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In the previous several days, temperatures have hit record lows across the country; in our neck of the woods, it got down to around 20 degrees below zero.
It’s a New Year, and like every year around this time, the cold is keeping us indoors and it makes us yearn for Spring. But while you’re stuck inside, what could be better than a cup of hot cocoa and digging into the Salesforce Spring ‘18 Release Notes? Now in Preview, we decided to take a look a bit early as we consider warmer weather and the additional Salesforce functionality we can expect to bloom along with it.
Let’s kick it off with another name change. Salesforce is actively pushing Lightning as a brand name for features and are now making one at the very top: What we’ve been calling the Force.com platform is now Lightning Platform.
Now, let’s dig into the highlights.
Data protection and privacy guidance
As we all know, cybersecurity is critical all of the time. With all of its data, Salesforce and its users are a huge target for hackers, through network penetration and socially-engineering hacking. Knowing this, Salesforce is providing data protection and privacy guidance and tracking, based on best practices, in the form of records that track customer-level preferences in the form of the Individual object. These are, in turn, associated with an organization’s leads and contacts and track and store preferences for: Collecting, storing, and sharing their personal data, packaging their personal data so they can take ownership of it, deleting records and personal data related to them, solicitation of products and services and tracking their geolocation and web activity.
This is huge. Surveys allow you to create forms, collect information, and store it in Salesforce. There are many tools out there that integrate with Salesforce that offer this functionality, but to have this available natively is wonderful. As this functionality is built upon, we’ll see more everyday uses for this as well as in our own applications. Imagine sending out a survey as a step in a process with ProcessComposer, or using a survey to collect data that drives what happens next. This new feature also includes a component to use in adding surveys to Lightning pages.
Not just for communities anymore. Now you can style your Lightning Experience as you prefer.
If you’ve ever used them with Excel, you know this means more automation and less manual repetition for common tasks. For this release, you’re able to update most standard and custom object records in all Lightning apps. Previously, macros worked only in console navigation apps on the case, contact, lead, and custom objects.
This is a promising area and one worth spending some time with; wait until this generates editable code for you (like Excel).
Clearly, Salesforce is investing here, building out an end-to-end solution for everyday, repetitive—and key—sales workflow. From generating a quote to collecting on an invoice, what they’re building is powerful and we’ll continue to see more here.
Building on some more basic functionality that has been rolled out over the previous several releases, we now see more from the Einstein artificial intelligence suite. This includes opportunity and lead scoring, forecasting, activity capture, analytics, insights and email. For those of you wondering how AI can impact your business, look no further and put these out-of-the-box solutions to work.
This is a package of features worth watching beyond today’s very-capable scope, as it contains several components that could be expanded into the core CRM. For example, schedule optimization is a problem solved here and not yet rolled out elsewhere. It allows users to preconfigure teams, set durations for specific meeting types, prioritize resource scheduling and configure “operating hours, defining your work types and skill sets, assigning your agents, dispatchers, and service resources, and configuring your scheduling policies.” These could each apply to other industries where users may not even be working “in the field,” but do schedule meetings as teams and based on similar preferences.
There are tons of updates to Communities. This is clearly an area of intense focus for the Salesforce team and we applaud the progress here.
Now, person accounts work with Financial Services Cloud. For those of you around long enough to remember Salesforce for Wealth Management, its data model was based on person accounts. We know of firms who are on that ‘old’ version and are interested in converting but face a steep price and headache to convert to FSC. The issue goes away with the Spring release. Now, existing users can install FSC without migrating to a new org (but not the reverse, at present).
Here are a few miscellaneous items we’re also glad to see:
- A revised (simpler) URL format in Lightning.
- Enhanced connections between Salesforce and Pardot campaigns, and a Matched Leads components for leads that relate to a given account.
- Activity Timeline updates: choose how many you see.
- Editing coworker events is now easier and viewing attendees in Lightning is now possible.
- Filtering with the Deals component.
- Updates to Lightning for Gmail to create new leads/contacts/accounts, reduce duplicate data entry.
- More calendar and event updates.
- Email search.
- Updates to LEX report builder and to dashboards and their charts.
Finally, there are several features our development team is wringing its hands to use.
- The Lightning Experience Visualforce Report
- The updates list to Apex are shorter this time around, but that doesn’t mean the impact isn’t huge. For example, Platform Cache is available in Lightning, and there are new List methods including contains() and indexOf() that will help us and others write shorter, more efficient code.
- Some very cool – and extremely time-saving new Lightning components, including Name and Address compound fields, pre-formatted output fields, list views and enhancements to the lightning:inputField.
- The clients:hasItemContext interface which has access to email or calendar events in Lightning for Gmail or Outlook – powerful stuff for customizations here, especially for those – including us – that utilize Salesforce in the context of our email application.
- SOQL: FOR REFERENCE and FOR VIEW
- Avoid giant debug logs for managed packages with INFO or DEBUG settings.
- A(nother) new API, the IoT REST API.
Thanks for reading! We’re looking forward to the warmth of Spring 18, and the enhanced Salesforce abilities that will come with it, as soon as possible.