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Work Anywhere with a Digital HQ

Personally, I’ve always taken pride when the topic of remote working comes up in conversation. For the last 8 years (ok, 7, but 8 in January so #closeenough) I’ve really loved telling people how I am so lucky to work for GearsCRM, which has always had a fully remote workforce (among other benefits, check us out).

So many people would respond the same way… “you are lucky to work in an industry where you can actually do the work from home; we could never do that part-time, never mind full-time.” Fast forward to 2020 where many organizations were forced to figure out how to work from home, and have continued to operate remotely, or hybrid, as the world and its workforce evolves.

I now watch my friends’ companies try all kinds of ways to make it work: virtual meeting spaces, virtual pinboards, virtual whiteboards, virtual work spouses (of course, some things just can’t be replaced by an avatar).

A lot of what helped us “make it work” at Gears has always been Salesforce. Yes, we are biased, but being able to run our business “in the Cloud” all these years has been a cornerstone of the success of our remote work philosophy. When Slack was acquired, it was so natural for us to extend the way we run our business and we were early adopters of the Salesforce and Slack integration functionality. Salesforce is certainly not a stranger to being a leader in remote workforce enablement by helping people collaborate, creating a culture of sharing information with things like Chatter, Salesforce Anywhere, and well, just being a cloud-based software. Now, with the power of Slack, Salesforce is bringing its philosophy of a “work anywhere world” to the next level.

:: Digital HQ has entered the chat ::

If you were paying attention AT ALL at Dreamforce, you would know that the biggest celebrity in attendance was… SLACK. With Slack, Salesforce has embarked on a mission to build a true Digital Headquarters. In short, the innovations to Slack and its integration with Salesforce will help all departments across all industries and will improve cross-functional collaboration and real-time communication.

At Gears, we absolutely see the value in reducing the ‘swivel chair’ and eliminating the distraction of switching applications. We’ve already integrated Salesforce and Slack and for me personally, it’s been a great help!

We use the integration for a myriad of reasons: automatic project updates, real-time notifications for customer-related issues, reminders for project summaries, etc. So, if we are already seeing the value with our existing integrations, I can’t even imagine the value this next round of releases will bring. This deserved its own post because as it turns out, they are releasing A TON of functionality.

Digital HQ for Every Department

First, there is a major focus on cloud-specific standard integrations with “Slack-First Department” updates. We are seeing “Slack-First” functionality for Sales, Service, Marketing, Commerce, Digital Experiences, Platform, Trailhead, Analytics, Mulesoft, and Quip. While I won’t go into all of these in detail, I do think it’s important to discuss why there are Department-specific integrations.

All of these improvements and enhancements are aimed to allow Salesforce Users to do their jobs IN SLACK. Collaborate on deals IN SLACK. Swarm cases IN SLACK. Get AI-powered predictions and recommendations IN SL… you get it.

Salesforce is really trying to recreate the virtual office with a strong and purposeful integration where most people are spending their days. Again, while this is reducing the swivel chair, it’s making things even MORE collaborative and of course, in real-time.

With Slack-First Sales, there are digital deal rooms to collaborate around a customer or deal cycle. Users can update Accounts/Contacts/data right within Slack. Sales teams can stay up-to-date with updates automatically posted from Salesforce, and intelligent alerts get served up automatically. Reps will have access to their pipeline and be able to manage pipeline health right within Slack itself.

With Slack-First Service, we are seeing some of the functionality that customers have actually been asking for for years! We now have case swarming, with the creation of Slack channels for service teams to collaborate on high-priority cases – including the ability to bring in cross-functional experts at the same time. Also, you will have access to an Expert Finder, which will identify the right experts to ADD to the swarm channel based on things like capacity and skills.

Harry Comment – Hey Jill P! Great post so far – but really want to jump in and geek out for a second on Case Swarm. I love this concept! At the end of the day, this has always been a big pain point with highly skilled/technical Cases, especially in organizations with lots of different skills. The agent that receives the Case can’t always have all of the skills needed to solve the case. A lot of organizations will simply just re-assign the Case to the right person – which is great if you have someone with the right skill actually within your service team.

But what if that skill is in the Finance team? Or Product Development? Or Legal? A lot of times you need help from folks not within Service itself. Today what we typically see is customer service will try to get these teams into Service Cloud – and basically just cross their fingers that these outside teams answer quickly around their day jobs. We even see customers that setup internal SLAs (tracked via Milestones) for these teams because they are so desperate to ensure timely turn-around. It’s painful for everyone.

Case Swarm really solves this problem and let’s you handle this more real time and based on availability of those outside team members – like maybe at all times 1 person from each skill/team is available to be swarmed in, etc. If you can get their buy-in to participate in this, it’s an awesome approach – and really improves the turn-around time on the cases. Can’t wait to see this live. Ok – back to Jill.

You are starting to see a trend. Activities that require conversation, things that require the right brains in the “virtual room,” conversations that require real-time input… these things used to be easy when everyone was in the office. With this Digital HQ initiative, we can re-create the in-person experiences virtually to better support our new remote/hybrid workforces. Other examples include:

  • Get automatic alerts (internal and external) when new CMS content is published
  • Create end-to-end workflows for complex approvals
  • Search for Trailheads and have learning recommended to you
  • Build AI-powered recommendations into all of your data
  • Connect apps and data to Salesforce, and include automated Slack notifications in your workflows
  • Embed Quip documents right into your Slack channels
  • Speed up your Marketing journey planning and execution with real-time collaboration, approvals, and recommendations

And many more…

Digital HQ for Every Industry

Salesforce has also dedicated some focus to Industry-related enhancements and optimizations. They are releasing industry-specific updates for Sustainability, Corporate and Investment Banking, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Philanthropy, Nonprofit, and Education. Now we will see updates that will not only enhance the clouds but are even more specific to your type of business.

Great examples are:

  • Education sees student success alerts, where staff can be alerted of issues coming from students
  • Daily Digests & Notifications for Nonprofits surface upcoming deadlines and key updates to teams
  • For Philanthropy, you can now allow your employees to donate to charities and organizations right within Slack
  • For Healthcare and Life Sciences, we see updates that provide physicians and teams with a centralized onboarding experience
  • For Corporate and Investment Banking, you now have access to Interaction Summaries to let bankers create, share, and collaborate on meetings without ever having to log into Salesforce

This is just a subset of Industry-specific improvements coming over the next couple of releases.

General Slack Updates

But wait – there’s more!

We also are seeing a couple of general Slack updates that aren’t tied to the Slack-First clouds and industries. We get “Clips” where users can create video and audio and share right within channels. You can add clips to files or presentations giving your live feedback on your own time. I am intrigued to see the ways in which we can use this, it’s an interesting feature for sure.

There will also be a Zoom integration, as well as functionality that will bring communication out of email boxes into channels so that you can work quickly and collaboratively with people OUTSIDE of your organization.

Let’s face it, we may never go back to the office culture of the past. Even organizations that are calling their employees back are doing it part-time and figuring out how to be successful in a hybrid environment. Companies are finally seeing that they CAN do it, they can be successful, and allowing your workforce to be remote has extremely positive effects on morale and productivity.

Salesforce (and Gears) has always known this. With the acquisition of, and investment in, Slack, Salesforce is closing the gaps that were making remote work challenging. This is a move away from email, away from Chatter, to real-time communication with your co-workers AND with your customers. If companies can take advantage of some of these standard integrations (or build custom ones, we can help), it will help your teams be more efficient, and more collaborative, virtually!

Jill Penfield

Jill is a 4x certified Solutions Architect, Experience Cloud Specialist, and Principal Client Director at GearsCRM. She is passionate about helping customers achieve their goals in new implementations and ongoing enhancements. Jill is knowledgeable in all the Salesforce clouds and loves finding the perfect solutions to fit her customers' internal processes, as well as meet the needs of their external audiences (Sites!). She has been working with Salesforce for 10+ years.

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