How to Get the Most Out of Dreamforce 2014

blog_key_dreamforce2_320pxA good friend reached out about meeting up at Dreamforce this week. He reminded me that we first met at Dreamforce 8 years ago over lunch at a birds-of-a-feather table on sales operations. Word that year was that we would have an amazing 5000 people on hand for the event- how quickly things change!  In looking ahead to this week, a few thoughts come to mind on getting the most out of Dreamforce:

Over the years, while teaching administration courses, I have encouraged class participants to go home with new ideas and demonstrable value, the idea being that it is always easier to obtain budget for next year’s training when you’ve made impact with this year’s spend.

Start With the End in Mind

Over the years, while teaching administration courses, I have encouraged class participants to go home with new ideas and demonstrable value, the idea being that it is always easier to obtain budget for next year’s training when you’ve made impact with this year’s spend.  The same applies to big conferences like Dreamforce. Some suggestions include walking the expo floor for find new ideas for apps, talking to experts at the many booths Salesforce has set up, and making a point to return home with new ideas to implement. It can also be helpful to poll others in your organization for specific questions they may want answered.

Find an Oasis

With 150,000 expected to be on hand this year, it is going to be an overwhelming week of crowds, walking, and learning. I’ve found it very helpful each year to escape to quieter spaces with big sky around or with a favorite meal or cup of tea.  One great example is the Yerba Buena Gardens on top of Moscone North. There is a waterfall, an open grass area, and my long time favorite cafe Samovar. (If you go be sure to try the chai!) Similarly there are an amazing number of lunch and dinner options- to help you escape the grind- one I make a point of scheduling in every year is a vegan restaurant called Millennium, over at 580 Geary St.

Plan Your Sessions Wisely

With over 1,400 sessions at Dreamforce to choose from, it is imperative that you take the time to plan ahead. Given the size of the event, sessions are spread across many locations, some more than 10 minutes apart. Given the volume of attendees, even short distances can take time to traverse. A few recommendations on sessions include:

Product Roadmaps
A great benefit of being at Dreamforce each year is hearing Salesforce’s vision for the future. In Product Roadmap sessions, this is taken down a level to individual modules or features. I find these to be among the most useful sessions in understanding what Salesforce is prioritizing.

Industry Specific Sessions
There are 15 industries with specially geared sessions. These can be a great way to pick up ideas from others in your industry.

Role Specific Sessions
There are 20 job roles with specially crafted sessions. Within the Agenda Builder simply select your desired role, and select from among the many session options. One suggestion is to target some sessions at the next phase of your career, or alternatively, toward bringing home ideas that are valuable to your manager and organization.

Finding Flow: A Beginner’s Introduction to Gamification
Gamification has proven helpful in steering behavior in desired directions. It combines psychology and system design in driving more engaging experiences for users.

Code Related Sessions
Hands-on Training: Using Your Visualforce Pages in Salesforce
Visualforce makes systems shine- allowing us to tailor the end user experience toward maximum productivity. If you want some hands on time with Visualforce, or just seek to learn how to enable your Visualforce pages for Salesforce1, this is a great opportunity.

Hands-on Training: Get Started with Apex Code for Admins
Apex is Salesforce’s Java-like programming language, allowing us to embed totally custom business logic on the platform. Join us to learn when to use Apex and how to read, write, and execute code. This course is intended for administrators who are familiar with designing and managing Salesforce applications but have no previous experience with Apex and/or other programming languages.

Code Consultation (Moscone Center West)
This is less of a session and more of a chance to have 1:1 consultation with a, Heroku, or ExactTarget expert. Be sure to make an appointment as spots are limited!

Getting Started: Governance at a Glance
Too few companies practice good governance of their systems. This session provides six tips toward building a governance strategy, including topics such as steering committees, change control, and stakeholder management.

Managing Multiple Releases Through Better Environment Planning
Major Releases, Minor Releases. Developers, Testers. Refreshes and Previews. How do you manage all of these various demands in your Salesforce environments and sandboxes? Join us as Cisco and Symantec share their stories about how they tackled these problems around sandbox management through the use of both processes and tools. Using two very different methods, you’ll see how Cisco and Symantec orchestrate multiple development paths into a cohesive release management program that helps both IT and the business to support several major/minor releases throughout the year.

Best of luck at another great Dreamforce!

David Carnes - Founder & CEO

about the author

David Carnes

David’s role as Chairman & Chief Digital Evangelist is centered around driving meaningful client engagement and business development. The key to this is serving as an advisor to OpFocus’ SaaS clients as they scale their revenue operations and embrace digital transformation.

In his early career, David worked in IT and operations for software companies, developing an interest in CRM, marketing automation, and analytics while building out systems, processes, data, and reporting for the business teams he supported. He earned a Masters in Software Engineering and credits a Harvard summer class in database management for opening his eyes to what systems could do to support operations. In founding OpFocus in 2006 David took another step toward focusing on business operations, seizing on Salesforce’s vision and never looking back.

David is a frequent speaker at Salesforce and Salesforce community events around the world, mentors through the Trailblazer Mentorship Program hosts Dashboard Dōjō, and serves as a Platform Champion and a Pi-TaP board member. Due to his involvement in the trailblazer community, David’s recently been awarded the position of Salesforce MVP!