Salesforce desperately wants admins to migrate to its Salesforce Lightning platform and seems to be sweetening the pot as much as humanly possible to get them to do so. Getting developers to switch a user interface isn’t easy unless they’re unhappy with their current setup, though Salesforce seems to think the right set of tools and features can make the difference. Salesforce Lightning, which is a collection of tools built on the Force.com platform, has just been updated for both productivity and customization.
Salesforce Lightning is different from other frameworks like AngularJS or React in the sense that it’s completely event driven and designed solely with enterprise applications in mind. Additionally, Lightning is built on a component framework, which means admins can mix and match different components, tools and applications, or even combine smaller applications to build bigger ones.
This ability to reuse functional units or expose units by tagging them to become mobile applications is what puts the “S” in SaaS. It’s a lot easier to build a car if you have all the parts already and that’s what Salesforce is trying to do here with Lightning. Like other component frameworks where you typically have to roll your own backend functionality, authentication, and connectivity, with Salesforce Lightning you simply expose server-side Apex functionality and you’re good to go. Salesforce has also added new capabilities to its Lightning Service Console desktop interface to help customer service agents resolve cases more quickly.
One of the highlight features of Service Cloud is Service Out-of-the-Box that lets users build a customer service center in one single day. This includes prebuilt case management capabilities and code-free setup.
A couple of other new features on the new release are Lightning Console Apps, which makes it a lot quicker to create applications with drag-and-drop actions, and Lightning Report Builder, which is supposed to aid with better management of reports and dashboards. Sales Path and Kanban are two new customization features that allow organizations to manage and organize custom lists. Kanban provides a visual Trello-like dashboard while Sales Path prompts reps to enter key field information and keep a track of activities. Community Agent 360 is another customer-centric feature and lets representatives view customer’s activities on support communities.
There are some new AI-powered features as well in this 2017 summer release, like Einstein Powered Search and Einstein Vision. Einstein Powered Search comes with type-ahead search capabilities and federated search, while Einstein Vision allows admins to track image-based social media posts. Einstein Vision for Social Studio is currently available for Twitter and will soon be available for other social platforms. Social Studio allows users to engage customers on social media platforms through posts and consumer sentiment tracking.
Salesforce also recently updated its cloud-based CRM (customer relationship management) offering to make it quicker for businesses to launch customer communities, knowledge bases, and more advanced services. The new Service Cloud is supposed to help companies better meet modern customer expectations with regards to speed, personalization, productivity, mobility, and service across channels. It also comes bundled with a bunch of partner apps and an app builder as well.
The AppExchange marketplace includes partner apps for call-center management, telephony, Internet of Things asset tracking, and industry-specific apps such as health-care-based patient education that focus on productivity and improved functionality. Additionally, the Lightning Dialer apparently results in a 23 percent higher outbound call volume.
Getting over the hump
The new Salesforce Lightning features aim at addressing some obvious migration issues that admins would have. More customization, or what Salesforce is calling a “human-first design approach” — isn’t that tempting if a lot of time and resources are involved with the transition? According to a recent Gartner report, Salesforce customers surveyed expressed concerns about upgrading to Lightning because of functionality gaps and the amount of resources needed to implement the new UI. Additionally, Forrester consultant John Bruno was quoted as stating, “The Summer ‘17 Release makes Lightning more appealing, but I don’t think it gets people over the hump with regards to migrating to Lightning.”
Forbes ranked Salesforce as the top business in its 2017 list of The World’s Most Innovative Companies, putting it ahead of Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors for the first time. Surely a UI upgrade that is supposed to improve both productivity and functionality couldn’t be causing that big a problem. However, customers’ concerns are always an issue, big or small, and Salesforce seems to be doing everything it can to address those concerns. Human nature is such that we are always opposed to change at first, and even a change in our Gmail layout is met with irritation at first. There is always a good intention behind that change, which we normally understand after we’ve gotten used to the new layout.
The bigger picture
While we’ve been talking about Salesforce’s own customers having an issue with migration, they also need to keep an eye on the big picture and encourage new customers as well. Basically, some change has to be forced. The new updates are especially aimed at large organizations with hard-to-upgrade legacy customer service systems as well as smaller businesses that need immediate CRM services that can grow as they do. The new Salesforce Lightning version also increases consistency between desktop and mobile applications and enhances customization with regards to workflow, data validation, queues, bulk processing, reporting, dashboards, and much more.
This release is all about giving admins the ability to create customized solutions to better serve their customers. Such new features make it much easier for companies of all sizes to offer differentiated services for their customers.
Salesforce has been on top of its game for a while now, and they pretty much know their customers aren’t going anywhere. To build new roads you often have to destroy some buildings in the way, and people displaced will complain at first, but, hopefully, everyone’s always happier in the end. The new features may be to keep their old customers happy, but new customers are definitely what Salesforce has on its mind. These include companies like the Premier global nutrition company Herbalife, which recently announced it has selected Salesforce to enhance distributor effectiveness and efficiency and to provide more personalized experiences for its customers.
It’s obvious that Salesforce is looking at the much bigger picture here, and while they slowly spread into every industry on the planet, they’re always looking for new customers. AWS may have a big share of the public cloud, but as far as SaaS goes, Salesforce is definitely the head honcho. If the new Salesforce Lightning features can indeed attract new customers, make life easier for everyone using them, and convince their existing users to migrate at the same time, then it’s mission accomplished for Salesforce.
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