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Salesforce Dreamforce 2018: Day One Recap

As Dreamforce 2018 spins up we’re reminded of the speed at which technology and the Salesforce platform is evolving. In just a few short years the Salesforce ecosystem has fully embraced Lighting as both an experience and development platform.

Dreamforce is a key event for our team; it exposes our developers, architects, and administrators to the latest patterns and solutions that the platform and its partners can offer. Our first day has already been quite packed, learning about new tools – like MuleSoft – and in-depth session around Einstein and Lighting based solutions. We’re excited for what the week holds in store for our team and the insights we’ll be able to take back to our clients and partners.

Architecting End-to-end Einstein Solutions

We learned from Reinier van Leuken and Ed Sandoval, from the Netherlands, how to architect solutions that leverage the Einstein platform. They discussed how to assemble the Einstein suite of tools and technologies to solve specific business problems that rely on insights which would be otherwise hard to get: think time-consuming, resource-intensive data insights.

The Einstein suite of tools and capabilities can help take a large data set and discover patterns and insights that are statistically significant. It can help us decide which insights are particular and worthy of further analysis. It enables us to leverage the Salesforce platform to make such insights accessible to the right people in near real time. The Einstein suite of tools can drive business processes and workflows based on these insights.

The session highlighted a dataset involving 92 million records that were used to predict some really interesting insights for a grocery retailer such as what products aren’t selling as much, which store is doing much better from the rest and thus should be emulated across the Enterprise, which store format does consistently better, which products are likely to stock out and cause revenue left on the table, etc.

We took away from the session that there are less onerous or intimidating ways to leverage AI and supercharge parts of our client’s business. Using Einstein doesn’t have to be a major development project. Knowing how to assemble the tools could help visualize the one use case to start off a client’s AI journey.

Introduction to MuleSoft Anypoint Platform

Salesforce is not the only game in town when it comes to the number of systems and platforms in a typical Enterprise application network. Often Salesforce comes to the party late, as the newbie. Apart from the usual sales, service and marketing use cases that Salesforce is so good at, MuleSoft offers the potential of delivering a consistent, integrated and delightful customer experience across any touch point with the customer regardless of where the data resides across the application network. Even better it offers the potential to make Salesforce the UX layer on top of legacy systems and to help deliver incredible experiences to employees and customers alike.

MuleSoft can simplify and compose, deploy and discovery Enterprise-wide APIs across the Enterprise application network. It enables our client’s to create integrated experiences easier and not be intimidated by it. Integrations with legacy systems do not need to be big long projects anymore. Delivering integrated experiences through the Enterprise and your customer community is closer within reach than you think using MuleSoft.

Advanced Lightning Components Session

It’s the first day of Dreamforce, and this is my fifth year in a row attending. It’s amazing how much it has grown in that time. For the developer sessions, there’s one speaker, Christophe Coenrates, who always puts together informative talks. I was eager to attend his session entitled, “Advanced Lightning Components.” It was a mix of currently available functionality and forward-looking features scheduled for upcoming releases.

One of the challenges when building Lightning components is how to avoid writing duplicate code within components with shared business logic. By utilizing static resources and the <ltng:require> tag, developers can now write their business logic in one place and reuse it in multiple components.

The session kicked off with a few examples of how developers can store their shared business logic inside a static resource. One of the challenges when building Lightning components is how to avoid writing duplicate code within components with shared business logic. By utilizing static resources and the <ltng:require> tag, developers can now write their business logic in one place and reuse it in multiple components. An example was shown where a mortgage calculator was displayed through two separate components. Both components produced the same results because they were using code that was shared within a static resource. This allows developers to follow the “once and only once” rule of writing modular code.

Christophe showed how caching in Lightning components can reduce the loading time of a component. He showed an example where pagination was used and timed the results it took for each page to display to the user.  The pages that had already been visited were able to render much faster than the pages the user hadn’t visited yet.  This brought up an interesting dilemma, as there’s no guarantee that the results from the cache will be accurate the second time they are viewed.  It becomes a question of what’s more valuable: completely accurate results or returning the results quickly and recalculating the accurate results later.

Next, the discussion moved towards a topic I was much more familiar with as I am presenting a session on the topic at Dreamforce called, “Custom Record Forms In a Flash, with the Lightning Data Service.”  The presenter mentioned how the <lightning:recordForm> component can be utilized to allow the user to edit fields on a parent record.  For example, from a contact record, I can place a <lightning:recordForm> on the page that displays fields from its account.  I can then edit the account fields from the contact record page.  This functionality didn’t exist in Salesforce Classic, and it allows users to remain on a contact record while reading or editing the related account.

Finally, an upcoming feature presented is called Live Records. If a record is changed by a user while a separate user is viewing the record, the record will update immediately in the second user’s screen without having to refresh the page. This ensures that users are always viewing the most up to date data in Salesforce at any moment.

The Advanced Lightning Components session is a popular one, and though it appears at every Dreamforce, it’s always different enough to warrant placing it on your list of sessions to attend, as it gets modified to show off the latest updates to Lightning.  I’m eager to start using some of these new features.

Emerging Trends

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will start playing a critical role in business processes, which will require Salesforce Consultants to have a thorough understanding of the capabilities and limitations of AI.

Salesforce sees clearly that we are currently in the 4th Technology Revolution. They anticipate that technological change will never be slower. With this revolution, we see there are various fronts that require collaboration and focus. Artificial Intelligence will start playing a critical role in business processes, which will require Salesforce Consultants to have a thorough understanding of the capabilities and limitations of AI. For many years, the focus was generally placed on sourcing and exposing data in an integrated manner — providing more data to users. We now see a shift to providing users with actionable and relevant data, rather than presenting any all data available to a user.

Our clients will soon have in their hands on an extremely powerful set of AI tools right within the Salesforce Platform. Our team is working diligently to gain experience and mastery of the AI tools we can use to enhance our client’s business applications. We envision AI playing a role in the majority of our client’s projects and will be relevant to clients big and small. Our team is excited to be a part of the 4th Industrial Revolution, and we’re looking forward to bringing our clients into the next generation of the Salesforce Platform.

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