I recently had the opportunity to deliver my presentation Force.com Data Modeling: The Advantages of Denormalization to a sold out room at Dreamforce ’13. Based on the enthusiastic response and the feedback we received following the presentation about the lack of resources available on Salesforce Platform data modeling, I wanted to post highlights from the […]
Posts tagged with «Dreamforce»
Last week at Dreamforce ’13, the salesforce.com Developer Relations team introduced a number of new books, including Visualforce in Practice. I had the opportunity to be a coauthor for this book along with some of the best minds in the Force.com developer community, including Michael Floyd, Don Robins, Matt Lacey, Ryan Sieve, Peter Gruhl, Dan Appleman and […]
Our CTO, Michael Topalovich, delivered a presentation at Dreamforce ’12 in San Francisco with the title, “Integrating Chatter with Cloud Productivity: Patterns for Social Success.” Michael provides a vision and a proposed architecture for integrating Salesforce Chatter with cloud apps such as Basecamp, Github, and other productivity tools to enable users to consolidate events and […]
I've been seeing a lot of "Dreamforce Survival Guides" and "Dreamforce Tips" popping up as we get closer to the big event. While some of them are good (I've linked to a few below), some of them are just crap SEO / tweet fodder thrown together at the last minute. Here's the deal - this will be my 4th Dreamforce, and the way I describe the experience to people is that it's like sticking your finger in a light socket and keeping it there for four days. It's intense. It's a nonstop barrage of information and stimulation. It's awesome. BUT if you don't manage your time and energy, you will burn out quickly and miss out on much of the experience. So how do you make the most of your Dreamforce experience without needing to take the following week off to recoup? Here's my strategy...
Skip the keynotesI'm sure the folks behind Dreamforce won't be thrilled with this one, but let's think about it…unless you camp out for seats or are part of the upper echelon of Friends of Marc, you're not going to be sitting close to the action; you're going to be watching a big TV because Benioff will be ant-sized from where you're sitting. And sit you will…for hours at a time on a chair that was not build for comfort. The keynotes rarely, if ever, start on time, and they are notorious for running way long. So there goes a couple hours of your day right there. Unless you really need to see or be seen my Marc, my advice is to watch the keynotes from somewhere comfortable; you'll hear the exact same messages, and your butt won't fall asleep.
Prioritize sessions…you can't see everythingMy #1 Dreamforce rookie mistake was packing every single day end-to-end with sessions. By the second day I couldn't sit through another session to save my life. You have to choose wisely - pick one "must see" session each day, with a second "should see" session, and a "could see" third session. If you're making it to more than three sessions each day, I salute your attention span.
When the office calls, don't answer the phoneDreamforce is your time. Your company will not go out of business with you being out of the office for the week, despite how many times you hear the words "critical," "urgent," or "OMG YOU HAVE TO CALL ME NOW OR THE EARTH WILL EXPLODE!" in your voice messages. Honestly, if you can't tear yourself away, stay home. I was that guy last year huddling next to the only free power outlet in Moscone center hacking away on projects when I should have been networking or sitting in a session.
Turn off all email notificationsSimilar to taking phone calls, if you're continuously allowing yourself to be distracted by email, you're not going to get much out of Dreamforce. If your phone buzzes you every time you get an email, turn that notification off. If you use Outlook, first of all I'm sorry, but second of all make sure you don't have new email notifications popping up while you're trying to take notes at a session. Just say no to email while you're in sessions or attending functions; schedule times throughout the day where you give yourself 10-15 minutes to read and respond to email, but beyond that shut it off.
Leave extra space in your luggage for swagHats, shirts, stuffed monkeys…you will pick up a lot of swag at Dreamforce, and as cool as some of it is and as much as your kids will love it, it's not worth having to buy another bag from one of the tourist shops and paying $75 to check it on your flight back. Leave some room in your bags, because you will come home with more than what you left with.
Let your freak flag flyBe social. And no, I'm not talking about tweeting or posting to Facebook. I'm talking about getting out and feeling the energy of the Salesforce community. I won't belabor this point since it has already been brought up in other Dreamforce how-to posts, but seriously…you're away from the kids, you're away from the office, and you're in one of the greatest cities in the world. Enjoy the hell out of a party or twelve.
Put 30 minutes on your calendar to stop by your hotelIf you have a hotel close to Moscone, go there before you head out for the Dreamforce parties. There are two reasons for this. One, you don't want to lug around your bag all night - it will get heavy as you party hop through SoMa, and you run the risk of forgetting it somewhere. Two, after having lived in San Francisco for a number of years, I can tell you that you never know what the weather will be like from one hour to the next and you will probably have to add a layer or two as the sun goes down. I had to drop $100 in the Dreamforce store last year to pick up a fleece and a hat because it was bitter cold once the sessions ended and evening set in.
Install Evernote on your phone, tablet, and laptopIf you already use Evernote, you already know what I'm talking about. If you don't already use Evernote, drop everything you're doing (after you're done reading and retweeting this post, of course) and install it on every device you own. Learn how it works (should take about 10 minutes), and use Evernote to capture everything important from Dreamforce. It's the only way you'll remember everything - this will be an intense experience, you will meet many people, and you will learn many new things; it wouldn't be fair to your brain to expect it to remember 1/4 of what you see at Dreamforce, so capture everything in a trusted system like Evernote.
Leave the paper behind when you pick up materialsThis is another one that I know the Dreamforce marketing folks won't like, but we need to send a message that in this day and age we don't need to kill so many trees on glossy collateral that most of us won't read. It killed me last year to get that stack of sponsor handouts and the paper Dreamforce guide, when everything else in my life is 100% digital. Not to mention, it's at least another couple of pounds that you'll have to lug around with you all day.
Pack healthy snacksYou will get hungry in between meals, and there aren't a ton of options around Moscone for healthy snacks. If you happen to be near a sweets table before it gets picked clean, leave the brownies and cookies alone and stick to something with less sugar and more protein…getting through a full day of the Dreamforce madness is difficult enough, but trying to do it after loading up on fatty, sugary snacks is just going to put you into a coma.
Starbucks is not the only coffee optionThere will come a point where you feel like you could kill for coffee, and there never seems to be any inside Moscone when you really need it. It will appear as though the Starbucks on 4th St. is your only option, and indeed there will be 40-50 people in line who have come to that same conclusion. Do yourself a favor, walk right past the Starbucks and turn left after crossing over Mission St. Walk about a block, cross 5th St., and Mint Plaza will be on your right. Make your way to Blue Bottle Coffee. You're welcome. Handy walking directions to Blue Bottle: http://goo.gl/maps/CMx5i
Do not call San Francisco "San Fran" or "Frisco"Just don't. Please. Don't.
We headed out to San Francisco last week for Dreamforce, the annual salesforce.com user conference. While the primary objective was to learn about the future direction of Salesforce CRM and the Force.com platform, I also wanted to put my finger on the pulse of cloud computing in the enterprise and validate my optimism for 2010 and beyond. With over 15,000 people attending Dreamforce, and a party scene reminiscent of the Dot Com days, I came home with great enthusiasm and little doubt that “the cloud” has reached the tipping point, and combined with an economic recovery will create a perfect storm scenario in the coming year that will make the innovations of the Dot Com era pale in comparison to what we’re about to see with cloud computing. Some thoughts:
- The “big announcement” revealed during Marc Benioff’s first of several lengthy keynotes was Salesforce Chatter, a social platform designed to drive collaboration within the Salesforce CRM environment. I can’t say I was all that excited about Chatter until I went to the salesforce.com area of the Expo Hall and got a first-hand look at it. Even though we won’t see it generally available until mid or late 2010, the deep-dive demo that I got helped me to understand the business value of Chatter and how Delivered Innovation will be able to design next generation Salesforce and Force.com systems around a real-time social and collaborative paradigm.
- The session that I was most looking forward to was the discussion on integrating Google Wave with Salesforce. Unfortunately the Google Product Manager was unavailable, and despite the best efforts of his replacement the session was a disappointment. I’m still trying to wrap my head around whether Wave will be able to provide business value or if it’s just a new toy with a lot of buzz around it.
- The best session that I attended gave a sneak peek of new packaging and patch management tools for commercial applications. Today, any customer that downloads a package from the AppExchange has to explicitly download and install updated packages in order to upgrade a commercial application; in the near future it will be possible to push patches and version upgrades to customers directly and instantaneously. The other impressive feature that I did not realize was already available was the ability to apply conditional logic within Apex classes to create branching based on the installed package version in a customer Salesforce org…for all intents and purposes this creates an in-line code branching solution that avoids the complexity of managing multiple class instances within a package. But for when a situation does call for a code branch to address critical issues and distribute patches, salesforce.com has created a paradigm of parallel development orgs that can be used to branch code and merge it back into the core code base of the original development org for version releases.
- I will chalk it up to growing pains and West Coast time management, but almost nothing ran on schedule during Dreamforce, and I found that to be frustrating at times. Lesson learned – leave some flexibility in your itinerary and be prepared to make choices regarding sessions because Dreamforce was pretty chaotic at times. And if you’re planning on grabbing some food from a sponsored lunch, get there early.
- I realize that events are huge marketing opportunities, but I walked out of a couple of sessions because I felt like I was being hard sold on messaging that I had long bought into. There may be a fine line between education and indoctrination, but let people drink the Kool Aid by choice…not brute force.
- My biggest takeaway was the genuine enthusiasm that I got from current and potential Salesforce customers that had “found religion” in cloud computing. It was very exciting to have the opportunity to talk to so many people that had made the conceptual leap and understood the importance of the cloud.
In a broader context, the energy that I felt in San Francisco last week was like nothing that I had experienced since I lived and worked there almost ten years ago. There were times when I felt as if I had stuck my finger directly into an electrical outlet and kept it there until I boarded the plane home. 2010 is going to be an explosive year, and whether it was Dreamforce itself or just the timing of the event, many of us will look back at this week in San Francisco as the start of a golden era of technology.