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Sarah Franklin on Delivering a Virtual Event with Community and Collaboration at its Core

Overnight, companies have had to reimagine and pivot their businesses in response to COVID-19. A full 51% of people have shifted to work-from-home since the pandemic began, and organizations that once focused primarily on brick-and-mortar are now having to rethink that approach.

As EVP & GM of Platform, Trailhead, and AppExchange at Salesforce, Sarah Franklin is focused on supporting developers as they go through this pivot, evolving their businesses to an all-digital, work from anywhere model — and doing it fast.

The pandemic turned digital transformations into digital imperatives (69% of people say it will permanently change the nature of work), condensing multi-year processes into sprints where developers bear the brunt of the load and need to make these transformations happen overnight. “Companies need to build solutions in days, not months, without sacrificing security, scalability, or quality,” says Sarah.

TrailheaDX, Salesforce’s major developer conference, is traditionally one of the venues where the developer community comes together to find and develop solutions to new challenges. With COVID-19 however, TrailheaDX and all the other in-person events that foster this sense of connection and support are obviously out of the question.

In response, Sarah and her team have built a fully virtual TrailheaDX to deliver on the key elements to help everyone learn, connect, give back, and have fun together.

Q. What is TrailheaDX?

TrailheaDX is Salesforce’s annual developer conference for anyone looking to grow their Salesforce skillset and innovate with the Salesforce Customer 360 Platform. In the past it has been a multi-day event that we’ve run in San Francisco. COVID-19 means that for our fifth installment, we’ll be completely re-imagining the event as a virtual experience on June 25th.

We’ll still have a fantastic keynote where we’ll hear from customers and Trailblazers who are rapidly building solutions for their businesses in our new normal; we’ll have customized role-based channels for developers, admins and architects; and live Q&A sessions with Salesforce execs like Parker Harris and Bret Taylor, as well as product managers and engineers..

And we know TrailheaDX doesn’t exist in a vacuum. This event will take place during a period in which racial injustices are at the top of the agenda for everyone. We’ll be hosting a fireside chat with a luminary to address this issue directly.

Q. What are the opportunities as TrailheaDX goes virtual?

The most exciting opportunity to me is the removal of barriers to entry for our community. TrailheaDX is for the first time open to everyone, across the world, for free.

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.

Now, everybody in the world can have access to the developers who build Salesforce products. People can tap into all of this expertise from anywhere, and that’s a key thing for me: bringing the whole community together globally.

So in addition to the insights you’ll get from our speakers, attendees can participate in more than 40 sessions geared towards their areas of focus – whether they are a developer, architect, entrepreneur, or admin – as they plan for the present and future of their organizations. What’s more, they can connect with Salesforce experts, network with their peers, and skill-up – just as they always have at past TrailheaDX events.

Q. As a virtual event, how are you working to maintain the sense of community that has always set TrailheaDX apart?

I’m fortunate that I get to spend so much time listening to and learning from our Trailblazer Community. And it’s really clear to me how much that community needs each other right now. And for me personally, I am committed to listening, learning, and being an active ally and taking action that drives impactful change.

TrailheaDX is always a key gathering point for our community, and a huge focus this year has been to ensure that sense of community is maintained.

That’s why we’re making sure that every one of our main sessions will have live chat capabilities throughout, with our product managers and subject matter experts actively engaging with the people tuning in. I am hoping we can listen and learn from each other, and bring in perspectives from thought leaders to enlighten us.

We’re also hosting Ask the Experts sessions for attendees to deep-dive with product managers on topics ranging from how to deploy AI and flow capabilities without the need to code, to developer-centric sessions on how to take advantage of serverless functions so you can scale with confidence.

Our True to the Core session will still offer attendees an open forum to provide direct feedback to our executives and product leaders on what they’d like the future of the Salesforce Platform to be. These have historically been a fan favorite.

Finally, giving back to the community has always been a core part of TrailheaDX, and this year we will be hosting a career fair with five different workforce development organizations to bring new talent into the Salesforce ecosystem – PepUp Tech, Supermums, MomRelaunch, Pi-TaP and Climb Hire.

Q. What sort of content will TrailheaDX include this year?

Our sessions will be part of a tightly-edited and extremely focused line up, optimized for virtual delivery. We’ve spent hours speaking with our community and reviewing feedback from sessions held in past years. The result is a pared down agenda of the 40 or so most impactful sessions on the most relevant topics.

We’ll be offering four tracks, for each of the four main types of attendee at TrailheaDX. Developer content will include sessions on topics like how to leverage APIs, work in dev languages like Apex, and utilize our Lightning Web Components. Topics like working with Flow and App Builder and how to use Tableau will be part of our admin-focused track. Data governance, creating business continuity plans, and the future of headless commerce form the backbone of our architect-centric sessions. And for our community and ecosystem members, we’ll be hosting sessions on topics like building a sustainable business on the AppExchange, and the skills you’ll need for the ‘new normal’ on Trailhead.

Yes, it’s gone virtual but regardless, TrailheaDX 2020 is shaping up to be a fantastic event. We hope to see you there.

Check out the TrailheaDX page to register and to learn more about what promises to be an amazing event:


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