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4 Lessons for IT Leaders on Creating Connections at Scale

A Trailblazer’s perspective on how connection multiplies impact at a leading hybrid technology conference.

people collaborating and gathered around a table with notebooks and smartphones on the table
Reflections on the power of community in the developer community.[Jelena Jojic Tomic/Stocksy]

How do you pivot 171,000 people to an in-person environment during a global pandemic? The answer is, you don’t. You innovate.

Dreamforce, which typically draws hundreds of thousands of people all over the world to the streets of San Francisco, transformed to a hybrid environment. I was fortunate enough to be one of the 500 Trailblazers invited to attend in person, and am excited to share some key takeaways, in case you missed it.

1. Connected purpose: Technology unites us for necessary global change

As a senior consultant with over a decade of leveraging technology for social good, I know the power of relationships to multiply impact. Early in the opening keynote, Marc Benioff called out five crises that the world is facing right now: trust, workforce, inequality, climate, and the pandemic.

We can’t correct what we don’t confront. And in acknowledging these crises, the stage was set to show how Salesforce, its partners, and the wider Trailblazer Community are positioned to pioneer business as a platform for change.

A hybrid experience was networking without bounds. It allowed people to gather safely, connect deeply, and continue to learn from each other — no matter where in the world they were tuning in from.

2. Connected systems: Democratized tech begins with design in mind

With this model, our Trailblazers in India didn’t need to be up all night to catch the material being delivered in San Francisco’s morning. The 125 hours of virtual content created a kind of knowledge equity that didn’t exist before.

This is a necessary mindset for IT leaders to adopt when guiding their organizations because it paints a broad picture of how form can meet function to achieve a goal. As leaders, our aim is always to deconstruct silos, make work more efficient and enjoyable, and produce incredible results. 

The best technology is incomplete without the best security.

One of my favorite sessions was the IT Leader’s Guide to the Salesforce Platform Roadmap because it showed practical application of this through products. I learned:

  • Why Salesforce chose Slack-first rhythms for company communication
  • How to better support alignment across teams, manage deliverables, and make work more productive through one consolidated view with DevOps Center
  • That the components of an app can be even more seamless when they automatically talk with each other, such as in Dynamic Interactions
  • New ways to simplify business processes by pairing point-and-click automation and low code together using Salesforce Flow Orchestrator

And all of this continued to reinforce the mindset that unifying people through technology — even in how the technology itself is built — is crucial to driving change.

3. Connected safety: Continuous innovation is key to scale securely

Marc spoke in his keynote on how every business is responsible for being a trusted entity in today’s global economy. I take this quite seriously because my passion is to give people the best technology to move their mission forward. The best technology is incomplete without the best security.

In the session, “Secure Your Data on the World’s #1 Trusted Platform,” I learned about the responsibility we have as leaders to empower our organizations with built-in safety. We live in a circular economy, which means we all play a part in what we create and put out into the world. 

We do this through things like:

  • Securing systems from the ground up, so there are no leaks
  • Having backup and restore programs in place so data is protected under most any circumstance
  • Partnering with compliance rules so that companies can scale with confidence

Later on, Parker Harris and Srini Tallapragada elaborated on this topic of security at scale when they discussed Hyperforce: the next-generation infrastructure architecture that partners with public clouds to bring secure solutions all over the world.

Hendy Wiebe, who manages cloud services at Humana, put it this way: “Continuous improvement and monitoring is at the center of everything we do.”

Security never sleeps. Neither does the modern-day quest to scale. This sense of security at scale rings true because — at the end of the day — everyone is a security advocate.

4. Connected future: Automation accelerates you to where you want to be

My last takeaway was how expansive automation can be at taking businesses to the next level. I knew automation could remove little tasks from my plate, but was surprised how it can integrate into everything to change the nature of work. 

Artificial intelligence helps teams know where to focus their efforts.

Automation is so crucial for improving companies on a systemic level. I saw this with the example of users being too busy (or too unaware) to report opportunities for innovation. This stunts company growth. Artificial intelligence, on the other hand, helps teams know where to focus their efforts. It automatically identifies whether a problem is a one-off occurrence or consistent, and the analytics address which issues will have the greatest impact once solved. Not only is the company as a whole more refined to serve customers but also it makes for a more enjoyable — and profitable — employee experience.

Connections remain timeless: No matter the crisis or challenge

Even though we had to swab our noses daily, it was worth it to be there in person. Sure, the Foo Fighters were great. But if these technological teachings were limited to just the onsite attendees or live broadcasts, it wouldn’t have been as meaningful.

As humans, we have a desire to share, to connect, to come together. And what this Dreamforce did was bring that impact back to communities in real ways — by keeping the learning on demand for anyone in the world who needs it.

Skye Tyler is a senior consultant at Exponent Partners who is passionate about the role that nonprofits play in our communities and believes they should have access to the best technology to better meet their missions. She has been implementing nonprofits onto the Salesforce platform since 2015. She is also a member of the Salesforce Military community and a volunteer at Merivis, supporting veterans and military spouses transitioning to tech jobs.

More by Skye

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