TrailblazerDX is a prominent occasion marked on the Salesforce calendar for new, seasoned, and upcoming Trailblazers. It truly is a flagship Salesforce event.
It unites ‘builders,’ such as admins, developers, architects, and other professionals, motivating them to revolutionize their respective businesses using the Salesforce platform.
This year's event took place from March 7 to 8, 2023, at the Moscone West Convention Center in the hustle and bustle of downtown San Francisco.
At TrailblazerDX, the focus lies on the more technical facets of Salesforce, often involving in-depth exploration of features, product demonstrations, product development roadmaps, and exciting announcements.
Our Co-Founder and CPO – Harald Mayer – was in the front row of some of the main keynotes of TrailblazerDX 2023. So, let’s look at some of the biggest Salesforce development trends he learned about.
Salesforce has introduced Einstein GPT, an advanced solution that offers auto-generated artificial intelligence (AI) content directly within the Salesforce platform. Einstein GPT is a game-changing CRM for Salesforce users as it puts the ever-growing development trend of automation directly into the hands of teams.
It automates and supports several use cases, such as:
During the keynote at Trailblazer, Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI and vendor of ChatGPT, expressed his support for the new technology. In addition, OpenAI and Slack unveiled a new service distinct from Einstein GPT.
The use of AI in the Salesforce ecosystem is crucial as it creates a space where teams can generate AI-generated content, which is continuously updated to adapt to changing customer information and needs, thus saving considerable time.
The tool aims to put Salesforce users in the middle by leveraging technology to help teams do their jobs more efficiently.
The private AI models are those that are developed by Salesforce, which organizations can leverage through the features of the Einstein technology layer.
OpenAI's ChatGPT is also integrated into Einstein GPT, thanks to the partnership between Salesforce and OpenAI, providing teams with out-of-the-box generative AI capabilities through direct access to OpenAI's enterprise-grade ChatGPT technology.
Moreover, Einstein GPT is open and extensible, enabling users to use it with external models.
The data is fed into these models in real-time from the Salesforce ‘cloud’ and the Salesforce Data Cloud (previously known as Genie) to ingest, harmonize, and unify all of your company's customer data.
Image Source: Salesforce
It is clear that Git-based development is becoming mainstream with the introduction of Salesforce’s DevOps Center. There has been a lot of interest in the Salesforce DevOps Center, particularly among newer Trailblazers, admins, and Flow users.
The Salesforce DevOps Center serves as a central hub for release management, providing both low-code and pro-code development teams with a unified configuration and codebase, thereby fostering closer collaboration.
While using the benefits of version control for handling Salesforce metadata isn’t new, it was only with the arrival of Salesforce DX, scratch orgs, and second-generation managed packages (2GP) that it saw more traction within the Salesforce ecosystem.
Working Git-based development opens the door for all kinds of automation, such as running automated code quality checks, executing test automation (on the front end or by conducting unit tests), and automating the deployment.
With its point-and-click interface, it replaces change sets and enables effortless deployment of changes.
The Salesforce DevOps Center fosters a closer relationship between declarative, low-code, no-code developers (and admins), and pro-code developers, allowing them to collaborate more effectively and apply DevOps best practices while working with a unified set of configuration and code.
This promotes greater compatibility and collaboration across all functions, including:
According to Karen Fidelak, the Product Manager of the Salesforce DevOps Center, the platform is geared towards introducing DevOps best practices to the entire community, regardless of their position on the low-code to pro-code spectrum.
The platform aims to drive modern best practices, such as source control, into the deployment approach.
Traditionally, pro-code developers have been comfortable using command-line interfaces (CLI) and writing scripts to commit changes to source control systems like GitHub.
Although adopting the DevOps Center may entail changes in the way admins develop straight into production or use change sets to move metadata changes between sandboxes and production, using the DevOps Center or other products that support Git-based development – like Hutte – have enormous benefits.
It's important to note that Salesforce has improved what they offer in terms of application lifecycle management and deployment support, but it has still left many vital gaps for the ecosystem of Salesforce DevOps solutions out there to close.
Fidelak shared several items on the DevOps Center roadmap. These included:
Salesforce is credited with advancing and popularizing the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model more than any other enterprise IT company. However, it has always relied on partnerships to succeed.
By broadening the reach of its products and integrating them more deeply into users' essential business processes, AppExchange helped cement Salesforce's position as a leading provider of sales management software.
Despite its declining prominence as Salesforce has expanded, partnering with AppExchange remains a crucial trend for independent software vendors (ISVs) seeking to access the customer base of one of the most prominent names in enterprise software.
With Salesforce Data Cloud, it will rely heavily on the thriving community of app developers it has spent the last 20 years cultivating through AppExchange.
Their goal is to give the marketplace the attention it deserves by delivering and announcing needed innovations.
Innovations such as revamping and upgrading security and UI to make it more user-friendly for ISVs.
The latest addition to the family of Salesforce characters is Flo, who, according to its creators, has everything to do with a flying squirrel. Flo represents Salesforce's automation for its users, Salesforce Flow, and shares similar traits to Salesforce teams – agile, hard-working, and always ready to go to new heights.
Yvette Henderson, Senior Project Manager for Salesforce, shared that the team gave a tech product a real-life persona. Samantha Mannis, Copywriter for the creative team, added that they are linking an actual product to real-world characteristics.
Project Manager, Kate Davis, shared that Flo was carefully selected to represent the trend of automation, embodying the concept of taking swift action and delivering repeatable results.
Furthermore, nine out of ten employees report to Salesforce that automation improves their job satisfaction and work-life balance, leading to higher retention rates and less turnover.
With automation, teams can communicate and collaborate more effectively, maximizing their digital environment. Flo simplifies automation and helps businesses develop a unified, productive community.
Automation, like squirrels, is the glue across departments, bringing teams closer together and allowing them to work more efficiently. Introducing automation increases collaboration satisfaction by 90%, which is truly impressive.
Salesforce has also announced that more than 900 out-of-the-box Flow templates are available, which can help you build and automate faster. This, like the introduction of Flo, appeals to the rising trend and need for automation within Salesforce.
As an added benefit, these templates follow best practices and streamline business processes, making it easier for your team to get started.
The trend of free user licenses has been circulating as Trailblazer community members and members in other Salesforce groups have expressed their concerns over it.
While having a license per API and integration is best practice, the cost of licenses makes it challenging to purchase licenses for various APIs and integrations.
Enterprise, Performance, and Unlimited edition orgs will receive five free Salesforce Integration User Licenses, with additional licenses billed at $10 each. This news is fantastic for organizations and teams looking to enhance their control and visibility over each API.
The founder of Salesforce, Parker Harris, also made a clear statement that Salesforce’s core values are to continue supporting NGOs (especially when it comes to licenses).
Salesforce has launched Trailhead Coach to equip Salesforce teams needing guided paths when it comes to personalized learning. This is in response to the development trend of upskilling Salesforce users to be able to operate the platform in both code and no-code environments.
Trailhead Coach has insightful content, free certification exams, and automatic access to job interviews with Salesforce customers and partners.
This initiative aims to prepare job seekers for new careers and provide companies with qualified talent, thus furthering Salesforce's efforts to close the digital skills gap.
With Trailhead Coach, anyone pursuing a career in the Salesforce ecosystem can access a free, skills-based learning path that culminates in automatic job interviews. This is crucial as 75% of businesses report difficulties recruiting qualified talent.
At the same time, job seekers require opportunities like Trailhead Coach to develop new skills and gain experience for future in-demand jobs. As the digital-first world continues to evolve, reskilling has become crucial.
“We take pride in leading the charge to bridge the skills gap and empower the next generation of Salesforce talent to drive success in their organizations.” Ann Weeby, SVP of Trailhead at Salesforce, expressed.
Over five million Trailblazers have used the platform to enhance their careers by learning about AI, automation, data literacy, and other relevant topics.
Trailhead Coach builds on the success of Trailhead by providing a structured pathway trend for those seeking a career in the Salesforce ecosystem. It offers step-by-step guidance to help individuals upskill and thrive in this industry.
Trailhead Coach offers the following features:
Trailhead provides self-paced learning, enabling participants to acquire skills directly relevant to their career objectives in the Salesforce ecosystem.
Participants can earn vouchers for over 18 widely recognized Salesforce certifications, demonstrating their skills and proficiency to potential employers.
Upon obtaining certification, participants gain mock and informational interviews with Salesforce Talent Alliance employers, a group of Salesforce customers and partners searching for technology talent.
Trailhead Coach is accessible to two groups of participants:
According to Salesforce, more than 80% of hiring managers agree that skills are a more valuable attribute than a traditional education or career background when assessing job candidates.
Trailhead Coach trains individuals for careers in the Salesforce ecosystem and offers businesses a pool of Salesforce-skilled talent to help them succeed.
That interest and trend in productivity drive interest in Salesforce DevOps. The leading Salesforce DevOps companies around the world have created platforms that manage an organization’s Salesforce DevOps process. Each of these platforms’ success is derived from a key, shared characteristic – metadata intelligence.
The need for Salesforce DevOps arises from the requirement to accelerate the Salesforce release management process, which is hindered by the ability of any admin to modify an existing org's metadata configuration with the slightest administrative or setup change.
This results in Salesforce lacking a key feature of cloud native projects – the ability to reliably rebuild the entire system from source code and database migrations.
Deploying changes from a sandbox to testing in production orgs can be frustrating due to the dynamic nature of a Salesforce org. Deployment failures can’t fully indicate the extent of the issue, leading to multiple deployment iterations where developers gradually fix metadata issues.
These errors are often caused by unrealized dependencies or interim changes to the org's metadata, causing a slow process that can be a bottleneck for Salesforce delivery managers.
Parker Harris expressed his desire for a structured JSON format to export all metadata in one place and mentioned how Elements.cloud was "hiding the complexity we put on them."
The team at Elements.cloud was thrilled with the recognition. CEO, Ian Gotts, expressed his delight in an email exchange, stating that it was great to see Salesforce recognize the importance of governed metadata management and the challenges involved in achieving it.
Creating new applications in an IT architecture is similar to putting a puzzle together, but the pieces have contracts and well-published ways of supporting their use.
TrailblazerDX also highlighted the surprising surge in MuleSoft's performance in the previous year, indirectly indicating the high demand and trend for system integration among Salesforce customers.
The pandemic exposed weaknesses in customer service, prompting many companies to launch digital transformation projects that are still ongoing.
As a result, most large enterprises are committed to pushing forward with digital transformation initiatives. This creates a growing market for products and services that can deliver results similar to RBC's system integration project.
People at the event learned more about the development trend around the infrastructure of Data Cloud on top of metadata API, Hyperforce, and an Oracle base layer, and how it strengthens the vision of a united Salesforce.
EVP and General Manager at Salesforce, Patrick Stokes (among others), highlighted how products like Mulesoft, Tableau, and Marketing Cloud are closer to the core platform.
Salesforce also appealed to product managers to embrace metadata API and close remaining gaps on the platform.
For a long time now, one of the biggest development trends has been around standard development practices. That is why event attendees were happy to see Salesforce promoting standard development practices like:
TrailblazerDX 2023 focused on the development trend of generative AI and Einstein GPT, but the true stand-out trend was Salesforce DevOps. Vendors and attendees dominated conversations around DevOps trends, as enterprise application delivery was a key focus of the event.
Additionally, Salesforce Customer 360 and the Data Cloud (also known as Salesforce Genie) garnered significant interest.
The popularity of DevOps can be attributed to its necessity for delivering and maintaining complex Salesforce implementations. It has become a minimum requirement for Salesforce project delivery, with release management just the tip of the iceberg.
The most successful teams utilize DevOps metrics to demonstrate the importance of their work to stakeholders. Salesforce demonstrated a cohesive strategy for:
Developers, admins, and teams want to be "a leader of excellence and a trailblazer and pioneer who brings changes to their generation," which is why following these development trends is necessary to deliver revolutionary business apps in the Salesforce ecosystem.