Happy New Year everyone! Hope your New Year celebrations were fun and safe and that you’re up for a terrific 2017. Salesforce is kicking off 2017 with their Spring 17 release and the release notes are officially out. It’s another big one – with 452 pages of features – Lightning all over the place and the start of the Einstein roll-out. As always we’re going to do a multi-part write-up and here’s the order we’re going in.
Part 1 – Sales Cloud, Lightning Experience (except Service Cloud) and the Platform
Update: We will be doing a free Lunch & Learn Webinar on Tuesday February 28th at 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EST. It will cover a lot of the below discussing all about why Sales Cloud Users Should Move to Lightning. We’ll be showing a lot of these features in a live demo. Hope to see you there!
Let’s jump right in as this is a long one:
Sales Cloud Einstein – In case you missed it (and if you did you are clearly impervious to Salesforce’s marketing efforts) Einstein was the huge announcement at Dreamforce this year. Similar to past major new features, Einstein is going to be constantly updated and each release will get stronger and stronger. Spring 17 is the first where we get to see some of these new features. Overall, Einstein is a super exciting direction for Salesforce. Whether you call it AI like Salesforce does or machine-learning, the overall concept is the same – leverage technology and your data as a way to automatically learn and continually hone your processes. Make your processes “smarter”. Now when you look at where Einstein is applied, your first thought is going to be “well, I can do that myself” – and in a lot of cases you are correct to a point.A good example is Einstein Lead Scoring. Yes, as a company, you can have your Sales & Marketing teams working together to put together a Lead Scoring model. In fact we have an old blog post all about this using the old Salesforce Labs package. This is very common and what you’ve traditionally done using Marketing Automation tools like Pardot. Now, the way you attack this is by analyzing all of your Lead and Opportunity data and try to figure out what data elements are important – which one truly drive great Leads that turn into Opportunities – and which data elements might not move the needle as much. Especially if you have multiple segments of prospects, this can get complicated quickly. However, you still manage to build a model you are happy with and you release your new Lead Scoring and everything is great. But then time passes. The market changes. Your product finds it’s way to new segments – maybe even ones you’re not aware of. You expand into new markets, new regions, maybe even launch a new product line or two. Well, while all of this is going on, your Lead Scoring model is based on the heavy analysis of data you did at that single point of time. And it’s not evolving. It’s not factoring in any of these changes and only will if you go and do that massive exercise again. Even once you do – you’re going to need to do it again. And again. And again. This is where Einstein comes in. Instead of you needing to undertake this big analysis, what if you had your own personal data scientist constantly learning from your data and continually making adjustments to your Lead Scoring? As you expand into Asia, it realizes that in Asia your sweet spot is actually a smaller sized company than in North America. So, that Lead that you would have ignored is actually a great one in Asia. Einstein is that data scientist and this is just one example of where that machine learning and automation can make an impact. This is only the beginning too.
Alright, that’s Einstein at a high level. For some more information, Salesforce has a page called the AI Deep Dive that goes into what AI is and how they use it. For Spring 17, the features are part of what is called Sales Cloud Einstein. From the looks of it, this does require an additional licenses in order to turn on the four features below. I don’t see any pricing information on this yet but will update with a link once it’s published.
Predictive Lead Scoring – I described the business case above for this, so won’t go back into that. Basically, Einstein is “periodically” analyzing your Lead history and applying this learning to come up with a Lead Scoring model that is then applied to your Leads. Your Sales users can see the Lead Score from list views or from the Lead itself, but then it very nicely shows the top 5 factors Einstein believes is a factor to that score. This works in both Classic and LEX and just as an FYI, that new score field is called “Lead Insights”. Now, one thing I’m curious about is the timing of that “periodic” analysis of the Leads. Not sure if that’s nightly, monthly, quarterly, etc. We’ll see and update as we dig in more.
Automated Activity Capture – This is one that I’m pretty excited to get my hands on. Basically, this is Einstein almost as an automated assistant. When using Google or Microsoft Office 365, Einstein will automatically add Emails as activities to Salesforce and also Events from your Calendar. There are some settings that allow your users to set which Calendar entries and Emails are sent to Salesforce, but for the most part I’m assuming Einstein is just matching up the email addresses from the invites and emails. Pretty simple – but really nice for your users to have this done automatically for them.
Opportunity Insights – This one is where Einstein gets really interesting – but, also might be one you want to test out a bit before just rolling it out to your users. Basically, Opportunity Insights is a panel within the Opportunity itself (see below) or on your Homepage to reflect insights across all of your Opportunities. There are three different types of insights as part of this first version – Deal Predictions, Follow-up Reminders and Key Moments. For these to work, Einstein is taking in a lot from activity associated to the Opportunity (and I’m assuming the Contact and Account as well, but could be wrong here). For example, even in the image below, Einstein is noticing when a competitor is mentioned in an email and even “recent email sentiment”. Due to the heavy need for email activity, I’d definitely strongly suggest turning on the Automated Activity feature above as part of this. You’re going to need all of that email and calendar data in Salesforce to drive this. For the Follow-up Reminders, basically users will get automated reminders sent to them if a Contact hasn’t responded in a while, or if they user has ignored the Opportunity for a period of time. Finally, the Key Moments is another automated notification – but this is based more on what Einstein considers “key moments”. The two examples of a “key moment” is a competitor being named in an email or a Contact leaving a company. I’m assuming there are other key moments and we’ll update as we get into this more. Also, not a lot here on how it’s figuring out who your competitors are for example or when it decides to send a follow-up reminders or how it knows a Contact has left the company. I don’t think this is adjustable in this first release but definitely something we’ll need to play with heavily. Also please note this only works with Lightning Experience (LEX).
Account Insights – Account Insights essentially adds Einstein to the Insights functionality. Einstein analyses news about a company to determine nuggets of information about them – like the Account is expanding based on M&A activity. Up to three of these insights are shown on the Account page, and like Opportunity Insights, this can also be on the Homepage. These insights can be shared with Email or with Chatter right from the widget. This one only works with LEX.
Record Page Updates – A few big changes that give admins that page layout flexibility they have always wanted. First up, we have a HUGE hooray here. LEX only, but we can finally add different types of page layouts to a record. Not just one new template but five! And – wait for it – one of them is the three column layout we’ve all been begging for. Woooooo Hooooo! I’ll just copy directly from the release notes to show the new options as it’s pretty clear.
Header and Left Sidebar—Full-width header above a left sidebar and main column.
Header, Subheader, Left Sidebar—Full-width header and a narrower subheader above a left sidebar and main column.
Header and Three Columns—Full-width header above three equal-width columns.
One Column—Full-width single main area.
Three Columns—A main column and two sidebars with fixed proportional widths. The main column width is 50%, and the side columns widths are each 25%. This template is designed for record pages in a Salesforce Console. The minimum supported resolution for this template is 1280 pixels.
On top of this, you can now add the Related Record component to any page. This is huge as it lets you add and modify related records to the record you’re on seamlessly. Why not, another hooray for this too. This has always been a pain point for users. Now when adding a Contact to that Case or Opportunity, you can use this component which allows them to search for the Contact, create a new Contact if needed or even edit an existing Contact inline. The user never needs to leave the record they are on to do this. Huge.
Finally, we get the Related List Component. You can now add Related List components anywhere on that Lightning Page layout. Forget about needing them to be all at the bottom, you can now strategically arrange them where you need them in the page layout. A cool use case here is you can even build a custom related component to show data from other lookup fields – like a Parent record. A ton of potential here. With these changes you can now go nuts and build pages out the way you want them. This is like an admin’s birthday present!
Opportunity Products Update – In LEX only, Opportunity Products gets some major enhancements. This is a huge improvement for users that typically have to add more than one product at a time to their Opportunities. No more having to do this one at a time. First, you can search for different products and add them right from the same page – and you don’t lose any of your previous selections. Second, they can see a building list of Opportunity Product Lines and can select or de-select different lines right from this new page. So, if you need to remove three lines, you can do it in one step. Finally, you can return to this interface at anytime and it will pre-populate what you have built. This supports up to 50 products and 200 lines at a time. Really big improvement here.
Account Hierarchies in Lightning – The Account Hierarchies Visualization has been updated with a slick new Lightning component. Similar to the classic one, you can navigate through the Account Hierarchy and see what the current Account is that you are looking at, but with the Lightning one you can customize the columns that appear for the Accounts. That was always a big request from our customers and nice to see that it’s now a standard feature.
Contacts to Multiple Accounts Improvements – The ability to relate a Contact to multiple Accounts was a big new feature and with Spring 17 this continues to get enhanced. First, it now support Person Accounts. So if you need to link a Person Account to multiple Business Accounts you can. Next, you can now add custom buttons and actions to the relationship object between the Contact and the Accounts. Where this would be handy is when you are trying to launch an action for a Contact – but that action is specific to just one of their Accounts. Need to create an Opportunity or Case for that Contact / Account combo? You can do that from here. Finally, you can now fire workflow or Process Builders off of the Account Contact Relationship object as well. So if you need to shoot off a notification when these are changed or added, you now have that ability. Good to see this feature getting stronger.
Quote Updates – A bunch of new updates to the standard Quoting (please note, this is not the CPQ Quoting – formerly Steelbrick). First, instead of having to see Quotes from the Opportunity they are associated to, users can now go directly to a Quotes tab that organizes all of the Quotes in one place. Next, when looking at the Quotes – in LEX only – you can flip to a Kanban view that will show your Quotes organized by their Status. Once you click into the Quote itself, you have a much better organized view of the Quote. You can now enable a Path if you have LEX – similar to Opportunities and Leads – to guide a user through the various Quote Stages. In addition, from the Quote you can now see related lists for the Quote Line Items as well as the different PDFs associated to the Quote. The PDFs in particular is nice, because from here you can delete old PDFs, email them and then setup the syncing. This is there in both Classic or LEX. In addition, Chatter is now enabled on Quotes so you can collaborate directly there and send updates to the feed. Finally, in LEX only, you can now use the standard task / activity management right on the Quote. Quotes hasn’t been touched in a while, so nice to see the big update here.
Web-to-Lead reCAPTCHA – Tired of your web-to-lead form getting nailed with spammers? Now you can add a reCAPTCHA widget to your forms with a new out of the box feature. Turn this on and add to your form and anyone submitting the form will have to check a box to show they are a human and not a spammer.
Duplicate Management – A couple of nice updates to Duplicate Management in Spring 17. First, the ability to merge Accounts, Contacts and Leads is now available in LEX. Previously, this could only be done in Classic. The LEX version of this is pretty slick though. Not only can users merge, but now you can add proactive messaging to your users that a duplicate might exist. As you can see in the image below, you have the option of adding this as a card within the layout or as a message across the top of the page (you can also do both if you really want to hammer it in to your users). From here the users can click in to view those potential duplicates. The proactive alerts could be huge to help keep your instance clean. Second, the de-duplication tool for Salesforce now supports Person Accounts. Pretty critical if you’re a user of Person Accounts.
Lightning Utility Bar – LEX now has a Utility Bar which sits permanently at the button of your page – similar to the tray item in the Consoles. This allows you to add different utilities to it. The utilities would need to be Lightning Components as this does not support Visualforce. Salesforce recommends not adding more than ten. Two examples they give are Recent Items and Notes. Pretty useful and this can be put into any Lightning App, not just LEX.
Send Email from Anywhere – Cool little LEX feature that allows you to the Email action to any object that has Activities enabled on it. This gives your users the nice enhanced Email widget from anyway.
Limit Search to a Specific Object – Another LEX only feature here, but a pretty cool one. From LEX Search you can start to type in an object name. So, in the example below, they’ve starting typing “Accounts”. An option is automatically available to limit that search to just Accounts and then you continue your search for what you’re looking for. I like it.
Report Filters in the URL – Very interesting update here. Now with LEX reports only, you can actually pass a filter value to a report straight from the URL. The example they give is https://na1.salesforce.com/one/one.app#/sObject/00OR0000000PCHYMA4/view?t=1479844235107&fv0=New%20Business. The bold part of this URL is actually the filter value. That URL would open up that report and then automatically add a filter to it to set the Opportunity Type (fv0) to “New Business”. There are a few limits to this, but the big one is that you can’t do much to filters that are already saved in the report – you can’t delete them and you can’t modify the operator. You also can’t force in new filters. So, that field you pass into the parameter has to match to a field that is already in the filter.
Expand LEX Dashboard Components – Pretty sweet feature here. LEX dashboard components now have a little “expand” icon. When clicked it opens up a much larger version of that component. Handy for those charts with a huge X or Y axis.
Funnel and Scatter Charts – Standard LEX Dashboards now have the ability to create Funnel or Scatter Chart component types. Very nice looking components.
Encryption Update – A couple of quick updates to encrypted fields. First, the encryption check runs faster with Spring 17 then it did previously. Next, you can now reference encrypted fields within formula fields. In Pilot is another interesting one where you can encrypt your Chatter. That would be pretty wild – but again, that’s just in Pilot so might want to wait on that one. Finally, you can now apply your own tenant secret (encryption key) to your search and data indexes. If you’re from a company with serious security restrictions this could be a huge change.
Lightning Experience Updates – The LEX roll-out continues and the below is a list of quick features that are now available in LEX that have been available in Classic:
Merge Records – As mentioned above, you can now merge Leads, Contacts and Accounts in LEX.
Quote PDFs – Users of Quoting can now see and send the PDFs generated on a Quote without switching to Classic.
Report Subscriptions – This is now available in LEX. Looks like it supports up to five reports.
Follow Dashboards – You can now follow a Dashboard with Chatter in LEX. When a component crosses a threshold you have establish it will automatically send a Chatter update.
Share Dashboards – Dashboards can now be shared in Chatter.
View Dashboard as other Users – Dynamic Dashboards are now in LEX. Doesn’t say anything about the quantity limit of these, so I’m assuming it’s the same as in Classic.
Campaign Functionality – A few updates to Campaigns. First, you can now use Mass Actions to Add multiple Leads or Contacts to a Campaign. You can also now manage a Member’s Campaign Status. Finally you can view the Campaign Hierarchy from within LEX now. Comes with a nice widget as well.
Person Account Page Layout – You can now modify that Person Account page layout.
Page Layouts by Record Type, App & Profile – The Lightning page builder can now set the granular access by record type, profile and app.
Next Approver – Approvals that require a user to select the next approver now work in LEX.
Pending Approvals Component – You can now display any pending Approvals you might have on the Homepage with the Approve component. This appears to only work on Homepages though.
Wow, there was a lot there. A lot more than I realized when I started writing this. So this is a another big update – but a lot of this depends on you having Lightning Experience turned on. We said it last release but with each release this is getting harder to ignore. If you have a Sales team you really need to figure out your strategy to get LEX turned on. You are missing out on a ton of improvements now – look at the list just from this release – and the gaps are mostly filled now for Sales. You are starting to lose value in your subscription if you’re not planning on moving to LEX. Alright, next up is Service Cloud.
Harry is the CEO and founder of GearsCRM, with more than 18 years of experience working with the Salesforce platform. Outside of Gears, Harry enjoys debating Star Wars and Marvel with his son and sharing music and videos with his daughter. He is an avid racquetball player, bleeds Dodger blue, cries Jets green and always tries to find spare time to read a good fiction novel.