What do you predict will happen in the Salesforce ecosystem in 2021? What will life be like as the new normal continues? Ask anyone on any given year and Salesforce predictions are tricky to answer – after all, it’s an industry that is moving so fast, in many different directions. Following the unprecedented events (and surprises!) of 2020, looking forward to 2021 is perhaps more challenging than making predictions in previous years.
That’s the challenge we put to a group of Salesforce thought leaders. The panel, hosted by Ben McCarthy, featured Stephanie Herrera (Salesforce MVP & Salesforce Saturday/PepUp Tech Founder), Matt Brown (Lead Product Manager at Skuid), and myself as Editor of Salesforceben.com & The DRIP.
Aside from sharing our predictions, we had a giveaway running through the month, in partnership with Skuid, to bring back some joy into this unconventional holiday season.
Salesforce Predictions for 2021
1. While we’ve seen some positives, it’s been an exciting year for Salesforce – many trends, acquisitions – and digital transformation has been accelerated at a crazy rate! What are your Salesforce predictions for 2021?
Lucy: Commerce, Collaboration
- Commerce: it was already a big play in 2020, which will probably get even bigger in 2021. It’s relatively untapped – certainly on our blog – with the big surge in e-commerce generally, who could have predicted that?
- Collaboration: we saw Salesforce Anywhere come out this year, Quip being combined with it, Salesforce Meetings, (and obviously) the Slack Acquisition – there are all these moving parts, so it will be interesting to see how these become a product offering.
Matt: Public Sector Growth, Experience Cloud (and more)
- Public sector: growth will continue to grow for Salesforce in this sector, with Salesforce having acquired Acumen, and from what have Skuid learned working with evolving public sector organisations already using Salesforce.
- Experience Cloud (formerly Communities): many HR communities ‘spun up’ in 2020 as organisations need to interact and get key information out to their employees and partners in a way that’s relatable and recognisable for your brand. Particularly Salesforce Knowledge, Mobile Publisher, and all the Salesforce features that contribute to building a hybrid CMS.
Stephanie: Slack, Demand for talent – Step up, Skill up!
- Demand for talent: already high pre-COVID, only going to get higher. For most companies, the answer to “who led your digital transformation”, the answer was COVID:
- Slack: the acquisition has expanded Salesforce’s reach significantly. Those using Slack who weren’t aware of Salesforce now are – “Slack is like a gateway drug to Salesforce”.
Now we will need the talent to deliver on the increased pressures within organisations and more organisiations suddenly on the Salesforce platform.
- Step up, skill up: our Salesforce Community is going to need to step up to skill up and prepare the new Salesforce ecosystem talent. These are not entry level people – these are people who have business acumen and other skills that are needed.
“Salesforce is like a Ferrari – it’s a powerful vehicle but you’ve got kids operating it because there are not enough people who actually know how to drive a car.”
The Changing Demand for Salesforce Talent
2. There’s an opinion circulating that although there’s a huge demand for talent overall in the Salesforce industry, some roles are perhaps becoming saturated – the Salesforce Admin role, for example. What would you say to people who really want to stand out from the crowd?
Stephanie: “You can’t just be a ‘do-er’ anymore…
…Admins need to be learning how to become Developers, how to become Solution Architects. Companies are purchasing Salesforce with the intention for it to drive the whole business, we need people to be owning the Salesforce org. They need to become managers, directors etc.”
- As an Admin, you need to take the initiative. Talk to your managers, shadow them. Learn how to talk to stakeholders, how to problem solve, how to gather requirements.
- Need to ‘make space and bring people up’: “if you have been in the ecosystem for more than two years and you should have an entry level admin/developer on your team that you are skilling up. You have a responsibility to the ecosystem”
“The business hired you to be proactive, to problem solve. Don’t stay deep into the weeds – creating fields, reports – things that an entry level person can do”
UI/UX Trends for 2021 – Salesforce and Beyond
3. As someone who is involved in the Salesforce UI/UX space, what trends are you currently seeing in 2020 and going forward to 2021?
Matt: Heightened demands on Salesforce user experience
- The demands for user experience in the Salesforce ecosystem means people need to get out of the weeds! (to echo what Stephanie said). An appetite for UX comes alongside digital transformation projects.
- Looks outside of the enterprise space, popular low code/no-code tools – like Webflow, Bubble, Figma – are helping people create beautiful designs and front-end experiences.
- That’s what the workforce are used to. When you hire someone, they will come with their own ideas of what an app should look like – same goes for customers and partners using communities. They interact with top apps like Facebook, Spotfiy – and they expect your internal apps to deliver the same experience.
- Story driven experience: look at what Salesforce has been doing with In-app Guidance. You want new users to get up to speed without scheduling day long training sessions. Content has to be favourful, compelling as stories to complement the user experience.
Salesforce Marketing Automation Trends for 2021
4. What is the next big thing to come out of marketing automation?
Lucy: Salesforce Marketing Cloud services, interactive email, conversational marketing
- Demand for Salesforce Marketing Cloud services: massive shortage of the right skills, with a consultative approach who know best practice and how to extend the platform.
- Interactive email: a big play especially in Pardot, with the new email builder being a promising foundation that will deliver this.
- Conversational marketing: hasn’t even scratched the surface. Chatbots for lead generation will be a key play for prospect engagement on websites that isn’t being leveraged enough currently.
Changing Norms in Our Work Lives
5. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that our working world has changed forever. What do you think will change the most going forward?
Matt: Communication, Leadership
- Communication: inspired by a post that circulated Linkedin, (Matt cut the chase) there’s a lot less tolerance for BS. A remote-first work environment means more value-dense interactions – for example, you don’t just throw a meeting on the calendar without a description. Everyone is being more intentional about how they communicate with each other.
- Leadership: what people look for in their leaders (trajectory, vision) looks a lot different now than it did this time last year.
Stephanie: Being Intentional with Our Time
- Being intentional with how we spend our time: people have started questioning whether they are doing their life’s work. I’ve seen many people leaving their current roles in search for something else.
- Showing up as our true and complete selves because our work and personal lives are blended – again, questioning who we spend our time with.
Lucy: Slowing down, and the end of outdated ideas
- Slowing down: the pressures of modern life had many people living life at 100 mph, which isn’t sustainable. Going forward people will take the time to reflect on their actions, and again, being intentional with their time.
- Outdated ideas that have been swept out. For example, ‘bums in seats’, the perception that you have to be physically present/be seen to be considered productive, which we know just isn’t true! That’s been validated across many industries, whereas before it may have been considered a perk for working in tech pre-COVID.
Positives from 2020
6. What positives have you seen come out of 2020?
Stephanie: Connection, Appreciation
- Connection: we just heard about some people gong 100 mph…
“I was one of those people, and I was happy about it! When the outbreak happened, I hit a brick wall- and I hit it hard. It made me realise that I was going so fast that I lost connection with the people that were important in my life – I wasn’t going deep.”
- Appreciation: there was a panel that Stephanie and Ben took part in. Steph reflected:
“It was about what happened before the panel, and what happened after. I miss those moments, and I didn’t appreciate how important those interactions were at the time. Going forward, I’m going to be present and engaged in those moments.”
Lucy: Time to upskill, time to share knowledge
- Time to upskill: when business disruption was happening as the pandemic took hold, businesses didn’t know which direction they wanted to go. Projects were put on hold, and this decision making lag gave some people the time to upskill.
- A trend we saw on Salesforceben.com was people in the industry contributing more in writing, sharing their thoughts via the blog (the takeaway positive for me, personally, this year).
Matt: The playing field levelled for remote employees
- Digital community: now that everyone is remote, you are now a digital-first community. The question is: how can you make that meaningful for everyone that are there? This levelled the ‘playing field’ for remote employees. Structures were often in place that we were blind to – things are more inclusive now, the digital community in an organisation is more meaningful now.
Do you remember that video featuring one correspondent for the BBC and his two kids walk in? At the time, it seemed like the most embarrassing thing…but now…
About the Panelists:
Stephanie Herrera: Computer Futures Global VP, Salesforce Saturday Founder, PepUp Tech Co-Founder, Merivis Board of Directors, Salesforce MVP, 5x Keynote Speaker
Matt Brown: Lead Product Manager at Skuid. Digital product management from user research to product release.
Has designed, developed and implemented Salesforce applications across many different sectors and use cases, for over 130 organizations.