What went down at TrailblazerDX 2022 in San Francisco
After two years of pandemic-inspired virtual events, Trailblazer DX was back in person this year in San Francisco. There were a ton of exciting announcements, especially involving Flow and additional connections between the Salesforce Platform and its acquisitions. Details of these announcements can be found here.
But Salesforce events are also fun. While some of the light-hearted things could be experienced remotely, others had to be seen in person.
The popularity of Wordle has spawned innumerable spin-offs. Everyone has one, and salesforce is no different. The game pitted two players head-to-head in a three-round flow competition. Both competitors were presented a business case and between 5 and 9 steps to satisfy the business need with Flow. Working against both the clock and each other, the winner is the one who got the most correct steps, or in the event of a tie, the one who finished first. Win two out of three rounds to claim victory.
Trailhead has successfully gamified their platform with points, badges, and ranks along the way. Each self-guided training module completed earns a badge and individual lessons earn points, pushing the Trailblazer down the path. The highest rank is Ranger, which requires 50 badges and 100,000 points, which takes a substantial amount of time and effort to achieve. Since there is no rank beyond Ranger, Trailblazers frequently refer to themselves with a multiplier to signify when they have gone well past these numbers. For example, a 3x Ranger has completed 150 badges and 300,000 points. Now Salesforce will formally recognize this achievement by adding a star to the badge each time another increment of ranger has been reached.
Whether or not this stipulation is valuable is somewhat debatable. It is a nice goal, although not valued in the same way by hiring entities, who would rather see certifications and practical experience. However, the community called for something beyond Ranger to acknowledge their efforts. Giving the people what they want was a nice solution. This should be widely deployed to the community with the Winter ‘23 release.
Considering the importance of weaving new acquisitions into the fold, these certifications are significant for admins, developers, and customers. Mulesoft, Tableau, and Slack were the darlings of this year’s TrailblazerDX, and now the experts in these products can hang their credentials right next to the traditional Salesforce certs. For customers, the appearance of a unified product suite looks even more complete, and it becomes easier to identify individuals who have cross-discipline skills and experience in the areas they need. For aspiring admins and developers, they can now choose a niche career path that includes a combination of Salesforce’s traditional certifications as well as specialized certs.
Pardot, er, “Salesforce Marketing Cloud Account Engagement” (have a feeling that won’t be sticking around), was acquired in 2013. At this point, a Pardot Certification is one of the most highly valued specializations in the actual job market. Having a Pardot Cert along with actual experience puts an Admin in a strong position. The trifecta of Mulesoft, Tableau, and Slack may head down that same path. This feature should be available to all with the Winter ‘23 release.
Over the last few years, Co-CEO's Marc Benioff and Bret Taylor have upped their shoe game. It has become a bit of a tradition for Marc and/or Bret to roll onto the keynote stage rocking some eye-catching shoes. This year was no different. While Benioff did not attend the smaller Trailblazer DX conference, Bret was there in the front row, wearing these.
Chris Duarte, who would aptly be described as “Salesforce Famous,” designed and made these incredible gold, cloud-encrusted high tops. A follow up tweet mentions that they even arrived with a bedazzling repair kit.
Salesforce has done a tremendous job bringing together their resources onto the Trailhead platform. Training modules, certification information and prep, help pages, and community groups have been consolidated in a manner that is much easier to find and navigate. Community Tags are another addition to this user interface and experience. This allows Trailblazers to self-identify areas of interest to link up with others who have the same interests and paths. This feature is expected to be deployed with the Winter ‘23 release.
Salesforce launched the free streaming service prior to Dreamforce ‘21, which made for a great remote experience for those who could not attend in person (the vast majority of us since only a few thousand were invited in person). The Salesforce+ Lounge showcased the platform, with extra emphasis on the Legends of Low Code, who were in attendance. Another show – aptly title Trailblazer – introduces five black leaders building successful careers, communities, and companies with Salesforce. The stars of this program were also in attendance, producing some content and meeting attendees.
The audience at TrailblazerDX includes numerous organizations that use Salesforce, Mulesoft, Tableau, Slack, and other products to run their businesses. The audience also includes countless admins, developers, business analysts, project managers, and architects who specialize in these skills. What better place to pair of companies with the individuals who can help them succeed.
The career fair included presentations from various companies and sponsors of the event, with basic interview and introductory conversations that will in all likelihood lead to future career pairings for some of those in attendance. For those fortunate enough to find their next Awesome Admin or Muley or Slack star, the event will be well worth the effort.
The Science of Sport
Dreamforce is known for the celebrity sessions featuring movie stars, athletes, musicians and business leaders from across the world. TrailblazerDX keeps it low-key. However, the event finished up with a session on the Science of Sport. Moderated by New York Times journalist Kara Swisher. Guests included Olympic speed skater Maame Biney and Paralympic snowboarder Mike Schultz. Biney represented the United States in both the 2018 and 2022 Winter Olympics, while Schultz earned one gold and two silver medals for the U.S. in Pyeongchang and Beijing, respectively. The special guests described the importance of data in their process of analyzing their own performance, and continuing to improve while facing world-class competition at the highest stage.
It wouldn’t be a Salesforce event without swag. This year’s event included a short scavenger hunt encouraging attendees to see numerous booth and areas of the conference. Of course there was emphasis on checking out Tableau Terrain, Mulesoft Mountain, and Slack Summit. The community cove included sections for Trailhead, Certification info, Community groups, and other help items. These and a few other required stops (Flowdle!!!) rewarded those who completed the scavenger hunt with a nice bag and some goodies inside.
There were also some more difficult tasks for those who were up to it. Camp Quick Start & Mini Hacks included some legitimate challenges for admins and developers to put the knowledge learned at the conference to the test. Mini projects could be completed (with some assistance as necessary), with escalating prizes, including an Apple Air Tag for keys and other items that we don’t want to lose.
Say It Ain’t So...
The penultimate night of most Salesforce conferences is highlighted by a private concert, free for attendees and closed to the general public. Previous acts like Fleetwood Mac, Green Day, and Metallica have played before tens of thousands of Dreamforce attendees in the San Francisco Giants baseball stadium. TrailblazerDX had a smaller attendance than the spectacle that is Dreamforce. This year’s act was Weezer, playing in an indoor venue, The Masonic. The quaint auditorium gave everyone a clear and close-range few of the band.
With between one and two thousand Trailblazers in the house, it felt like being on the stage with them. To their credit, they performed as if they were in an 80,000-seat stadium. The song line-up was largely the familiar tracks that Weezer fans love, with just a couple newer songs thrown in for good measure. The band’s recent cover album fed the playlist with songs like Aha’s Take On Me, Toto’s Africa, and Metallica’s Enter Sandman. The concert was a perfect end to the final night of the conference.