The Salesforce World Tour DC -What Did We Learn?

Government cloud adoption is accelerating as more agencies put platforms to work for citizens.

Each year, Salesforce hosts a World Tour to showcase their new technology and align more closely with their customers. The event in DC has been a mainstay for the 580 Strategies team and we’re excited and a little proud to see how far it’s come and how much it’s grown over the years.

The day was jam-packed with offerings from technology updates to government project presentations. You can browse the agenda here, but we wanted to share our favorite takeaways from the event:

#1 The Time for Equality in the Workplace is Now

The keynote address by Chief Diversity Officer -Tony Prophet- reaffirmed Salesforce’s commitment to equality across its employees and for its stance on human and civil rights. Pay equity across genders and nondiscrimination with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity are areas in which Salesforce and its partners are excelling. But, there is much work left to be done and we all need to work together as examples of how to implement these policies properly.

Our team at 580 Strategies firmly believes if you do this well, your employees — and therefore your company (city, state, country!) — will not only be productive and happy, they will thrive.

Check out the keynote in its entirety here:

#2 Plan to Give Back from the Beginning

For the partners, integrators, and providers, we encourage you to look at Salesforce as a model for how to set aside a fraction of your effort for the common good. Salesforce is leading the way with their 1% model where its employees donate 1% of their time, 1% of its corporate earnings, and 1% of its product to worthy causes each year. This is a great, direct way to have an impact on your communities and the world but sharing a little of the wealth of your efforts. Plus it’s rewarding and fun!

Consider pledging 1% this year. We’re doing it with you!

#3 Lightning Looks Better than Ever!

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The Lightning interface for Salesforce is looking great, and we think it’s solidly moved out of the “should have” and into the “nice to have” types of features we've been looking for. As expected for a complete UI overhaul of this nature, it’s taken a while for both the platform to full mature and even longer for partners and agencies to fully adopt it and move their apps over. But it is worth it.

The Lighting App Builder and branding options make it easier than ever to put an app together and be sure it’ll look great and perform equally across desktops and mobile devices alike. Configure it once and publish it for all your users -regardless of device!

Check out the release notes for the Spring 18 Release. There are some amazing features coming in the Lightning App Builder such the ability to make apps dynamic, add collapsible sections, and a survey component.

Takeaway for government: We strongly recommend starting any new Salesforce project with Lightning from the beginning when possible. You’ll spend less time and money developing and testing UI elements since Salesforce does it for you.

#4 Integration Cloud is Coming

Salesforce + Mulesoft = Integration Cloud

Salesforce’s agreement to acquire Mulesoft takes the platform to a whole new level. Mule was already an indispensable Swiss Army Knife of moving data between applications, enabling almost-unlimited integration between Salesforce apps and other platforms and legacy systems. But now that Mulesoft will be coming into the Salesforce family as another facet of the cloud offerings, these integrations will only become more seamless over time.

What this means for government: as you encounter major, critical legacy systems that simply can’t be re-platformed or lifted and shifted easily, the Integration Cloud is going to give you either a permanent integration point or a way to keep systems talking to each other as you complete large, multi-year migration projects. Essentially, there is nothing blocking you now from getting started tackling digital transformation for core agency systems.

#5 Agencies are Making Great Progress

The two outstanding highlights at the event were showcases from agencies close to our hearts: the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of State. Both are large agencies with lots of users, critical missions with little margin for error, and traditionally slow to adopt new technology. If you saw them in action at the event, then you know this is changing.

Mike Domanski, COR, for Veteran’s Affairs recaps the recent success of the VIEWS project.

Veterans Affairs is doing amazing work in the digital transformation space: they have great leadership, ample budget allocated to digital transformation, the right technology platforms, and the right partners in the mix to make it successful. As of March 15th, they’ve launched their biggest and most mission critical system on the Salesforce platform: the VA Integrated Enterprise Workflow Solution (VIEWS).

The system is right in Salesforce’s wheelhouse: tracking people, cases, and keeping everyone in the loop. With approximately 1,500 users, it’s exciting to see the agency taking advantage of this centralized system that will be streamlining work and increasing service levels for years to come.

The VIEWS system is also the flagship Salesforce application for the agency and has set a high standard for other projects to follow suit now that success is demonstrated at the highest levels of visibility and criticality. The team is doing great work in this space, and we’re excited to continue supporting them as they move forward.

Becca Jenkins and Nicole Chulick from the Bureau of International Information Programs describe how they’re taking CRM whole-of-mission across the Department.

Full disclosure: the U.S. Department of State was the 580 Strategies founder’s agency assignment from 2015–2017. We were brought in to stabilize the Salesforce system at State and expand its usage across the Public Diplomacy arm of the Department. But in the time since, the amazing team we (reluctantly) had to leave behind during the presidential transition has kept up the work and vastly improved upon it!

The update at the World Tour event from the team was great. They’ve shifted from a limited-scope pilot that has only been serving for external communications purposes in the Public Diplomacy arenas to a whole-of-mission approach to the functions of entire embassies. The team is proving that CRM and Salesforce can and should be an enterprise solution for the Department that centralizes citizen engagement and streamlines embassy operations around the world — and that it can be done smartly, securely, and in a cost effective manner.

The team deployed the product to 25 embassies worldwide now and is ramping up to the next phases of deployments soon. We are excited to see the progress the State Department makes as a leader in the cloud computing space for federal agencies!

#6 Military and the Intelligence Communities are now able to Participate

The DC event was sold-out again this year.

With the provisional authorizations for DISA Impact Levels 2 and 4, Salesforce is now secured at even higher ratings than FedRAMP. This is allowing data security, access, and control to shift out of the unclassified and/or merely sensitive data worlds that agencies deal with and into the higher side of classifications and sensitivity levels.

For the first time in 580 Strategies recent memory, we saw more interest and participation from the defense and intelligence sectors this year at the event. We’re excited to see what these ratings levels do to expand opportunities for cloud transformation in areas of the government that needed to see a little more of a track record of trust and security before taking the plunge. Welcome aboard! And we look forward to working with you as you start to tackle these critical systems across your agencies.

#7 The Future of Technology Looks Bright for Public Sector

As civil servants with a good track record of around a decade working in this space, it’s clear to us that the future of cloud adoption and digital transformation looks bright for the government. It wasn’t so many years ago that the DC event was sparesly attended and the projects discussed by the agencies were only ideas and concepts. Seeing the community of both the platform, partners, and agency teams having grown so much into a thriving ecosystem is very heartening for where we go from here.

The addition of great technology features, more and more certifications to make Salesforce more accessible for agencies, and a wide field of integration partners and apps to make the work successful bodes well for the American taxpayer getting the return on investment they’re looking for out of government technology systems.

It’s a great time to be thinking of embracing cloud technologies to help accelerate your work and give you more time to focus on your customers and citizens. If you’re considering getting started and need help, or if you’re already on your way and want to accelerate your work, let us know!

From initial planning about strategy to approaching the technology and talent, to firming up a solid acquisition strategy to help you get those tools, we have experience on the front end of the digital transformation process to help you get started.

Next, we can help you navigate your initial projects from vision to success as we partner together with the right teams to deliver your software products quicly.

Then after we’ve established initial success to make believers out of your leadership and users, we can help you shift into high gear by scaling-up your work across multiple teams, platforms, and lines of business with a robust Center of Excellence (or Digital Transformation Center) to get the right framework in place for complete coordination across all your cloud efforts.

Check out our capability statement and contact us to get started.