make a very important decision. So how do I do that? With a check list complete with boxes to put the “x” in. You do remember that the title of this blog said something about checking off all the boxes, right?

What’s in the box(es)?

Here’s where things get personal – your boxes may vary, because what’s important to me, may not be important to you. (And remember, just like most things in life, things change all the time. So what was important to you 5 years ago, may or may not be as important today.)

Show us your boxes already!

Ok, OK! Here’s my box(es)!

Ok, ok! Here’s my boxes – and I attempted to put them in priority order.

  1. What’s the company’s mission and is it something I would stand up for?
  2. Does the company value diversity, not only in it’s leadership team, but throughout everything they do? (Bonus points for having someone in a role with “Diversity” as part of their title, and even more bonus points for having ERGs [Employee Resource Groups] dedicated to diverse groups of people.)
  3. Who is on the team I would be a part of, do our personalities line up well, and who is my direct-line manager & what’s their management style?
  4. What’s my specific role within the organization, and how much authority will I have to do what I feel is right (without having to jump through a lot of hoops or approval chains first?) In other words – if I have an idea for something I think will work, can I simply make it happen, knowing that regardless of the outcome, my management team will be there for me?
  5. What if I want to learn new things, or attend conferences, once they start up as in-person events again? Will the company support those initiatives with either financial or time-off measures?
  6. Health Insurance & Benefits – I’ve got a family, and good medical/dental/vision coverage (that’s affordable) is important to me – as is NOT having to change providers because we like where we get our care from today.
  7. Compensation – what’s the salary? You know, the cash-in-my-pocket on pay day. And even beyond that, what about longer-term security for me and my family? Is there a 401(k), and how generous is the company match, if one exists?

Finally the announcement you’ve all be waiting for!

In the final analysis, I sent an email to the company whose offer I was turning down that said this:

Let me tell you that this has been by far, one of the most gut wrenching decision I’ve ever had to make in my life. Possibly only second to having to make the call to cancel Midwest Dreamin’ for 2020.

The conclusion I’ve come to, is that the other offer checks off all the boxes with a slightly heavier check mark than <Company “Y”>. So I am accepting the other offer.

And as you probably would have guessed, for me – it’s not all about the money either. As I discussed in our last call, there were a ton of factors weighing in on this choice, but please know, in the over-all analysis, there were no red-flags, not negatives about <Company “Y”>.

I really appreciate the time and effort you all put forth into this process. I think I’ve learned a few things from this too, and one of those is that, I really don’t like having to make a decision when it feels like I’m choosing between two friends.

I do hope you find someone to fill the role who will take <Company “Y”> to the next level…and you can bet I’ll be sharing the job posting out in my networks to see if anyone I know has an interest.

And the Winner is…<Company “X”>

Maria Pergolino! Uh, I mean ActiveCampaign! (Well, ok, it’s both, really.) Maria took a chance on me and hired me into the Marketing team as Advocacy Manager at Apttus in January, 2016. And now, whether it was a truly random chain of events, or a very calculated progression of her thoughts, Maria has hired me once again into a Marketing team that she is leading. This time into the role of Product Marketing Manager at ActiveCampaign. And I couldn’t be more excited to be going back home to work with Maria.

5 Things you may not know about FormAssembly

Form Builder

FormAssembly is an all-in-one web form builder and data collection platform.

With an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop form builder, FormAssembly makes it simpler than ever to build sophisticated online forms. Users can change the layout and design of their forms to match their company’s unique branding for a seamless user experience, tailoring their forms to their specific use case and audience.

FormAssembly users can build an unlimited number of forms and collect an unlimited number of responses, which can all be found conveniently within the user’s FormAssembly account.

FormAssembly’s robust Salesforce integration helps Salesforce users get more out of their data.

With FormAssembly’s Salesforce connector, you can use form submissions to seamlessly set up records in Salesforce. FormAssembly can be used to create or update standard and custom objects, as shown below. This helps users avoid duplicate data. 

form builder

You can also prefill forms with data from Salesforce to streamline the data collection process for your customers. This robust integration helps Salesforce users eliminate tedious manual data entry and therefore save time, money, and resources. Visit FormAssembly on the Salesforce AppExchange to learn more.

FormAssembly also connects with other systems and tools, such as PayPal, Stripe, Mailchimp, and many others.

FormAssembly is suitable for endless use cases in all industries and departments, with helpful templates to help you get started.

Thousands of organizations in all industries trust FormAssembly for simple, secure data collection. FormAssembly’s versatile platform is used by large enterprises and small to mid-sized businesses alike, including financial services companies, healthcare organizations, higher education institutions, nonprofits, government agencies, and more. Because the platform is so customizable, it can be used in multiple departments of the same company, with endless use case potential.
FormAssembly’s recently updated Template Library makes it easy to start building sophisticated web forms, with customizable, ready-made templates for everything from secure payment forms to medical history forms. You may start FormAssembly for one specific use case, then find other use case ideas while looking through the Template Library. Below, you’ll see an example of a HIPAA medical form template:

form builder

FormAssembly prioritizes data privacy and security and is compliant with many data privacy regulations.

FormAssembly’s mission is to help its customers become better stewards of the data entrusted to them. With this mission in mind, FormAssembly offers encryption at rest and compliance with GDPR, CCPA, and PCI DSS Level 1 on all plans. FormAssembly’s Compliance Cloud plan is also compliant with HIPAA and GLBA, making it the ideal data collection platform for handling sensitive healthcare or financial information.

FormAssembly has a world-class Customer Success team.

When you read FormAssembly’s reviews on the Salesforce AppExchange, you’ll notice many mentions of their reliable Customer Success team. All customers receive unlimited world-class support, and Compliance Cloud customers receive priority support with 1-hour response times guaranteed 24/7 Monday through Friday.

FormAssembly offers Implementation Services for organizations that need extra support with customization and getting started. Packages include onboarding assistance, group training, and other options to help customers get the absolute most out of FormAssembly. FormAssembly also has extensive support documentation and helpful resources readily available for customers. 
Want to experience FormAssembly’s powerful, Salesforce-connected data collection platform for yourself? Sign up for a personalized demo or start a 14-day free trial today, no credit card required.

Does Your Data Tell Stories?

I’m going to show my age here…remember the joke:

Question: What time does your watch say? Answer: It doesn’t say anything, I have to read it.

It’s like that with data too:

Question: What stories do your data tell? Answer: They don’t tell anything, I have to analyze and interpret the data to figure that out.

I’ve spent a large portion of my career digging into data, analyzing it, searching for patterns, outliers and exceptions. Why? To help the organizations I was working for to better understand what was driving their business forward, what was holding it back, where they were spending too much money, where they were making a lot of money, and even why their competition gained market share while they lost it.

It took hours and hours to plow through all the data available for analysis in order to be able to answer questions like “Why is printer ink sales down in Modesto?” or “Why do we sell more Adidas than Nike in Chicago?” Even much more complex questions like “How many seats do we need to fill on a Boeing 757 flight from Chicago to San Francisco to break even, and at what average price per seat?” can be answered with the right data. At one of my prior roles, I spent nearly 3 weeks of every month simply prepping the data from the previous month so that I could answer questions like those just mentioned. And then, during that 4th week of each month, I spent my time defending my findings and data analysis to management as I presented the facts about the business that went against their gut feelings.

Of course all this happened early in my career, long before I was a Salesforce user.

When I first started using Salesforce, I built reports and dashboards to see how many times customers called in with certain types of issues relating to their software. I was able to determine how often specific customers called in for support and what they needed help with. That still took time, but it was quicker than my pre-Salesforce days, and often still required some additional analysis and word-smithing before sharing with management.

So that’s better, but still rather time-consuming.

Enter Lexio, from Narrative Science.

Lexio automates analysis and gives you the story hidden in your Salesforce data in plain English, in real-time, and in a way that helps you understand and act on it.

Now that’s your data telling you something!

Narrative Science calls that Data Storytelling. Sounds simple enough, right? Ok, you try to explain just exactly what Data Storytelling is…go!

Listen to what the people who work at Narrative Science have to say in this video.

Want to learn more? Visit with Narrative Science at Dreamforce.

The 2019 Dreamforce Survival Kit

Dreamforce. The name says it all – Dream!

Thousands upon thousands of people dream about attending each year, and once they finally get a taste of the annual Salesforce event, they feel this inexplicable force drawing them back year after year. 2019 will be my ninth year attending Dreamforce and my 7th year as a speaker. If I have my way, I will be returning to Dreamforce every year, year after year, just like the Monarch Butterfly’s annual return to Mexico, Florida and southern California, except that I fly on American Airlines and use BART, Lyft or Uber as my chosen modes of transportation.

Here are my top survival tips for first-time Dreamforce attendees:

Shoes – Wear comfortable shoes – You will walk more than you think. WAY more than you think. Many of the sessions are held in Moscone Center, which is actually three different buildings each with multiple floors of convention space. There are also sessions scattered about the city in various other locations – a movie theater and many hotels – some of them a good 15 minute walk from Moscone. If you are not used to walking a lot, get on a treadmill or get outside and start walking now! You might even want to bring more than one pair of comfortable shoes…just be sure they are not brand new. Breaking in new shoes at Dreamforce is a recipe for sore and tired feet!

Laptop – Leave the laptop at home – If you must bring it to San Francisco, leave it secured in the safe at your hotel room. You will quickly find that it becomes very heavy to carry around with you all day, even if it’s one of the ultralight laptops. Opt for a tablet if you have one or your smartphone if you are comfortable taking notes on a small device. Some people I know go totally old school and take notes in a notebook at Dreamforce! If you must bring your laptop, opt for a backpack or messenger-style bag that can cross your body, not just hang off one shoulder. You don’t want to end the week with a definitive lean to one side. (Please note – I do NOT always practice what I preach…and I usually pay the price for that.)

Clothing – Wear comfortable clothing – Be sure to dress in layers or bring a light jacket. San Francisco has beautiful weather nearly all year. It never really gets terribly hot or very cold, but with the proximity to the ocean, the chances for a breeze are pretty good, and once the sun goes down, the air could get a little chilly. It may be a little cooler than last year, since Dreamforce is in mid-November. AccuWeather currently shows Dreamforce week as having highs in the low 60s and lows in the upper 40s. That’s what I call camping weather, and its my favorite time of the year. (Hmm…that fits in nicely with Trailhead!)

Water – Don’t forget to eat and stay hydrated – Don’t get so busy with the event that you forget to eat. And by all means, keep drinking water too. (But please do so using a refillable water bottle to keep all the plastic out of the landfills and oceans!) Eating and drinking water is the best way to keep up your energy. Now I know what you’re thinking…if I drink a lot, I’ll need to use the bathroom a lot. That’s true. That’s also part of human nature. There’s time between sessions to find a bathroom, although the lines may be longer between sessions, so if you have a time-slot where you are not in a session, make a pit stop, even if you don’t feel the urge. I bet your body will thank you for it anyway. In past years, Dreamforce has created gender neutral bathrooms on the 2nd level of Moscone West – near room 2004; as well as in the Hilton Union Square and the Marriott Marquis.

Network –  a.k.a., talk to people – Don’t be scared. Talk to everyone you can. Talk to the person on your right when waiting in line to go into a session. Talk to the person sitting to your left once you get inside a session. When you take a break to eat lunch (included in your conference registration) be brave and sit near people you don’t know…and start a conversation! (Just don’t get so busy you forget about food and water! Remember the previous tip you just read?) With all the walking and mental exercise you’ll be getting during Dreamforce, you’ll need all the nourishment you can find! Back to talking to people – just do it. (Disclaimer – I know Nike uses this expression as part of their brand – I hope they don’t get too mad at me for using the sentence. At least I gave them credit for it!) People always say that outside your comfort zone is where the magic happens. It’s the same for Dreamforce. If you are an introvert, make it a goal to meet one new person per day. That’s not too daunting, right? You never know who you might meet. Out of the 33,000 + people at my first Dreamforce in 2011, I managed to sit down for lunch at a table with one of my brother-in-law’s co-workers. And no, I did not know that before I sat at that table! (Cue the Walt Disney music: It’s a small world after all!) If you are shy, take the high-tech approach to networking. Bring a surge strip with you and hang out at a charging station between sessions – one surge strip could mean five instant connections.

After Hours – Dreamforce at Night – Be prepared for some long days. This isn’t just an 8am to 5pm conference. Sure that’s when most of the keynotes and breakout sessions occur, but there are also many opportunities for networking before and after those hours thanks to many partners sponsoring parties. Your one stop shop for all the parties at Dreamforce this year is The Ultimate Dreamforce Parties List from Salesforce Ben! And don’t forget about the Trailblazer Community, with its many Dreamforce related groups like “New to Dreamforce” and “Dreamforce Newbie Reunion Breakfast” (Shameless plug number 1: That’s a group that I am organize, and it’s purpose is to help Dreamforce first-timers make a connection or two, while helping to raise money for Project Night Night. Want to attend the breakfast on Tuesday, November 19th from 6:30am to 8:30am? Register here.) One more point about “after-hours”, and this one’s pretty important: don’t overdo it on the alcohol! You will need to be well rested for the next day’s activities at Dreamforce, and while alcohol may help you fall asleep, too much of it can make waking up in the morning more of a challenge. (Some people call me a “one-hit wonder”…one adult beverage, and then I’m onto water the rest of the night.)

Training – If you can, take advantage of the pre-conference training and certification opportunities, Dreamforce is the perfect opportunity for that too, and at a discounted price too! Once you get your certification, be sure to tweet it out with #ThisOneIsForYouTamiEsling, use the same hashtag in the Trailblazer Community and on Facebook too! Doing so will make your celebration of certification a tribute to the late Tami Esling, a Salesforce MVP who passed away on March 5th, 2016. Tami made it her mission to help people get certified, so help keep her memory alive!

Go Global – Dreamforce doesn’t just happen in San Francisco. Dreamforce happens all over the globe! Attend a Salesforce World Tour or Trailhead Live event in your area. Look here for an event near you. Join a Community group in your area and attend the meetings regularly. Look for awesome regional, Community led Salesforce events, and attend those too! The Trailblazer Community is an awesome way to expand your knowledge and increase not only your network of people, but also the resources you can count on to help you solve problems.

All Year Long – Dreamforce isn’t just a week during the year. Thanks to the Trailblazer Community it’s a perpetual event. Get active on the Community and share your struggles and your successes. Get connected with the people you will meet BEFORE you get to Dreamforce and make friends that last a lifetime!

So why do so many people attend Dreamforce year after year? In a word, because it is AWESOME!

Want to meet up with me at Dreamforce? Tweet me!

5 Things you might not know about Salesforce partner FairWarning

Guest post from Mike Mason, Senior Product Marketing Manager, FairWarning.

FairWarning is an ISV Salesforce partner – and here are 5 things everybody should know about us.

Kurt J. Long founded FairWarning after his own experience with a data breach.

Years ago, as founder and young CEO of the information security company OpenNetwork, Kurt was approached by the FBI after false information about a celebrity lawyer was sent from their network to a local radio personality, who read the information on-air to listeners. They needed to quickly determine where the leak originated, and whether they had somebody dangerous on staff. For three days, their key IT person – we’ll call him “Ken” – worked around the clock to investigate IP addresses and delve into all types of audit logs, painstakingly piecing together that the breach had come from an insider named “Don.” After this experience, Kurt realized the market needed a “Magic Button” that a business-minded person could push – one that would help organizations grow trust in their workforce while verifying that their access is above board. No other industry needed this more than the healthcare industry, due to the vast amount of sensitive data involved in patient care. FairWarning started there, monitoring electronic health record systems (EHRs) and other applications containing patient information. We introduced FairWarning for Salesforce in 2015 as a way for all types of organizations – not just healthcare – to unlock the information hidden in complex Salesforce Shield audit logs.

(EFD – Creating a product from a personal experience…I bet that’s how a lot of AppExchange partners go their start!)

FairWarning’s vision is to grow trust in an increasingly interconnected world.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, consumer trust in businesses has plummeted. As headlines of security breaches make their way to our news feeds nearly every day, citizens may feel that the organizations holding their most sensitive data care little about the security of that data. Everything that FairWarning does, from product upgrades to educating customers, is designed to help our customers grow that trust, both internally and with customers.

(EFD – All of us in the Salesforce Ohana understand the value of Trust.)

We want all business-minded users to have full visibility into Salesforce user activity – not just data scientists.

“Ken” from OpenNetwork spent three days combing through those audit logs to track down the origin of one leak. Had the FBI not notified Kurt of the leak, the company may have never known anything happened. FairWarning delivers that visibility by translating complex audit logs (e.g., Salesforce Shield Event Monitoring) into simplified, actionable insights and proactive alerts on specific user behavior. We believe everybody should have visibility into their cloud applications without having to turn to a data scientist to interpret the information within the applications’ audit logs. And we believe in providing a product that works when you need it most.

(EFD – Putting the power into the users’ hands!)

We work closely with Salesforce.com product development to help our customers unlock the full value of Salesforce and Shield.

Because visibility for all is so important to us, we are in constant contact with Salesforce.com product development and marketing to ensure that our customers’ voices are being heard within the Salesforce ecosystem. We have helped drive enhancements to Event Monitoring logs, and are currently working with a group of customers on real-time monitoring. In fact, our Dreamforce ‘18 messaging is “Empowering You to Take Shield to the Next Level.” We are a true partner for Salesforce and our customers, in every sense of the word.

(EFD – Be sure to visit with FairWarning while you are at Dreamforce!)

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FairWarning Senior Product Marketing Manager Mike Mason discusses how businesses can take Shield to the next level and get greater visibility into Salesforce by coupling FairWarning with Salesforce Shield Event Monitoring.

We are inspired by global adventure.

FairWarning’s values include “Growth,” and we’re inspired by challenges and adventures. For many years, we’ve had an internal Flag Program, where employees take a FairWarning Flag on their travels and submit photos of themselves in amazing locales (over 40 countries to date!). Recently, we opened the Flag Program to any customer who would like to take a piece of FairWarning with them. And FairWarning CEO/Creator Kurt J. Long is currently making his way across the Mediterranean for the 2018 Virgin Strive Challenge. The Challenge benefits Big Change, which works to give young people essential skills, opportunities, and support to grow within themselves and change the world. The five-stage challenge includes a duathlon across Sardinia, hike on Corsica, five-day cycling arm through the Southern Alps, Alpine hike, and scaling of Europe’s tallest mountain, Mont Blanc.

fairwarningflag

Customer Success Manager Megan Krieger displays the FairWarning flag while climbing the Salkantay Trek in Peru

(EFD – Wow! Now that’s a view that needs no warning!)

 

5 Things You Can do at Dreamforce Without Attending a Single Session

Guest post from James Lloyd-Townshend, CEO of Mason Frank International. James Lloyd-Townshend is the CEO of Mason Frank International, a specialist Salesforce recruiter and long-time Dreamforce sponsor. He has provided us with the following insight into what you can get up to at Dreamforce 2018, the biggest Salesforce event of the year.

Dreamforce truly is a dream for Salesforce professionals. With 3,000+ sessions over the four-day event, there’s every opportunity to learn more about your specialism or focus product within the Salesforce ecosystem, and gather insights into the future of the technology.

Arguably the best thing about Dreamforce, however, is the volume of exciting activities you can engage in without even visiting a breakout session. Some of the most innovative technology companies in the world are exhibiting in San Francisco this year and, like any good festival, sometimes you have to venture off the beaten path to find the real magic.

Here are five things you can do at Dreamforce 2018 without attending a single session:

Discounted training and certification

Salesforce has a fantastic open education portal that encourages professionals to learn at their own pace, wherever and whenever they like. This extends to its certification routes, as it’s now easier than ever to take online-proctored exams, meaning you don’t even have to leave your house to become a certified Salesforce pro.

One of the perks of attending Dreamforce, however, is the discounts you can get on both training and certification. Trailhead Bootcamps, led by seasoned Salesforce experts, are being held early in the week, and you can receive up to a 50% discount on certification exams if you register via the online portal. If you’ve been weighing up whether you can justify the expense of certification, you’ve just found your answer.

Find a job

The Salesforce Partner ecosystem is rich with growing enterprises, while End Users are always on the hunt for new talent. If you’re looking for a fresh new challenge, or you navigate the contract market, Dreamforce could be the perfect chance to link up with your next employer. However, if you don’t fancy wandering around resume in-hand, you could always take the opportunity to speak to a recruiter exhibiting at Dreamforce.

Mason Frank International is the largest recruiter of Salesforce jobs in the world and, having sponsored Dreamforce five years in a row, is well equipped to advise you on your next career move; even if that’s just giving you a few tips on where to look for jobs or how to optimize your resume for prospective employers.

Customer Success Expo

Are you interested in exploring the latest solutions created by ISVs? Dreamforce’s Customer Success Expo offers the perfect chance to test drive an independent application that could make your life a whole lot easier. With more than 400 Salesforce Partners showcasing their expertise at this event, consider it a Comic Con for Salesforce geeks, only instead of comic books and movie memorabilia, you might end up coming away with an innovative solution that doubles your earning potential.

Give back to the community (and see Metallica!)

Salesforce co-founder, Marc Benioff, is no stranger to philanthropy, and the fundraising efforts at Dreamforce 2018 demonstrate that perfectly. Attendees are being encouraged to complete Dreamforce Quests via the mobile app or at Quest Towers located throughout the campus; each completed Quest unlocks a $50 donation towards local charities in the San Francisco Bay area, in an effort to help end homelessness.

If that wasn’t enough, Salesforce’s legendary Dreamfest benefit concert has been supporting UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals for several years now, and the 2018 show will push the boat out even further by featuring rock legends Metallica. So whether you want to seek and destroy free cocktails, fade to black in the mosh pit, or nothing else matters to you except learning more about Salesforce, register your place for this concert for an unforgettable experience while raising money for children in need.

Party…party hard

There’s a reason why Dreamforce is affectionately nicknamed drunkforce by the Salesforce community. As well as the event itself doing its best to create a party atmosphere, the number of Dreamforce after-parties being hosted by partners and user groups will almost certainly set you up for a sore head. Check out Salesforce Ben’s Dreamforce party guide for a better idea of what’s in store, but you’re likely to end up being invited to several parties once you’re at the event. These parties offer a great opportunity to network, but you could always just play ping pong; nothing wrong with that!

Enjoy your time in San Francisco, and be sure to cram as much into your Dreamforce experience as possible. This is the biggest Salesforce event of the year, and of all time, so make the most of every second, whether that involves learning more about your focus product or watching MC Hammer do his thing at an after-party. This is what being part of the Salesforce Ohana is all about—see you there!

The Dreamforce Newbie Survival Kit, 2018 Edition

Dreamforce. The name says it all.

Thousands and thousands of people dream about attending, and once they get there, they feel this inexplicable force that draws them back year after year. 2018 will be my eighth year attending Dreamforce, and if I have my way, I will continue return every year, just like the Monarch Butterfly’s annual migration to Mexico, Florida and southern California, except that I use an airplane and BART for my modes of transportation, since I don’t have wings!

Here are a few tips that I think all first-time Dreamforce attendees should know:

1. Wear comfortable shoes – You will walk more than you think. WAY more than you think. Many of the sessions are held in Moscone Center, which is actually three different buildings each with at least two floors of convention space. There are also sessions scattered about the city in various other locations including a theater and many hotels. If you are not used to walking a lot, get on a treadmill or get outside and start walking now! You might even want to bring more than one pair of comfortable shoes…just be sure they are not brand new. Breaking in new shoes at Dreamforce is a recipe for sore and tired feet! Corey Snow walked a lot at Dreamforce 2017!

2. Leave the laptop at home – If you must bring it to San Francisco, leave it secured in the safe at your hotel room. You will quickly find that it becomes very heavy to carry around with you all day, even if it’s one of the ultralight laptops. Opt for a tablet if you have one or even just your smartphone if you are comfortable taking notes on a small device. (Please note – I do NOT always practice what I preach, and I usually pay the price for that. If you must bring your laptop, opt for a backpack or messenger-style bag that can cross your body, not just hang off one shoulder. You don’t want to end the week with a definitive lean.)

3. Wear comfortable clothing – Be sure to dress in layers or bring a light jacket. San Francisco has beautiful weather nearly all year. It never really gets terribly hot or very cold, but with the proximity to the ocean, the chances for a breeze are pretty good, and once the sun goes down, the air could get a little chilly. It will be a little warmer than last year, since Dreamforce is earlier by 6 weeks or so. Personally, being from the Midwest, I love the cool evenings!  It’s what I call camping weather. (Hmm…that fits in nicely with Trailhead!)

4. Don’t forget to eat and stay hydrated – Don’t get so busy with the event that you forget to eat. And by all means, keep drinking water too. (But please do so using a refillable water bottle to keep all the plastic out of the landfills and oceans!) Eating and drinking water is the best way to keep up your energy. Now I know what you’re thinking…if I drink a lot, I’ll need to use the bathroom a lot. That’s true. That’s also part of human nature. There’s time between sessions to find a bathroom, although the lines may be longer between sessions, so if you have a time-slot where you are not in a session, make a pit stop, even if you don’t feel the urge. I bet your body will thank you for it anyway. One thing to note: For those preferring gender neutral bathrooms, you’ll find one on the 2nd level of Moscone West, near room 2004, as well as in the Hilton Union Square and the Marriott Marquis.

 

5. Network –  a.k.a., talk to people. Don’t be scared. Talk to everyone you can. Talk to the person on your right when waiting in line to go into a session. Talk to the person sitting to your left once you get inside a session. When you take a break to eat lunch (included in your conference registration) be brave and sit near people you don’t know…and start a conversation! (Just don’t get so busy you forget about food and water! Remember tip #4 you just read? With all the walking and mental exercise you’ll be getting during Dreamforce, you’ll need all the nourishment you can find!) Back to talking to people –  Just do it. Outside your comfort zone is where the magic happens. You’ll never know who you’ll meet. Out of the 45,000 + people at Dreamforce 2011, I managed to sit down for lunch at a table with one of my brother-in-law’s co-workers. (Cue the Walt Disney music: It’s a small world after all!) If you are shy, take the high-tech approach to networking. Bring a surge strip with you and hang out at a charging station between sessions – one surge strip could mean five instant connections.

6. Dreamforce “After Hours” – Be prepared for some long days. This isn’t just an 8am to 5pm conference. Sure that’s when most of the keynotes and breakout sessions occur, but there are also many opportunities for networking before and after those hours thanks to many partners sponsoring parties. Your one stop shop for all the parties at Dreamforce this year is the Anaplan Party List. And don’t forget about the Trailblazer Community, with its many Dreamforce related groups like “New to Dreamforce” and “Dreamforce Newbie Reunion Breakfast” (Shameless plug number 1: That’s a group that I am organize, and it’s purpose is to help Dreamforce first-timers make a connection or two, while helping to raise money for Project Night Night. Want to attend the breakfast on Tuesday, September 26th from 6:30am to 8:30am? Register here.) One more point about “after-hours” – don’t overdo it on the alcohol! You will need to be well rested for the next day’s adventures at Dreamforce, and while alcohol may help you fall asleep, to much of it can make waking up in the morning more of a challenge. (Some people call me the “one-hit wonder”…one adult beverage, and then I’m onto water the rest of the night.)

6. Training – If you can, take advantage of the pre-conference training and certification opportunities, Dreamforce is the perfect opportunity for that too, and at a discounted price too! Once you get your certification, tweet it out with #ThisOneIsForYouTamiEsling, use the same hashtag in the Trailblazer Community and on Facebook too! Doing so will make your celebration of certification a tribute to the late Tami Esling, a Salesforce MVP who passed away on March 5th, 2016, who made it her mission to help people get certified.

7. Go Global – Dreamforce doesn’t just happen in San Francisco. Dreamforce happens all over the globe! Attend a Salesforce World Tour or Trailhead Live event in your area. Look here for an event near you. Join a user group in your area and attend the meetings regularly. Look for awesome regional, Community led Salesforce events, and attend those too! The Trailblazer Community is an awesome way to expand your knowledge and increase not only your network of people, but also the resources you can count on to help you solve problems.

8. All Year Long – Dreamforce isn’t just a week during the year. Thanks to the Trailblazer Community it’s a perpetual event. Get active on the Community and share your struggles and your successes. Get connected with the people you will meet BEFORE you get to Dreamforce and make friends that last a lifetime!

So why do so many people attend Dreamforce year after year? In a word, because it is AWESOME!

Want to meet up with me at Dreamforce? Tweet me!

5 Things you might not know about Panaya – Managing Change Impact in Salesforce

Guest post from Ronit Eliav, Director of Product Marketing, Panaya

Who is Panaya and why we care about SFDC

Panaya is the leader in continuous delivery of innovation to the world of enterprise IT applications. As SFDC environments mature, they become more complex, making any system alteration or change a major risk. We enable risk-free change of Salesforce.com business applications.

What is RDx for SFDC

Panaya Release Dynamix (RDx) for Salesforce.com is a release management solution that pinpoints areas impacted by change so you can foresee and resolve potential change delivery risks. It helps you make informed decisions when going into production.

(EFD – Who remembers Panaya ChangeGuru, and who missed that when it was decommissioned off the AppExchange? Keep reading – you’ll enjoy the rest of this!)

How we provide visibility

With Panaya RDx for Salesforce, change is no longer a calculated guesswork.  How do we enable release certainty? The solution provides a full view of change dependencies and usage statistics so that you can pinpoint the  impact of all code developed. This way you can foresee and resolve any risks associated with the change prior to production.

(EFD – “Prior to production” – did you see that? You can see and resolve issues before things go live.)

Panaya Release Dynamix for Salesforce: Scoping

How we remove risk

Panaya RDx helps you understand the impact of all code developed before going to production. Once scoped items have been defined, you can decide which impacted customization and development components should be changed. For every scoped entity, a deep analysis is available, with detailed component dependencies including: code change highlights, usage rating, modification dates, and touchpoints to external applications. With an auto-generated list of impacted components, you can easily assign development and customization tasks to team members.

Panaya Release Dynamix for Salesforce: Dependency Map

How we ensure quality

Panaya RDx automatically generates test plans for safe release to production. Once the list of development and customization components has been created, a test plan can easily be defined. This is done based on an analysis of the chosen components and an auto-generated list of related testing entry points. For every entry point, a test owner may either link a test from an existing catalog, ask the system for test recommendations or create a new test.

(EFD – Panaya is trying to make your life easier. Shouldn’t you at least talk to them about a demo at Dreamforce?)

Release Dynamix for Salesforce addresses those pain points associated with releasing changes so that IT teams can deploy faster with quality. Calculated guesswork is removed and replaced with data-based decision making to ensure confident deployment.

See for yourself, download 5 tips to Safe and Fast Salesforce.com System Changes.