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Innovation Through Change: Highlights From TrailheaDX ’20

TrailheaDX ‘20

In its fifth year, TrailheaDX (TDX) was reimagined as a brand new virtual experience. Salesforce admins, developers, architects, and partners gathered to see the latest innovations, learn new skills, connect with old and new friends, have fun, and give back.

“If you’re watching in Morocco, you’re going to have the same experience as someone in San Francisco. That’s never happened before, and that’s really exciting,”— Sarah Franklin, EVP and GM Platform, Trailhead and AppExchange, Salesforce

TrailheadDX (TDX) — our annual event for anyone wanting to grow their Salesforce skill set — has always served as a key gathering point for our community. Trailblazers from all over the world come together to see the latest innovations, learn new skills, connect with old and new friends, have fun, and give back. But with COVID-19, in-person events are now out of the question.

Still, it was important for the show to go on. “Companies need to build solutions in days, not months, without sacrificing security, scalability, or quality,” says Sarah Franklin. We had pivoted an event before; now we had more of the mechanics down, and we needed to ensure the sense of community was maintained. In its fifth year, TDX was reimagined as a brand-new virtual experience. Inspired by the best broadcast tactics (think live sports and late-night television), TDX gathered viewers across 136 countries to participate in role-based programming, live chats, on-demand demos, episodic sessions, and Trailblazers hanging out together in digital lounges. Here are some of the highlights:

Brick Designer Aaron Newman reveals a 4,000 piece LEGO Codey the Bear
statue he built live during the broadcast

Did you miss the livestream? Want to see your favorite part again? Watch now.

Take action and drive change

The injustice and inequality the Black community continually faces was top of mind for TDX attendees.

Academy Award- and Grammy-winning artist Jennifer Hudson kicked off the day. Her stirring musical performance inspired and comforted viewers alike. “If you’re with us, put your hands up,” Hudson encouraged viewers.

After the TDX community took a moment of silence to reflect on how to take action to move toward racial equality and make change, Franklin shared she wanted to focus on removing barriers to the tech industry by making a platform that’s accessible for all.

Award-winning comedian and The Daily Show host Trevor Noah also shared his perspective on the power businesses have to create change instead of perpetuating inequality. “If companies want to say Black Lives Matter, they need to look within. Look at leadership. Who gets promoted and why? Who gets hired and why? Where do you look for people and why,” he said. Pulling from his experience growing up in South Africa during apartheid, Noah discussed why he thinks many Americans are unaware of systematic racism. “[In South Africa,] aparthied was explicit. The rules were written down. We learned about it in school. In America it’s implicit. People won’t acknowledge it, but it’s there and people feel it instead.”

At Salesforce, we believe that business is a powerful platform for change, so we recently launched our Racial Equality and Justice Task Force to help drive systemic change in our workplace and community. For example:

Our task force focuses on four areas: People, Purchasing, Philanthropy, and Policy. These are based on the insights Ariel Investments’ President and Co-CEO Mellody Hobson shared that every company needs to focus on. That’s why we’re committed to giving back to the community and leading our philanthropy efforts with a racial equality lens. We brought together equality and recruiting this year. We’re excited to launch the Salesforce Talent Alliance, helping partners and customers gain access to diverse candidates in our ecosystem. Together, we can elevate Black voices, foster inclusive hiring practices, and take action to move toward racial equality and justice.

Innovate fast — from anywhere

During this time, companies are learning how to lead through change. As we know, we are also experiencing a global pandemic which has transformed how we work and live overnight. Millions of people found themselves sheltering at home, but continuing to live their lives: attending school, shopping, talking with friends, and working.

We discovered that with the right tools, we really could stay connected while separated. There are new ways of working and collaborating. And there’s no going back to the way things were anymore. 70% of people believe the pandemic will permanently change the nature of work. More than 50% say flexible work locations are very important to them. An all-digital, work-from-anywhere world is becoming the new normal.

“One of the things this pandemic has taught us is companies have to enable their employees to sell, service, and market from anywhere, and that won’t change in a post-pandemic world. With Salesforce Anywhere we’re enabling companies of every size, location, and industry to digitally transform with confidence.” — Bret Taylor, President and COO, Salesforce.

Sun Basket, a food delivery service, experienced the need to innovate and scale quickly due to shelter-in-place orders. With more people cooking, they saw their customer base double and experienced surges in case volume. Using the Customer 360 platform and Einstein Bots, they were able to expand their chatbot program fast. By using web components (think of them as building blocks), they could bind components to their content management system and link chatbots to their community portal to serve customers 24/7.

Similarly, financial technology provider nCino was able to scale with confidence, knowing their infrastructure could handle it. When they saw the financial impacts caused by the pandemic, they sprang into action. Getting funds from the paycheck protection program (PPP) and other money to customers was the priority. They used the DevOps Center to collaborate and build apps. Using pre-built components and existing AppExchange components sped development since they weren’t starting from scratch. All changes could be made with clicks or code. And because security and compliance checks are already built into the platform, they could focus on delivering innovation.

Salesforce Anywhere wasn’t the only exciting news revealed at TDX. Viewers learned about a partnership with Tanium to develop an employee service solution to deliver modern employee experiences. With this solution, IT teams can have complete visibility and control of all their employees’ devices and services on their network. Trailblazers also got a sneak peek of more ways to build and deliver connected digital experiences from anywhere via a web-based developer environment and the ability to build serverless apps on top of Salesforce using already-known languages.

Read all of the announcements unveiled at TrailheaDX.

Trailblazers are equipped to adapt and thrive

We’ve been through a lot these past few months, adapting to new living and working situations. But Trailblazers are the ones best equipped to tackle any challenge and can mobilize quickly. For example, during TDX alone, Trailblazers raised $250,000 to benefit the World Food Program*, demonstrating their commitment to giving back. Across our ecosystem, Trailblazers have risen to innovate, give back to their communities, and guide businesses to reopen safely.

For instance, take new golden-hoodie recipient Justin Smith who, due to the pandemic, had extra time to take on a project helping a group of nonprofits build a regional command center. Smith knew he could work quickly to build an app, but it also had to be able to scale. Using our Salesforce Care solutions, the team spun up an org within three hours. Within three days, they built a solution with Amazon voice capability, Facebook Messenger integration, and more.

Smith is an active Ranger within the Trailblazer Community — the top achievement on our free online learning platform, Trailhead. He’s answered almost 700 platform-related questions from other users and has contributed suggestions to the IdeaExchange, our community portal to suggest new features. Like many fellow Trailblazers, Smith learned his way around Salesforce by getting hands-on with the developer edition, and through Trailhead. Helpful resources like Trailhead are powerful for anyone looking to learn more in-demand skills employers need — and because it’s web-based, you can skill up from anywhere.

Staying connected and embracing change

More than ever before, it’s important for us to come together and communicate. While we might not all be in the same rooms and spaces anymore, the ability to stay connected with customers, partners, colleagues, friends, and loved ones is the priority — no matter where we are. For businesses, there’s no more putting off “going digital” — it’s here whether we’re prepared or not. Our admins, developers, architects, and partners are paving the way.

We have an unprecedented opportunity to embrace change. To discover new ways of working; to enable a more diverse workforce. Let’s navigate the new normal, together.

*Through July 31, 2020, Salesforce will be matching donations up to a total of $150,000 USD. Donate here or text WFPUSA to 243-725 to help feed those in need.

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