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Something big happened in the realm of digital content this year: Twitter increased its character limit from 140 to 280. Does this mean online readers’ attention spans have magically doubled? Not likely. There will always be people who only skim headlines, and there will always be those who enjoy curling up with a good, long read to understand the details. This post is for Trailblazers in the latter group.

Over the course of 2017, Salesforce  produced a lot of content designed to bring our Trailblazers the knowledge they seek — which makes it hard to recommend just three things. But we’ve boiled it down to top recommendations that will help you blaze new trails in 2018.

Here are 3 must-reads to help you blaze a trail in 2018 [click to tweet]:

 

1. We Are All Trailblazers

 

Last week, we heard from these 9 Trailblazers on what #BlazingTrails means to them. One common theme among the definitions is a sense of leadership and adventure. And last month, we had the awesome opportunity to gather with over 170,000 Trailblazers for our annual Dreamforce event.

Every year since 2003, Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff shares Salesforce’s vision for the future and announces key innovations to our Customer Success Platform. This year’s keynote was no exception, sharing inspiration, entertainment, and education with our Trailblazers in-person and online — where 10+ million tuned in.

The highlights of this keynote have been captured in the “We Are All Trailblazers” e-book. Put this on your reading list to catch up on hot topics like:

  • The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the connected customer

  • The latest on Trailhead, Einstein, Lightning, and more

  • How Trailblazers are driving customer success


2. The AI Revolution

 

Today’s kindergarten students will never know a world without artificial intelligence (AI), thanks to Apple’s Siri. My own kids don’t think twice about asking our Amazon Echo, “Alexa, call Santa.”

These new but common technologies have put the power of AI into the hands of every consumer. Unsurprisingly, our expectations for smarter business interactions are rising. Trailblazing companies are likewise finding new opportunities to leverage AI to improve everything from customer experience to internal operations.

“The AI Revolution” is based on surveys of thousands of consumers and business professionals. It’s a data-driven look into how AI is transforming customer expectations — and how Trailblazing sales, service, and marketing teams are shifting their strategies and technology stacks in response. If you’ve had questions about AI’s impact on your business in the coming years, this is worth a read. 

 

3. State of [Your Role Here]

 

Well, we may be cheating with this third recommendation because it’s more than just one report. For the last four years, the Salesforce Research team has been on a mission to hear directly from Trailblazers around the world about trends shaping the future of business. Over the past 18 months, we’ve surveyed more than 11,500 professionals covering sales, service, marketing, and IT.

These studies give an in-depth look at what’s top of mind for leaders across the business:

State of Sales. Stats you’ll find inside:

  • 73% of sales professionals say collaborating across departments is absolutely critical or very important to their overall sales process [click to tweet]

  • Triple-digit growth is expected for sales teams’ adoption of artificial intelligence (139%), predictive intelligence (118%), and automated lead-to-cash processes (115%) over the next three years

State of Service. Stats you’ll find inside:

  • 70% of service teams say their strategic vision over the past 12–18 months has become more focused on creating deeper customer relationships [click to tweet]

  • High-performing service teams are 3.9x more likely than underperformers to say predictive intelligence will have a transformational impact on their customer service by 2020

State of Marketing. Stats you’ll find inside:

  • High-performing marketers are 2.2x more likely than underperformers to use AI in their marketing campaigns [click to tweet]

  • On average, marketing leaders today say 34% of their budget is spent on channels they didn’t know existed five years ago

State of IT. Stats you’ll find inside:

  • Three-quarters of tech leaders say IT is in the midst of the biggest historical shift of its role [click to tweet]

  • Top IT teams are 3.5x more likely than underperforming teams to say it’s a critical priority to innovate for industry disruption

Whether on a plane, car, or train, if you have downtime this holiday season, check out these must-reads to blaze your trail in 2018.

Don't miss other posts in the “12 Days of Trailblazing” series:

2 Secrets for Acing Your Salesforce Certification Exam
1 Big Thank You to Our Trailblazers