General, Videos

Time for a tech implant?

A couple of weeks ago I was at CeBIT one of “the largest computer expo’s in the world”. At its height during the dot-com boom around 800,000 people would descend to Hanover in Germany to see the latest tech. Since then things have changed and people generally get their dose of tech via the internet rather than going to big tech events so now CeBIT has reduced to around 300,000 people.

Anyone for an Alexa implant?

Salesforce was there in full force running their German Salesforce World Tour, BUT in one of the adjoining rooms, there was a stand where you could get a RFID chip injected … yes injected! into your hand, so you could unlock your phone with a wave of your hand, or even unlock your front door? (check out the video above!)

Yes, this isn’t new but what was interesting to me was that there was a steady stream of people wanting this done to them. It’s interesting to see how attitudes to tech have changed over the years and how something in the 80s was a thing of horror is now becoming more acceptable…

General, Videos

The Future of Salesforce Lightning

So Monday night was a big night! We had none other than Mike Rosenbaum (@mike945778) who is in charge of the Salesforce platform including Sales, Service and Lightning. We asked him a load of questions that the community had come up with and here are some of his answers. I’ll be putting the full video up shortly:

  • Performance; We had a lot of questions around Lightning performance, Mike said that for the forthcoming release all Lightning developers at Salesforce have been working on performance and you will see big improvements!
  • Components Roadmap; Mike has committed to releasing the component roadmap so developers are not developing components that Salesforce is as well! (makes sense!)
  • Next release feature (Safe Harbor): Declarative component visibility; I’ve been waiting for this! and Mike announced it’s coming out in the next release! This puts page layouts in the dark! Think of being able to declaratively change which components appear on the layout based on the data on the record you are viewing! This is one of my “Lightning Game changer” features that I spoke about at the Sydney user group.
  • New Report builder; The next release will see a new Lightning Report Builder! which is much much better and more usable. But also with a focus on general users being able to create reports rather than being siloed in a particular team etc.
  • More Wizards / Setup Flows; At the moment there are around 20 of these wizards but Mike is expecting there to be a load more to make it easier to setup things like single sign on, cloud console etc
  • Classic is not going way; There is no secret date when the classic UI is going to be switched off. Although he did say that he maybe switching it on for all Salesforce employees in their own Salesforce org 🙂

Mike would love your feedback! Just tweet him at @mike945778 (he even said why his twitter has the crazy number)

https://twitter.com/Salesforce_Tom/status/848952112574758912

 

It was Salesforce Developer evangelist John Stevenson’s birthday as well but he didn’t say a word until the very end of the evening!! Now that’s dedication to the job.

General

S-Controls are coming back to Salesforce!

Salesforce has announced that S-Controls are coming back to Salesforce classic. For those who don’t know what S-Controls are, they were the technology before VisualForce and allowed you to create webpages and use the Salesforce JavaScript APIs to communicate with Salesforce (hence the S in S-Controls). Around 10 years ago Salesforce stopped Salesforce customers from creating new S-Controls as VisualForce had replaced the need for S-Controls, but I still find S-Controls in customers orgs. You can still edit and make changes too… well that was until this announcement!

Why are Salesforce re-enabling S-Controls?

It’s all due to Lighting! Lightning is a JavaScript framework and by bringing back S-Controls, Salesforce will allow developers to develop JavaScript based Lightning apps directly in Salesforce classic without the need of VisualForce. S-Controls are much lighter than VisualForce so you can illuminate the need for an Apex controller or even VisualForce markup! It also means new developers coming to the platform with a client who is still using the Classic UI can skip learning VisualForce/Apex and jump straight into the JavaScript world that is Lightning & S-Controls.

New ‘Add Lightning Component’ Button

New ‘Add Lightning Component’ Button

So Salesforce as expanded the S-Control functionality to allow you to easily add Lightning Components into your S-Control using the ‘Add Lightning Component’ Button (see pic).

Adoption, Adoption, Adoption

I think also another reason for re-enabling S-Controls is to allow developers & businesses a softer introduction into Lightning components & development. Lightning components/apps can be created directly in the Classic UI using S-Controls or just using regular old JavaScript. It also means that those orgs still using S-Controls can refactor the controls into Lightning components/apps more quickly without the need for VisualForce.

Click here for some AWESOME examples!!

+

Yes, well I couldn’t resist! 🙂 S-Controls have been consigned to history and now with Lightning replacing VisualForce there is NO CHANCE S-Controls will see the light of day again.

So in conclusion, I think it makes a lot of sense it. Let’s make S-Controls great again! 😉

General, News

New European Salesforce MVPs

Twice a year Salesforce looks for worthy people to become Salesforce MVPs. MVPs are people from the community that have demonstrated Salesforce expertise, leadership, responsiveness, and advocacy and with around 160 worldwide and it’s a growing group! There are currently around 160 MVPs worldwide and I was lucky enough to become an MVP back in January 2012, it is always an honour to be renewed in such an amazing group of people. The platform and associated products in Salesforce are so large now it’s impossible to know it all, knowing that there are guru’s around the globe focused in their own specialisation is awesome.

Salesforce has a rigorous process for evaluating MVPs, it starts first with someone nominating a potential MVP, anyone can do this here when the nominations open. Information is compiled and reviewed by a number of different teams within Salesforce as well as existing Salesforce MVPs before awarding with new MVPs or renewals. The MVP only lasts one year and if have kept up with the core tenants of being an MVP (Expertise, Leadership, Responsiveness, and advocacy) then you may be renewed for another year.

The New European MVPs!

What makes me most excited is seeing new MVPs appearing in Europe. Not to mention existing MVPs being renewed which includes myself, Jodi WagnerAgustina GarcíaAlex TennantChris EdwardsChristopher LewisFabien TaillonJoshua HoskinsKeir BowdenMichael GillMohamed El MoussaouiPhil WaltonSamuel De RyckeSimon Goodyear.

The full list can be found here.

Sergey Erlikh (@sergeyer)

Sergey Erlikh

Twitter: @sergeyer
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sergeyerlikh/

Based in Amstelveen noord, Netherlands Sergey is our first European Non-Profit MVP!!! and also co-leader of The Netherlands Salesforce nonprofit user.

Louise Lockie (@LouiseLockie)

Louise Lockie

Twitter: @LouiseLockie
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/louise-lockie-a8250115/
Website: louiselockie.blogspot.co.uk

Louise runs the Women in Tech user group in London and has talked at a number of Salesforce events including London’s Calling this year. Checkout her talk on Tackling the “We’ve always done it this way”.

Fabrice Cathala (@fcathala)

Fabrice Cathala

Twitter: @fcathala
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/fcathala/
Website: saas-components.com

Fabrice is a Technical Architect working for CLOUT! His blog is filled with great advice on Salesforce Architecture and he also presented at London’s Calling on ‘Migrating to Lightning

Sunil Sarilla

Sunil Sarilla

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sunil-sarilla-4a49533/
Success: https://success.salesforce.com/profile?u=0053000000AJ82FAAT

Currently Ranked 5th in Success for answering Salesforce answers he has answered 11,885 questions so far! Based in London as well? I think but I’ve never met him, so hopefully we will meet soon!

Dreamforce, General, News

My 2016 Salesforce year in review

This time last year I don’t think I could ever have imagined that I would have the time to write a blog post. It was our first London’s Calling with event which involved huge amounts of work, guides to create, banners to be printed, sponsors to coral, bags to stuff, menus to choose, finances to manage, t-shirt to design. We were all maxed out! but the largest community-led event for Salesforce Professionals is back bigger than ever on Feb 10th! (well last year anyway).

What I’m most excited about for this year is our keynote speaker. Those eagle-eyed of you may have spotted some clues around the place. I’m really hoping that they go down well as it’s a little bit different than last year, but I’m staying tight-lipped until we announce… tomorrow! 🙂

For me, LC2017 will be a change in direction for me. But I have to say 2016 was although frustrating on a number of different fronts, the Salesforce front was really quite fun 🙂

My 2016 in Salesforce

Well, I think 2016 was quite an epic year all in all. My main theme for 2016 was vegetables so hopefully, people saw that 🙂 and somehow I found some room to be trustee of a theatre company & get married?!

User groups from London to Sydney & New Zealand!

We had 7 user groups in London at the beginning of the year…

.. and in 2016 another was born. The Pardot user group:

I managed to connect with community members across the globe talking at the Sydney user group, and here’s a pic from the Auckland user group:

Our London Admin user group had its 2yr old birthday!

We had #TrailheadDX Live!!

Salesforce meets AWS

Salesforce announced that it was investing $800m into AWS and moving its core platform over to AWS and with AWS setting up a new London region this is going to be huge. The future is Serverless, in my opinion, and we have Ryan Kronenberg talking all about serverless technology & AWS at London’s Calling.

London World Tour

I spoke on Securing your Salesforce org from your employees and also a talk on how I thought people were missing the point on Salesforce Connect. As well as helping out at the trailhead zone.

and had some great feedback… I did say my 2016 theme was vegetables! Did anyone else spot them?

Also… there was a Star Wars invasion at the London World Tour, thank’s Phil!!

London’s Calling

We ran the first and largest Salesforce community event in Europe! It made some of us… well quite strange… 🙂

 

 

Dreamforce

Had an epic time at Dreamforce. This year Salesforce went “Trailhead all in” with 170,000 attendees!! I did two talks “Admin’s Guide to Developer Console” and “Salesforce Connect custom adapters”, although bizarrely after getting one of the highest session scores for the dev talk Salesforce has berried the talk video? hmm… maybe my talk was a little to radical 🙂

But The Admin’s Guide to developer console talk went down equally as well:

I helped out at the Security Expert booth and as I walked up to it what did I see but Ben Edwards SF Tools, if you haven’t seen them check them out!

At the awesome people party I had a caricature created of me 🙂

Was one of the presenters at the Dreamforce SMB DemoJam:

Yes, a grew a tail! Maybe I had been hanging out in the Trailhead zone too long? 🙂

MidWest Dreamin

I had the honour of running the DemoJam at MidWest Dreamin. Was great fun! and we’re doing it again at London’s Calling with 13 sponsors!

Salesforce year in review

As Salesforce comes to its year-end the company has continued its growth up 25%. But it’s interesting to see over the past year or so Salesforce has really started looking at vertical growth through the finance cloud and health cloud offerings. It’s a nice start and hopefully if these are successful more will follow, but still no-where near SAPs 25 odd verticals. Salesforce has also focused its Health cloud around patient records but it will be interesting to see how this develops in 2017.

AI & Automation

I believe we are now in the age of automation. The landscape is changing and Salesforce is pushing that envelope around automation and AI for companies. Salesforce’s acquisitions into AI I think are a great step forward. But with AI comes collaboration of data to allow machine learning so for me there are still hurdles to overcome around privacy as well as cost.

Summary

It’s been a fun year, including all the other things I got up too, getting married, honeymoon and not to mention the charity work I’ve been doing as trustee of Baseless Fabric Theatre.

But, 2017 sees a change in direction for me which I’m announcing at London’s Calling on the 10th Feb. Onwards and upwards. Let’s make 2017 great again 😉

 

Events, General, Videos

Event Financing and Sponsorship, learning the hard way

We had no money, no experience running tech events, no speakers and 4 months to get the event up and running. But before reality set in we were sitting on a pier in San Francisco just before Dreamforce 2015 thinking it would be oh so easy!… or maybe it was the champagne that was talking?

I was invited to do a talk on Financing and sponsorship. I had only just got off the plane from New Zealand so I am a little jetlagged but hopefully, it’s useful for other people running tech events. Thanks to the rest of the winning LC2016 team: Jodi, Simon and Kerry

francis-tech-speaker

General

Why isn’t this Salesforce Working!? #Dreamforce Sessions

Sometimes when you work with Salesforce it can make you mad! But there is one part of Salesforce that Admin’s seem to avoid which can REALLY help you out. I can understand why they avoid it, but I think it’s one of the most useful parts of Salesforce. Salesforce is on a continual mission to reduce code and increase declarative development, but with that comes added complexities. Why didn’t my workflow or process run? Why did I update an account only to get an error from a completely different object?! In my Dreamforce session “An Admin’s Guide to the Developer Console” I lift the lid on what Salesforce is doing under the hood and how you can see what Salesforce is doing! Want to come along? I did this talk in London as a practice and this was the response: Read more

General

Serverless Technology is growing & Salesforce is joining up

The boasting of Dev & network operations has changed. They ask the question “How many servers do you have?” looking for an answer to see if they manage more servers than the other guy. The question has stayed the same, but the response has been turned on its head. Now if you are managing zero servers, you are some genius. This is the birth of Serverless and maybe the end of for physical and virtual servers for all of us (except for those in data centres).

Salesforce’s jump on to the AWS bandwagon

Back in May Salesforce announced that it had selected Amazon AWS as their preferred public cloud infrastructure provider. For me, this event was incredibly exciting as I work in both the Salesforce and AWS worlds (in fact as well as my Salesforce certifications I’m also an AWS Certifed Architect). They said this was to aid their international expansion at the launch, for their core services including Sales, Service, App Cloud, Community Cloud and Analytics cloud. Salesforce isn’t new to AWS; they have Heroku, Marketing Cloud Social Studio and SalesforceIQ all running on AWS (although mostly through acquisition). But the bread and butter of Salesforce is its core Force.com platform that powers the Sales and Service Clouds. This platform is all currently hosted in traditional data centres on their hardware and infrastructure. But now based on their statement, I’m thinking they are looking at moving to Serverless!

Salesforce invented “Platform as a Service.”

Read more

Events, General

My top tips for public speaking at Dreamforce

I’ve talked at a lot of tech events, but most of my talks are at Salesforce events (user groups, Salesforce World Tours, Dreamforce etc). This year will be my 5th year speaking at Salesforce’s largest customer event ‘Dreamforce’. With more than 150,000 heading to San Francisco for the event, it’s a BIG event. If you haven’t been yet its well worth the trip. With around 1600 breakout sessions for every role (Admin’s, Dev’s, Sales etc) and industry vertical you can think of there are still a lot of people going to the sessions.

Tell a story

Some of the best talks I’ve done and seen tell a story. Having a narrative going through your session builds, in my opinion, an excellent speech. I think it’s essential to inspire hope and confidence and tell the story as if you were talking to a friend. One of the best examples of this personal style is Bryan Stevenson TED talk on injustice. The security talk I did earlier in the year at Salesforce World Tour was quite an emotional subject for me as one of my friends had lost their life savings and another also lost money because they didn’t take necessary steps to protect themselves. I tried using a Narrative Arc in the talk, now this can be hard to implement in a product demo type talk but talking about Security allowed me a bit more flexibility. My goal was to educate the audience in security and protecting themselves as well as securing Salesforce. For me the structure was: Read more

General

Creativity is key to the future of our children

I straddle three strange worlds of Theatre, IT & investment. For the last couple of months I’ve been working in the theatrical and design world creating a mobile app for theatre with the help of students from University Art London, the University is amazing, bursting at the seams with creativity, but it got me thinking…

When I was growing up I (as with everyone) was stuck in the same education system which hadn’t changed since the Victorians. A system where the hierarchy of subjects was clear. Maths and sciences at the top followed by humanities, languages and finally the arts subjects. I remember the very day I was finally sold this idea. It was when I came to decide my A’Levels (16 years old ish), do I go the artist route and learn to act, etc? Or the IT route and do computing and Electronics? In the end, computing won the day. Yes, it has done me very well but with every passing day, I feel the subjects are upside down for our future children. If you haven’t seen it already check out Sir Ken Robinson’s: Do Schools Kill Creativity?

The Goldern Age of AI

We are now in an era where processors and sensors are cheap and after many failed attempts at AI over the years (Alan Turing even predicted that machines would be able to imitate humans by the year 2000), I believe we are now on the cusp of jumping forward in the AI industry. Just look at Google photo search! I can search for names of objects like “bridge” and up pops all the bridge photos I’ve ever taken!

“Machine learning is a core, transformative way by which we’re rethinking everything we’re doing.”
— Google CEO, Sundar Pichai

Salesforce Acquires PredictionIO

Salesforce is building up its Machine Learning Muscle and has recently acquired PredictionIO. PredictionIO is a machine learning tool that allows developers to create predictive features, such as personalisation, recommendation and content discovery. I believe this to be the key to the CRM of the future allowing the vast amounts of data that companies collect to be cross-referenced by AI and provide users with information to become more successful in selling and managing their customers.

Lack of front line jobs

McDonalds Pay points

McDonalds Pay points

For the show ‘A Secret Life‘ (see a trailer here) we interviewed nearly 200 people about their experiences as a teenager which were used to create the script for this outdoor promenade theatre show. We interviewed two age groups, teens of today and OAPs (aged 75 years+). We found that finding work in the 1920s was a lot easier to come across than now as well as a lot more pressure on children today to “do well at school”. If you wanted work in the 20s, you could just go down the road and ask, and those jobs went on to more skilled higher paid roles. But that’s not surprising when you see that nowadays companies are automating a lot of those accessible “front end desk jobs”, it’s cheaper to have a machine than a human doing the work. Take McDonalds for example; you can now choose, order and pay for your meal without even talking to any staff. When I’m at the supermarket, I sometimes find staff tills empty yet a queue for the automated tills?!. Are we being programmed that having the unpredictability of talking to another human at a supermarket too much for us to bear?

If it’s getting harder to get a leg up on the job ladder, shouldn’t we be teaching our children more about how to create their own jobs?

The shift to creativity

Glowforge.com - Reinventing homemade to allow home product production

Glowforge.com – Reinventing homemade to allow home product production

I feel now that creativity is more important than ever. It’s now become even easier to create creative products without the need of offshoring the production of the product allowing people to start their own micro-businesses. Just take a look at GlowForge! An amazing laser cutter tool to create and sell creative products from home. Brilliant for prototyping.

Want to get your kids involved in product creation check out the Mattel ThemeMaker!

I’ve found some countries educational systems and cultures don’t see creativity as an important part of education. I remember discussing this with someone who had recently moved to the UK and couldn’t understand why their child was “playing” so much at school. But it’s such an important part of education. Being able to play, experiment to come up with creative solutions when programming/developing solutions, and being able to think “outside the manual”.  to solve complex solutions in a simple way so that the end solutions are focused and targetted at the users who are using them.

I’ve worked with people who are technically brilliant but have hit a ceiling. They are missing the creativity to be able to think “outside the manual” to solve complex solutions in a simple, intuitive way. To be creative with the tools, APIs and technologies available to them. In my opinion, those who have that creative thinking are the gurus of their industry.