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#DF13 through the eyes of a UK #Salesforce MVP

Precursive asked me to interview for a blog post they were doing all around Dreamforce. It’s just gone live so check it out:

#DF13 through the eyes of a UK MVP

Francis Pindar Salesforce MVPAhead of #DF13 we caught up with Francis Pindar, a freelance Salesforce.com technical consultant and Salesforce.com MVP. He’ll be heading across the pond for Dreamforce for the third time this year, so we jumped at the opportunity to pick his brain before the event!

Francis, the #DF13 theme is the Customer Company Revolution. What does that mean to you?

The customer is getting more power over the company – so for me it’s around bringing the customer closer to the company, and also bringing more information and data to companies’ fingertips. People are getting more impatient and wanting to get answers more quickly, so they’ll jump to the community on the internet or they’ll search on the internet for their answer, before going to talk to the company – it’s a huge change.

Can you give us an example?

Salesforce.com do it really well actually on success.salesforce.com, where the community is answering questions for their customers.

There are 100 MVPs around the world now, all running user groups and helping out on different forums on the internet. As MVPs, we’re going out there and helping all these customers (for free!) – and they’re helping us to engage with their customers more effectively. It’s not just success.salesforce.com either – there are other forums like StackExchange for developers where you get the Force.com MVPs answering more technical questions.

It makes sense – all these passionate users who love your service and want to help other people, it makes sense to give us a hand to make it easier and to make them support your customers even more.

Where else have you seen the customer company revolution in action?

Social media — passionate users are jumping on tweets and social media things that are happening, that the company probably can’t see or respond to all the time, to help people who have their wires crossed or just need a hand with something.

Occasionally in recruitment too — recently somebody posted that they were looking for a Salesforce.com job in Toronto on Salesforce forum. One of the MVPs there knew a company who was looking for a Salesforce.com admin so he tied the two together. The guy went to the company, had the interview and now I believe has a job!

It’s little things like that — the community helping out in anyway they can, getting people jobs, solving support issues and even writing code and helping companies to grow.

What other trends are you keeping an eye on at #DF13?

Salesforce.com is becoming more specialized – it used to be CRM for sales and marketing. But now usage of Salesforce is changing, its being used a lot more as a platform to develop things and run other applications on rather than just using the core functionality. That’s definitely a trend I’ve been seeing.

Definitely the mobile side is going to be a lot bigger this year too. Just look at the stats, the number of people using their mobile as a first port of call to find information is huge – people should be focusing on mobile first, creating those apps and creating those websites that are mobile friendly. That’s where people are looking for information first.

Are there events or sessions you’re particularly looking forward to?

True to the Core is a good session. It’s basically about looking at the platform and examining those niggles that have been around for donkey’s years and should be fixed or work better. It’s about looking at the core functionality of Salesforce.com that everybody uses and how to improve that, rather than focusing on ‘hey we’ve just launched a new thing’ additions. As a result last year, Salesforce did a big push for getting some of the niggles released and fixed. You suddenly got these issues that had been there on the platform for absolutely ages getting fixed!

With my developer hat on I’ve got to say my sessions of course!

What sessions are you doing?

I’m doing ‘Salesforce Integration’, which is basically looking at how you integrate into salesforce from a high level, doing mashups on the UI, then looking at how to integrate on the application level with apex, and then looking at integrating the database layer, with different example apps that you could use.

I’m also doing The ‘Apex Ten Commandments’, which grew from a rant of a tweet that I put up, and a few people replied and all of a sudden I’m hosting this session, which should be good fun! It’s for people who have been developing with Apex, or are just starting out as beginners.

My final one is ‘Formula Ninjas’, which stars Steve Molis (SteveMo), one of the greatest contributors to success.salesforce.com. It’s teaching people about formulas and how you can do them differently — straight formula fields, creating formulas to do funky things or things you may not necessarily have used formulas for in the past.

If you could do just one thing at Dreamforce, what would it be?

Wow, hard question – so many things! It’s broken into zones this year – a community zone, a development zones, a couple of others. I would come and hang out in the community zone where all the MVPs will be staffing the genius bar where you can get all your questions answered. We’re doing talks there, ButtonClickAdmin will be there doing podcasts throughout the week too. We’re all manning it at different times of the day so you’ll always find someone to help!

Anything else we should know ahead of the event?

One thing I would say is if you’re not a developer, go to the developer zone to go out of your comfort zone. Even if it’s just for one session – it’s good to get a feel of the different parts of Salesforce.com because it’s become so big. Don’t keep to your own track of sessions!

Also don’t do too much – there’s a feeling of need to cram in lots of different sessions. But actually just walking around taking to people and networking can be ten times more valuable than going to a session.

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