Wed, 28 November 2018
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we’ve got Sunday Parker, Accessibility Evangelist at Salesforce, to kick off a two-part series focused on building accessible apps. What is it like to use Salesforce if you can’t see what’s on the screen? What if you can’t use a mouse or keyboard? We look at what you can do to help, and how that can improve the experience for all users.
Join us as we talk about how to start thinking about accessibility in your org and how you can get the conversation started. This podcast is accessible! The full show transcript is below the show notes.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Sunday Parker.
Abilityforce and joining the Salesforce Accessibility team.
Sunday started at Salesforce about two and a half years ago in technical support for Pardot. She had originally studied interior architecture and design, but she started working in tech after she graduated. “I always feel like I hit the lottery when I joined Pardot because they were such an amazing team,” she says, “it was part of this great organization of Salesforce but we had our own little family.”
“Very quickly after I started with Salesforce, I became part of our first ever resource group for employees with disabilities,” Sunday says, which meant working very closely with the internal accessibility team. From there it was a simple transition to start working with them full time.
The Ohana group for accessibility is called Abilityforce. “Ohana groups are what we call employee resource groups at Salesforce,” Sunday says, “which are different intersections within different groups in our organization.” We’ve previously covered AsiaPacforce and BOLDforce on pod if you’re interested in learning about other Ohana groups.
Simple ways to get started with accessibility.
“Accessibility is about ensuring that people with disability have full and equal access,” Sunday says, “so if we’re talking about a physical environment that may mean ample space for a wheelchair user like myself to get around, but if we’re talking about the web or a mobile application that may mean something different.” A user who is blind and uses a screen reader is going to interact with the web differently, and we need to be sure that we’re building products that will allow them to still use the platform in a way that works for them.
There are a lot of different levels of accessibility, so for admins getting to know the landscape, how do you start thinking about looking for accessibility needs? “The best thing that you can do is start speaking to people,” Sunday says, which means starting conversations with anyone who needs that kind of support within your company. “Aside from that, getting involved with the HR side and seeing if they have any processes in place for employee accommodations or how your organization is welcoming of employees with disabilities.”
One of the first things you can do is test with a keyboard. “Oftentimes, if your application is accessible to a keyboard, it means that a screen reader is also able to digest and interact with the content,” Sunday says. Another basic consideration is color contrast. “Millions of people around the world are low vision or color blind, and keeping an eye out for that high contrast can really help in making the user experience great for everyone,” she says.
How accessibility benefits all users.
On the Salesforce platform, there are a lot of things to think about in terms of levels of accessibility. At Salesforce, we follow a set of web standards called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), and specifically WCAG AA 2.0. “This is a global collaboration of folks that have set these standards,” Sunday says, “and it’s really the best way to follow a clear set of guidelines to build accessible web or mobile applications.”
“One of the great benefits of building with accessibility in mind,” Sunday says, “is that it often creates an experience that is really better for everyone.” Power users are able to take advantage of the same features to interact with the web in a whole new way. Lightning, in particular, is built to help support that. “We’ve really incorporated accessibility from the start with Lightning,” Sunday says, “those using assistive technology will have a better experience on the platform.”
Being an ally.
“You do not need to be a person with a disability to advocate for people with disabilities,” Sunday says, “so look out for ways within your company and your role that you can influence accessibility.” Ask questions and get the conversation started. “It’s not that people aren’t trying to do the right thing, it’s just that they don’t know how to start,” she says. People with disabilities are the largest minority in the US, so it’s also a good business move to open up your content to more users.
If you’re interested in getting involved, you can get started with the Trailblazer community Admins With Disabilities. If you’re a user with a disability and you have feedback, please reach out because we’d love to get you engaged in our user research efforts. We’re also releasing Trailhead content around accessibility, so look out for that and get educated.
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Full Show Transcript
Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast where we talk about product, community and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce admin. I'm Gillian Bruce, and today ladies and gentlemen, we are kicking off a very special two part series focused on building accessible apps.
Wed, 21 November 2018
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we’re joined by podcast veteran LeeAnne Rimel, Principal Admin Evangelist at Salesforce, to talk about the 10-day Be an Innovator Challenge. The event brings admins together to learn how to use Einstein Prediction Builder and Einstein Discovery to help build more innovative apps. If you want to get involved, you can access video content right now to get started.
Join us as we talk about the Be an Innovator campaign and how you can still get involved.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with LeeAnne Rimel.
Uncovering what you have that’s valuable.
Be an Innovator is a new, exciting campaign focused on innovation, but what does that actually mean? “It means for us, as admins, thinking about different ways to build apps to make them smart,” LeeAnne says, “while also expanding how we’re thinking about what tools are available to us.” It’s easy to get comfortable with certain tools and features, but it’s always useful to look at every resource available to you before you start solutioning a problem.
The program is focused on everyone in our admin and developer community who is starting to think about Einstein. The main starting place is building out an Einstein use case to start thinking practically about how you can use this tool in your own org. While rules-based predictions have been around for a little while, but that’s not the same thing as the intelligence system that Einstein brings to the table. We’ll also get into requirements, and finally, build a prediction to see what these tools are like in action. Also, there’s swag.
Einstein Prediction Builder and Einstein Discovery were both built for admins, and so they can be really powerful tools to help you get things done. Einstein Prediction Builder is an admin tool that allows you to create a predictive model, “it makes every admin a data scientist,” LeeAnne says. You can then use those predictions in everything from your reports and dashboards to your user experience to automated processes, and that’s only scratching the surface.
For Einstein Discovery, you can really dive into the analytics to look at correlations that help you get a sense of the bigger picture. Instead of looking at one factor in a customer’s decision, you can look at several overlapping data points to understand what segments you’re dealing with. You get a more complete story from your data to connect the dots, “you can look at it and come away with very actionable line items to implement in your business to achieve your goal,” LeeAnne says.
The great thing about Be an Innovator is that it’s fairly easy to get involved. The core is a series of six short videos that take you through the process step by step. More importantly, joining the campaign means that you get hands-on time with an org that has Prediction Builder and a whole bunch of data in it. That means that you can get started playing with all the different possibilities and really understand how these tools functions.
“To build a prediction you have to have a lot of data,” LeeAnne says, “so we have a lot of customer data that we’ve built into this environment so you can build real predictions.” These tools put the power of data science directly into your hands without the need for coding, “so it’s democratizing AI.”
When Salesforce first started, one revolutionary concept was the idea that the path to being someone who could manage technology was democratized, and the way that Einstein brings analytics and AI to admins is a reflection of that ethos. “If you can expand the people who are working with a technology, the technology is going to be better,” LeeAnne says, “it’s the diversity of thought and access to these tools that will make us all smarter, more innovative, and better.”
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Tue, 13 November 2018
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we have the last episode in our review of great episodes of the past year, focused on connections. As admins, we need to connect a lot of things: our company with our customers; our business units across the company; and our community to grow the Salesforce Ohana. We revisit interviews with Katherine Clark, Vetforce Product Manager at Salesforce; Misty Fierro, Senior Salesforce Analyst in Sales Operations and Commercial Analytics at SolarWinds; and Emily Tam, Director of Application Development at Borrego Solar Systems.
Join us as we talk about how Katherine, Misty, and Emily create connections: connecting customers with what they need, connecting community members with each other, and connecting business units.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Katherine, Misty, and Emily.
How automation helps Katherine be a solo admin at Salesforce.
Katherine Clark is the Vetforce Product Manager at Salesforce, and that community of veterans is understandably focused on a goal-oriented approach to learning the platform. A key to serving that audience is setting up the community to help them achieve those goals. “What really helps our community thrive is harnessing the automation that Salesforce provides,” Katherine says, “because of our integrations we’re able to pull in information and other places to automate the delivery of our benefits.” So if they see that someone earns a specific number of badges, they can use automation to place them in the Ranger group in Vetforce.
Vetforce is a big community, there’s only one Katherine to manage the whole thing. “I like to tell people I’m a solo admin at Salesforce and it blows people’s minds,” she says, “there’s nobody at the desk next to me to turn to and ask a Salesforce admin question, so I use Cases, I use Knowledge, anything that helps me connect with our members and automate and streamline as much as possible. I just try to pull in as many innovative solutions as I can so that our members can get connected to those Salesforce skills and careers as quickly as possible.” Pulling in a component is such a powerful tool to give members exactly what they need at exactly the right time.
Helping a nonprofit and connecting veterans.
Misty Fiero is the only person to get Gillian up before a community event to work out in the morning. In other words, she’s an amazing connector, not only with other people but in the way she connects others with Salesforce skills and opportunities. The first person she needed to connect to start her Salesforce journey, however, was herself.
On the weekends, Misty helps run two dog rescues: Justice4Mutts, and Texas Trailblazers. “We get a lot of stuff done with a little bit of resources,” she says. Around the time Misty was attending the first Dreamforce, she had identified a problem with communication in her nonprofit. At the event, she learned that Salesforce will provide a nonprofit instance to 501(c)3’s.
Building out that instance helped Misty get the experience she was looking for, but she also needed some help. Through Vetforce and Merivis she was able to work with other veterans to get everything accomplished, and she continues to partner with those groups to both maintain the instance and get people experience.
Using Salesforce to connect every part of the business.
Emily Tam has been in the Salesforce ecosystem for a long time. She needs to worry about connections every day because her team is distributed. While she’s based in the Oakland, a large part of her team is based in Massachusetts and people work remotely all the time. They’ve swapped to an Agile methodology, and the Agile Accelerator app has been a big help. “With the Agile Accelerator we’re able to have that close-knit feeling of a team that’s colocated without being in the same location,” Emily says.
Emily also uses Salesforce to connect every part of her business— everything from managing HR to check requests to building solar panels. Her team built a requisitions request form on the platform, so anytime you need approval for something, whether that’s purchasing, legal, or technical, you use the same centralized tool to make the request. “Managers love it because it’s at the top of their queue, they log in every day and they see what they have to approve; and employees like it because it’s one central place for them to go,” she says.
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Wed, 7 November 2018
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we’re continuing our review of great episodes of the past year. This time, we’re revisiting some of our top episodes and guests focused around innovation. Innovation is a core admin superpower, both for our companies and our careers and communities. We’ll talk to Nana Gregg, VP Senior Salesforce Administrator at JLL Technology Solutions and Salesforce MVP, Molly Mahar, Product Designer of User Interface and User Experience at Salesforce, and Jimmy Hua, a Lead Member of Technical Staff in Software Engineering at Salesforce and founder of Asiapacforce.
Join us as we talk about how Nana, Molly, and Jimmy have leveraged Salesforce to help makes things easier for their coworkers and customers alike.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Nana Gregg, Molly Mahar, and Jimmy Hua.
How Nana uses new releases to deliver innovation.
Nana Gregg doesn’t have a college degree, but her unique path to Salesforce has ended up with her being the VP Senior Salesforce Administrator at JLL Technology Solutions. Nana pegs her success to a hunger for learning more: “I never knew that when I became a Salesforce Admin I would need to learn finance, but I did,” she says. “I learned finance concepts and accounting concepts because I had to implement this AppExchange package, and that has made me a better administrator because I can talk to those teams and understand what they’re asking me to do.”
“If you ask my boss, he would tell you I’m a release geek,” Nana says. The first thing she does when she’s prepping a new release is to focus on the highlights: she looks at the major areas of focus that they use in their org. Within the first week, she sends an email to her boss breaking down the changes by how easy they are to implement. What are no-brainer wins, and what is simple but need a little bit of a process? “By Monday morning, I want to come in and send out an email with all the cool new functionality to get people excited and stay excited about the system and see that we’re continuing to innovate.”
Why data is key for Einstein bots.
Molly Mahar works on Einstein bots, and she shares a lot of tips about how you can use this new and exciting technology in your own org. So how do you get started with your own data? “There’s a number of sources: chat transcripts from Live Agent, case records that have ways that people are asking for these things,” Molly says. However, “people tend to talk differently when chatting with a human than with a bot,” she says, so you need to keep that in mind. “We’ve built the ability to have packages of data for intents that map to your use cases, which you can find on AppExchange,” she says, and there will be more on the way.
One key, however, is that you trust the data going into it in order to train your bot the way that you want. While other natural language bots use public domain data and other sources, it doesn’t necessarily translate into a bot that speaks the same language your customers are speaking. “We want Admins and companies to maintain control over exactly what the bot is learning from,” Molly says, “it’s important that you trust the data going into it.” That’s how you can really deliver that magical experience to your customers that make bots feel like a seamless part of your brand.
How innovation with Salesforce helps deliver equality.
Last but certainly not least, we revisit our talk with Jimmy Hua, who is innovating within the platform to deliver equality. He created a Salesforce app to help manage and promote the Ohana group that do so much amazing work. He got interested through his work as the founder of Asiapacforce. For Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage Month in May they threw 8 events in San Francisco, and over 20 internationally across the 14 hubs they have for Asiapacforce spread throughout the globe.
“It was actually really hard to manage all these events across different locations and people,” Jimmy says. Keeping track of everything was getting tricky, “I was sitting there and saying to myself, ‘I think there’s a software out there that could help us do this…’ and then I realized I work on the platform every day,” Jimmy says. He realized that he could make something to improve on the visibility of events— with thousands of emails he had no idea what was happening on any particular day.
“One of the biggest things I try to do is to not reinvent the wheel— we want to use other people’s work to build even more things,” he says. Once he looked at his needs, he realized that managing an event works a lot like campaigns. He built out the Salesforce Instance into something called Ohana Network. One of the other Ohana groups was complaining about the same challenges Asiapacforce faced, and even the Office of Equality was doing budgeting with spreadsheets, so Jimmy started adapting it to solve those problems as well.
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