Thu, 29 June 2023
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we sit down for coffee with Mike, Gillian, and Josh Birk.
Join us as we chat about what ChatGPT has to do with New Coke and ponder the mystery of the McRib.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with the Admin Evangelist Team.
Opinionated launches (and lunches)
Every month, Gillian, Mike, and Developer Evangelist Josh Birk sit down for a cup of coffee and hit the “record” button. For June, we’re talking about opinionated launches: launches in the tech world—or elsewhere—that drew attention and, most importantly, a whole lot of opinions.
Join us as we tackle the big questions:
Thu, 22 June 2023
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Deon Louw, Financial Planning and Analysis Manager at City and Provincial Properties, triple-star Ranger, MuleSoft mentor, and avid Composer enthusiast.
Join us as we chat about MuleSoft Composer, why the community is such a good resource, and how integrations can lead to a digital transformation snowball.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Deon Louw.
From accounting audits to Salesforce
Deon started his career in accounting, specializing in external audits. “While that’s a great profession and really interesting, I realized that I just loved technology more,” he says, so he started trying to figure out how to change careers.
When, through a series of coincidences, Deon ended up looking after a Salesforce org for one of his clients, he felt like he had finally found his calling. He was immediately struck by how powerful the platform could be as a business tool and the potential it had for automation. He could apply his skills in a new way, and that only became more apparent as he added MuleSoft to his toolkit.
Becoming a MuleSoft Mentor
Deon’s company originally handled a lot of business processes manually, so moving to Salesforce was a game-changer. But that meant the rest of their business needed to keep up. Deon started looking into ERP platforms and how he could use MuleSoft Composer to unlock even more automations. “It allows us to scale without having to increase headcount at every single step,” he says.
The community helped Deon immensely on his journey and he’s been giving back by becoming a MuleSoft Mentor. He helps people work through issues they face on the platform and connects people who face similar challenges with the resources to solve them.
A digital transformation snowball
One thing that Deon has found as he’s brought more automations to his organization is that digital transformation starts to snowball. Once people see how getting rid of manual processes can help them get more done, they start looking for other areas where technology can help them and they bring their own ideas to the table.
At the same time, Deon’s organization is relatively small, and so one major challenge he faces is figuring out how to add layers of automation and integration without bringing on more people to manage everything. Luckily, MuleSoft Composer strikes the perfect balance of keeping everything manageable for a small team while still enabling the powerful integrations Deon is looking for.
Be sure to check out the full episode for more about MuleSoft mentors, how Deon thinks about integrations, and why the MuleSoft Composer community is so amazing.
Mike: MuleSoft Composer makes it easy to build process automation for data using clicks instead of code. Dion Lowe is a triple star ranger MuleSoft Mentor and avid composer fan. So in this episode, we're going to find out from him what he was able to accomplish using MuleSoft Composer. Now, before we get into that episode, be sure you're following the Salesforce admins podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcast, that way you get a new episode every Thursday right on your phone. So let's get Dion on the podcast. So Dion, welcome to the podcast.
Deon:Mike, thank you so much.
Mike: Why don't we get started, just introduce everybody to where you are and how you got to being a Salesforce admin and also I'll tip the cards, I know you're an admin of another platform too.
Deon:Yes, so I've had quite an interesting journey. I started off my world as a chartered accountant and in external audit, and I realized that while that's a great profession and really, really interesting, I realized that I just love technology more. So I went down a route of changing careers and then through a number of interesting occurrences I ended up looking after one of my employer's Salesforce platform and I realized how incredibly powerful this is as a business tool, not only for the collection of information, but actually for building out processes and for efficiencies and ultimately automation.
Mike: Yeah. So I think that's interesting because that also leads us to a MuleSoft Composer discussion. But before we get to that, when I was introduced to you, I was told that you are a MuleSoft Mentor, so I would love to know what a MuleSoft Mentor does.
Deon:So MuleSoft Mentor was a thing I came across as I joined the MuleSoft greater community and MuleSoft Mentors are these people that have not only just a passion for the product, so they know the product, they've worked with the product, but they're also end users. So these aren't people... No one's a Salesforce employee, no ones a MuleSoft employee. These are people that live and breathe these real world challenges. But MuleSoft's come along and said, but hold on a second, I really like what you're doing or I like your engagement with the community. Can I please get effectively more of that? So MuleSoft Mentors are these groups of people that work with the product, but they're there, they're active people, they're active participants in the community, and they really do champion it from not a sales perspective because hey, I'm just here solving a problem and this is how I do it.
Mike: Well, I think that's a great, great description. I teased a little bit in the intro, but you're Salesforce admin, so you got that platform. You have an ERP system. What's it like owning multiple platforms at an organization?
Deon:It's really daunting, but quite exciting because all of a sudden these businesses, so take our business as an example, we really are saying, well, we understand that digital is the future. We understand that we need to do more online, we need to do more automation and all these buzzwords, but we're a small business, so all of a sudden the pressures just keep growing. But with that, because we're a small business, because we're agile, the opportunities grow with them. So while I'm fortunate that I could at least get Salesforce buttoned down and operating effectively before the ERP system came around, it is challenging because there are big responsibilities that the business is becoming more and more reliant on.
Mike: Right. I think... Well, first of all, I've never been in your chair before, but one of the things that I have done that I'd be interested to dive into is that discussion that a business has with, okay, we have Salesforce. Boy, it would be great, and I'm sure in your case it was, it would be great to get this ERP data in, or a reverse of that was wouldn't it be great if Salesforce could push this over to our ERP system. I'm figuring one of those two had to been mentioned in a room somewhere for you to move forward. So I would love to know what were some of the topics or issues that came up as you were considering, we need Salesforce and our ERP system to be integrated so that I can automate things with Composer.
Deon:So our journey really does start with Salesforce, and we deployed late 2020 and we deployed because we had to. This business is incredible and I'm really proud of what the business does, but it was all done on paper. Our billing was incredibly manual and time consuming and just not scalable. And I think I speak for any businesses that you want to be able to scale, you want to be able to grow, but you want to be able to do so effectively. So Salesforce started off as a way of being able to do, to start building out that scale. And then due to Salesforce and actually what we were accomplishing with Salesforce, we were really starting to push against the limitations of what our existing, and I can't even call it an ERP system, but what our existing accounting system was capable of.
Mike: That's a very good point. And you said something huge, integrations go both ways. So what were those early considerations that you were talking about in your organization that you think other admins should write down as like, oh, these are the things you need to start asking right away when we talk integration.
Deon:So I guess there's two parts of it is, especially in smaller businesses, it's about building up that use case to say, okay, well, it's great having the information, but what does that mean? And that's absolutely what needs to be done, but unfortunately due to how complex the overall, call it SaaS landscape or tech stack or whatever buzzword you want to use because of how complex that's becoming, when you start looking at integrations, integrations are a beast on their own. And you really need to start thinking, okay, but what does this mean for my organization? So similar to the point that I made earlier of saying, well, how many people are you willing to employ to run to import data? The same type of questions need to be made about your systems and your integration layer to say, well, are we willing to deploy an integration layer that then needs to be serviced by someone?
Mike: Yeah, oftentimes you're adding, because you're adding another layer there and you can create, now we have to have somebody that almost needs to monitor the telephone lines.
Mike: And you took my next question, but did you even look at anything besides Composer?
Deon:Oh, absolutely. We had to do our due diligence and that's the right thing to do. And we looked at, I very excitedly looked at the Anypoint platform because it is just so impressive and so powerful, but unfortunately it just, it's just that little bit too complex for us considering that we're such a small team. And we looked at other tools either be it no-code tools or other call it low-code tools. And some of them were impressive, some of them were dismal from the get go. But really what it came down to for us is how reputable is the product? Do we have relationships that support that product? And again, we're a existing Salesforce customer, so it wasn't that we needed to build that relationship. So we had existing relationships. Everything that we were looking at integrating in our, I say MVP, but it was our core processes.
Mike: Yeah, I think you had a unique perspective in that you owned both platforms you were integrating. To take a step back, if you didn't own one of those platforms, let's say your ERP system, what as a Salesforce admin should you ask for in terms of, I need to push data to you? What should that data look like and what data are you giving me? I think sometimes we start talking integration and you can feel like you're a little bit over your skis as a Salesforce admin because you're not quite sure what that means on the other side. So what were some of the things that were very beneficial for you to be able to look at your ERP system and map that to Salesforce?
Deon:So what's interesting about that is our ERP system was a new purchase for us. So it wasn't that these two systems had been running side by side for any period of time. And just to be clear, our integrations ran from day one, which is something that I'm immensely proud of, but it's testament to how easy this was to set up. But what that meant for us is that actually, while I own both systems, I had to learn a lot about the data model, especially within the ERP landscape. And effectively we had to understand, well, initially I started stressing over how does this data fit together and how am I going to map it and what am I going to do? But again, another great thing about MuleSoft Composer is that it does a lot of that back end translation for you.
Mike: That's a good point. Your post integration, I guess you were post integration on day one, which is unlike anybody, but-
Deon:Really proud of that.
Mike: Yeah, exactly. Right. I mean, hey, we've been integrated since day one. You know, like okay. You win. What does the roadmap look like now after that initial integration? What are the conversations that you're having with the organization?
Deon:So the overall roadmap's been really, and this is probably not the right word, but it's been really fun. Because we've had the basics buttoned down from day one we've been able to leverage all the new functionality that MuleSoft is bringing out and there's quite a lot of it, which again is why this is such an exciting product. But the conversations with the businesses has been really, really fascinating. So I've always been tech first. This is my bread and butter and I love it, but the business isn't. But giving people exposure to integrations has really allowed them to see the art of the possible. So now my conversations have gone from stress over the basics, and we're talking this in a couple of months to conversations of saying, "But hold on a second. I do this process. Can we not do something here?"
Mike: That's really great. As we wrap up, I want to go back to that mentor piece that I asked you about earlier, because I always try to end on, I don't know, something great for people to work for. As a MuleSoft Mentor what is one question that you feel you answer quite often?
Deon:It's really about I'm struggling to do X, Y, Z in this specific use case, can someone help me? And it might sound silly saying this, but it just goes back to how strong the community. Is the MuleSoft Composer community feels so active that you've got people that'll jump on that answer, typically mentors because of the role that they play in their community, but they jump on those answers. And within the matter of a day, couple of hours, but maximum a day, you've got these people with unique perspectives, guys working all over the place with all this different experiences supporting either the incoming cohort of MuleSoft users or the guys that are just struggling with a problem. And I really can't think of any other community that I've at least been part of that is as proactive as solution orientated in a constructive manner as what the MuleSoft community is and I think that is largely thanks to the MuleSoft Mentor program.
Mike: Yeah, this as well. So often when I go to Salesforce events or user groups or community events as an admin you can feel like, oh, no one else has this problem. There's no way anybody else has this problem. And then you bring it up at a birds of a feather table and you ask the question, six other people nod their heads because they were-
Deon:Everyone turns and they're excited.
Mike: "And you have that problem too." "Yep." You really all, there's like 10 business problems in the world. We're all trying to solve them. They just, they have different names, different process names.
Deon:No, absolutely. And it's about, and that's what I've always just loved about the overall community is that there's no right or wrong way. There's perspectives or there's experiences and people are so open, or most people should I say, are so open about talking about that. And the more that people talk about it, the less closed off people are. And without a doubt, that's been life-changing for me as an admin in this community coming from technically a non-technology background because I know that there's no question too silly or too small or too complex that won't be engaged with, and I can't think of a better tech stack to place my bets on.
Mike: Yeah, no. Well, Dion, I think you summed it up perfectly there with the more that we talk about challenges that we're confronting, the more we learn from each other. And I just can't think of a better place to end this conversation. So thanks so much for coming by and telling us about what you've done with MuleSoft Composer and good work on owning two platforms.
Deon:No, thank you. And thank you so much for having me, and thank you for championing the admin journey. It's really appreciated.
Mike: Well, it was a great discussion with Dion. And of course, if you enjoyed this episode, can you do me a favor and just share it with at least one person? If you're listening on iTunes, all you need to do is just tap the dots and choose share episode. Then you can post that show to your social feed. You can text it to a friend. If you're looking for more great resources, your one stop for everything admin is admin.salesforce.com, including a transcript of the show. And be sure to join in our conversation, the Admin Trailblazer Group in the Trailblazer Community. Of course, don't worry about it. Mentioned a lot of things. All those links are below in the show notes. So until next week, we'll see you in the cloud.
Direct download: Deon_Louw_on_using_MuleSoft_Composer_to_Integrate_Systems.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PST
Thu, 15 June 2023
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Sarah Flamion, Research Architect on Salesforce’s Research & Insights Team.
Join us as we chat about what recent advances in generative AI mean for admins and the Salesforce platform.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Sarah Flamion.
What is generative AI?
Generative AI is a blanket term for algorithms that can generate new content: text, images, code, voice, video, and more. It does that based on what it has learned from the existing data you give it.
Sounds complicated, but one of the coolest things about generative AI is that the interface for it is natural language processing (NLP). You can describe what you want it to make in plain English and it will spit something out at you.
The human in the loop
One thing that’s important to understand about generative AI is that it’s not an encyclopedia, it’s a completion system. Fundamentally, the way it works is to identify patterns and then predict the next thing in the sequence.A new field is emerging called prompt engineering, which is focused on how to talk to these models to get better results. You can adapt the model to specific knowledge by “grounding” it with data that isn’t public, for example, your brand voice or information about your industry. You can also give it feedback on its responses, which gives it a chance to learn and improve thanks to “the human in the loop.”
The main takeaway from all of this is that generative AI “supercharges the things that the humans can do,” Sarah says. You can make an image and then have the model give you three variations on it, or get a quick first draft for the opening of a piece of content you need to write.
Jobs to be done and Salesforce
For Salesforce, there is a lot of potential to make users’ lives easier. You might be able to automatically log calls based on an AI-generated transcript of the conversation, or clean up old data that was perhaps sloppily entered.
Sarah and her team often look at their research in terms of “jobs to be done.” Businesses generally have a list of jobs they’re trying to accomplish and then use tools, like Salesforce, to help them do those jobs. The thing is, the tools might change but most businesses will have the same jobs to be done, even over decades. Generative AI stands to shake that up, both in terms of what businesses need to get done and who can do those jobs.
Be sure to listen to the full episode for our in-depth conversation with Sarah and why change management just might be the most important skill for admins in the future.
Thu, 8 June 2023
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Andrew Mangano, Director of Product Management for Mobile at Salesforce.
Join us as we chat about the new features coming to Salesforce Mobile in the Summer ‘23 release.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Andrew Mangano.
Why Salesforce is about interactions
Andrew comes to product management from a background in data science, which is why he was originally brought into Salesforce. This gives him a unique perspective on how to make data-driven decisions to build what customers need the most.
Before all of that, Andrew started in retail, which really informs how he thinks about Salesforce. For him, it’s all about interactions. While the rise of mobile is often framed in terms of how it’s caused people to disconnect from each other, Andrew sees an opportunity to reconnect. He wants Salesforce Mobile to help make your interactions with your customers more one-to-one and face-to-face.
The power of mobile
“The power of mobile is being able to get out there and do things more efficiently that you really couldn’t do before,” Andrew says. You can have all of the information you need, immediately accessible from the field. And you can share that information instantly throughout your organization so everyone is up to date.
Andrew’s team been trying to make data easier to navigate so your users can put away the phone and focus on the interaction. They’re releasing Dynamic Forms for Mobile in Summer ‘23 you can help your users spend less time thumbing through lists and more time getting things done.
Offline access to your data
A common misconception about Salesforce Mobile is that it’s meant to be somehow replace or stand in for the desktop experience. However, Andrew points out that it’s more about adoption and engagement. It’s about putting Salesforce in the hands of employees that wouldn’t otherwise be on the platform and giving them access to new tools and information they haven’t been able to use before.
Bringing Salesforce to new places with mobile also introduces new challenges, namely, what if you need access to your information in a place with spotty internet? They’ve engineered an offline solution for that, coming in this release, which will let you still access the data you need even if you’re not connected to the cloud.
There’s even more coming soon, so be sure to enable all objects for Dynamic Forms and stay posted.
Thu, 1 June 2023
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Jenny McNamara, Salesforce Admin at CINC.
Join us as we chat about how she became obsessed with Flow Builder, the importance of mastering the basics, and why you need to get yourself to a Salesforce live event.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Jenny McNamara.
Be the translator
Jenny started as a business analyst, serving as the scrum master for multiple teams in her organization. When the Salesforce team needed more help, she jumped at the chance to specialize and become an admin. In both roles, you need to be able to translate what people are saying into the why behind it.
“Technical people and client-facing people don’t always speak the same language even though they’re all trying to accomplish the same thing,” Jenny says. A stakeholder may ask for a new data field when what they really want is a way for that information to show up on a dashboard. And tech person may not want to do that because it makes the org a mess. You need someone with an understanding of both sides of the organization to step in and translate.
Flow all night
When Jenny first started focusing on Salesforce, the thing that got her hooked on the platform was learning Flow Builder. She was still a business analyst at that point, but the Salesforce Admin on her team was having trouble building something and asked her if she could look into Flow a little bit so he could bounce ideas off of her.
Jenny sat down for a quick glance at what Flow was all about, just enough to help out. Before she knew it, she had learned enough to solve the problem in a single night. Some people binge Netflix, Jenny binged Flow Builder.
The magic of Salesforce live events
We met Jenny at TrailheaDX, where she was really excited to dive into the fundamentals. “The better your basics are, the more of the foundational things that you really master, the better you’re going to be at everything,” she says.
Getting to live Salesforce events has been so important to Jenny’s career in Salesforce, and she recommends it for people at all experience levels. You never know who you’ll meet, and you already have something in common to talk about. You can learn about something you didn’t know existed, which could take your career in a new direction. You might even find yourself staying up all night to learn more.
Direct download: Jenny_McNamara_on_Growing_Your_Career_From_TDX.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PST